Monday, July 02, 2018
NOTES FROM THE SENATE, JULY 2, 2018
WHAT'S LEFT IN LEGISLATION? - PART I
Over the past months, we have covered legislation and funding from a number of areas including: Children's Issues, Disability Legislation, Rural Economic Development, Senior Citizen Issues, K-12 and Collegiate Education, Rural Health legislation, Natural Resources, and Transportation. We covered the Governor's Vetoes and last week, gave you a cross-section of new laws going into effect July 1.
So, from the 2018 Session of the General Assembly, what's left? Actually a lot. This week, we will look at the busiest committee in the Senate, the Judiciary Committee. In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee is ably chaired by Senator Jesse Stone of Waynesboro.
The Judiciary Committee covers a wide range of issues. I am always looking for bills that I think someone in the Fourth District might have an interest in or could have application to citizens there.
THE BUSIEST COMMITTEE- JUDICIARY
--SB 321-- Increases the penalty for a false or fraudulent Medicaid claims to a maximum of $11,000 for each false or fraudulent claim plus three times the damages sustained by the Georgia Medicaid Program. Increases the civil penalty to a maximum of $22,363 per claim.
--SB 336-- When the GBI subpoenas electronic communications, under this legislation, the provider would no longer be allowed to reveal that fact to the subscriber. In sexual trafficking or persons for labor cases, when books, paper or other tangible items are subpoenaed, the bill now prevents the provider from revealing that release of information to the subscriber. The House Substitute would allow the Georgia Crime Information Center to retain fingerprints of certain individuals under certain circumstances and submit those to the GBI and FBI.
--SB 436-- Updates outdated language for new Probate Judges. Requires new judge orientation. Removes restrictions on associate judges who are attorneys practicing law. Increases the bond probate judges must provide in discharge of their duties from $25,000 to $100,000. Changes the filling of vacancies of judges to require a special election. Removes the 12 year service requirement for retired judges to perform marriages. Removes references to the outdated fee system. Clarifies when probate offices are to be open and allows closure when other county offices are closed.
--SB 461-- Rewrites the regulations and registration of cosmetologists, barbers and others. The Department of Public Health will approve regulations of the State Board of Cosmetologists and Barbers which may require rules for training and instruction on HIV and AIDS. Adds that current tattoo laws do not prohibit microblading of the eyebrow.
IF THEY CAN AGREE ON A LIST, WHY DIVORCE?
--HB 190-Everybody knows what a "prenuptial" agreement is, but were you aware of a "antenuptial" agreement? Apparently this is a list of voluntarily agreed upon items after marriage or prior to a divorce. The law treats the two agreements the same (must be in writing and witnessed by two persons, one a notary). SB 190 removes the requirements and sanctions concerning the failure to record a marriage contract and voluntary settlements with the office of the clerk of superior court. Also removes the antiquated term "marriage articles" while retaining "agreements made upon consideration of marriage". Also clarifies that while the marriage of two parties generally releases a debt created prior to the marriage, it does not release either party's debt arising from an antenuptial agreement.
--HB 381-- Concerns abandoned mobile homes. Allows counties and cities to appoint an agent to determine the condition of the mobile home in order for owners to remove of restore abandoned homes. Gives owners guidance to properly identify and dispose of abandoned mobile homes while protecting the rights of property owners, lien holders or others. Provides a process for lienholders including public sale.
--HB 790-- Recommendations of the Court Reform Council. Revises current law pertaining to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OSAH) and the powers of Administrative Law Judges (ALJ). Requires a hearing within 30 days. An ALJ can impose civil penalties not to exceed $1,000 per violation and can issue writs of collection to collect those fines for failing to follow the orders of the court. Decisions are still reviewable by the Fulton Superior Court or of the county of the petitioner. Contested cases against an agency are advisory opinions and reviewed by the executory agency.
WHEN STEALING, BE COURTEOUS AND LEAVE BY THE FRONT DOOR
--HB 890-- Creates a misdemeanor offense for a person convicted of theft by shoplifting who escapes by leaving the premises through the emergency exit.
--HR 993-- Constitutional Amendment creating a Statewide Business Court. Must be voted on in November. Would be state-wide in jurisdiction. Superior Courts could order cases to this court.
Full transcripts of bills may be found at http://www.legis.ga.gov/en-US/default.aspx . Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate. The FY 2019 budget (H.B. 684) may be found at http://www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/AppropriationsDocuments.aspx. As always, I welcome any questions you may have.