Georgia Political News Update

March 2, 2020

Pardon Our Dust

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The Georgia General Assembly convened for legislative days 17 – 21 of the 2020 Legislative Session. The Legislature continued to work on essential topics and introduced some significant legislation before the halfway mark in the 40-day session.

Also, qualifying for the state elections will begin this week at the Georgia State Capitol.  

Health & Human Services – House Bill 987

Introduced by Representative Sharon Cooper (R-43), the bill provides additional measures for the protection of elderly persons. The legislation increases fines for violations by healthcare facilities and creates staffing, training, and financial stability requirements for personal care homes and assisted living communities.  The bill passed the House Health and Human Services Committee and awaits a hearing on the House floor.

Transportation – House Bill 936

Sponsored by Representative John Corbett (R-174), the bill provides standards for digital driver’s licenses and identification cards and limits police officers from searching a person’s wireless telecommunication device if an individual utilizes the device to provide electronic identification. The bill is currently in the House Motor Vehicles Committee.

Education – Senate Bill 367

Sponsored by Senator P.K. Martin and backed by Governor Brian Kemp and state school Superintendent Richard Woods – the bill would amend the state’s student assessment program to reduce the number of assessments administered and establishes parameters for the timing of their administration. The proposed changes would continue end-of-grade annual evaluations for students in grades three through eight in the subjects of English Language Arts/Reading and Mathematics. The bill would also have end-of-grade assessments in science for grades five and eight; and social studies for eighth grade while eliminating the fifth-grade social studies assessment. In high school, students would take only one end-of-course assessment for the four core subjects rather than multiple core assessments under the current program. The bill would also change the timing of the ninth grade writing assessment by allowing students to take the high school writing exam at any time in grades nine through twelve. The bill passed the Senate Education Committee and awaits a hearing on the Senate floor.

Transportation – House Bill 105

A bill initially sponsored by Representative Sam Watson (R-172) related to disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Michael moved out of a Senate committee this week with an additional purpose – to add a 50 cent fee to rideshare services in Georgia. The Senate version of the bill would replace a sales tax adopted last year on rideshares, like Uber, Lyft, and taxi, and limo rides with the per-ride new flat fee starting April 1st. After passing the Senate Finance Committee, the bill awaits a hearing on the Senate floor before sending the changes back to the House for final approval.

Judiciary – Senate Bill 390 and Senate Bill 415

Sponsored by Senator Steve Gooch (R-51) – the long-rumored legislative proposal seeks to reform the state’s civil justice system with new tort reforms aimed at reducing the cost for Georgia businesses in the event of a civil suit. The bill would cap what some have argued to be excessive jury verdicts and would limit when businesses get sued for events taking place on their property. The bills are assigned to the Senate Judiciary and Senate Insurance Committees, respectively.