Session 2017: Week 8

Session 2017: Week 8

On Monday, February 27, the 2017 legislative session reached its eighth week, one week after the significant “Crossover Day,” the midpoint of our sessions as well as the most extensive. “Crossover Day” marks the final day that bills remain eligible for the Senate’s consideration, so my colleagues and I worked diligently to ensure the bills are sent. The following bills were passed in this session:

House Bill 65

This bill would focus on providing more medical relief for citizens of Georgia by including an additional eight medical conditions for registrars to use medical cannabis through Georgia’s Low THC Oil Patient Registry. The applicable conditions are Tourette’s syndrome; autism spectrum disorder; Epidermolysis Bullosa; Alzheimer’s disease; HIV; AIDS; peripheral neuropathy; and those who are in a hospice program. Individuals with applicable conditions would be allowed to possess cannabis oil with a maximum of 5 percent THC and a maximum amount of 20 fluid ounces and would also be placed on the Low THC Oil Patient Registry after registering with the Georgia Department of Public Health. After meeting the aforementioned requirements, they would also receive a registration card exempting them from prosecution
in Georgia for the possession of medical cannabis oil that has been legally obtained in another state. As long as an individual’s medical cannabis complies with Georgia laws, this bill also provides requital in regards to medical cannabis of other states. Proof of the program’s success lies within the current number of patients registered – over 1,300. The addition of these eight medical conditions will prove beneficial to Georgians.

House Bill 427

This bill also seeks to improve Georgia health by extending the current service cancelable loan program for physicians and practitioners in underserved areas, though it focuses on rural Georgia hospitals. Successfully educated dentists, physician assistants, and advanced practice registered nurses would be applicable for loans and those loans could be repaid by health care practitioners who agree to provide health care services in rural areas. The bill seeks to draw quality health care providers to areas in need of medical assistance, and can successfully do so by directing the issue with statewide support.

House Bill 338

This bill focuses on the education system, offering a turnaround school with an advanced form of supervision to schools with the lowest performance rates through a system that falls under the State Board of Education’s (SBOE) intervention power. A leader of the turnaround system, a Chief Turnaround Officer (CTO) appointed by the SBOE, would have a minimum of 10 years experience in K-12 education, as well as at least 3 years of experience as a public school principal or a higher form of employment. Responsibilities of the CTO would include management and supervision of turnaround schools, as well as recommendation of turnaround coaches (employers who will aid in improving failing schools and creating solution strategies on poverty, wellness, transportation, and adult education). Another responsibility would be the suggestion of these failing schools to enter into an intervention contract, whereupon their removal from the SBOE’s current intervention process would be completed. Additionally, this bill would make the SBOE more able to remove local boards of education, create a Joint Study Committee on the Establishment of a State Accreditation Process, and create a Joint Study Committee on the Establishment of a Leadership Academy to help establish a leadership academy for principals and school leaders. This bill seeks to unravel the issues of our young learners and to improve Georgia’s underperforming schools.

House Bill 245

This bill hopes to accelerate the process that allows military spouses to qualify for temporary certificates, certificates by endorsement, or expedited certificates that facilitate their entry into Georgia’s workforce upon moving to our state. The Military Spouses and Veterans Licensure Act was passed in our last session, which required the state to initiate a process where military spouses could qualify for profession, business, or trade temporary licenses, licenses by endorsement, and expedited licenses. Although this act addressed a prevalent concern faced by military families, it deliberately excluded teacher’s licenses from eligibility. This bill addresses this exclusion by authorizing military spouses who previously educated in other states to teach in Georgia’s public schools, thus allowing them immediate employment upon arrival. We have the 5th largest military population in the nation, so we want to support the processes that allow even more individuals to enter our workforce and provide for their families. This bill ensures that Georgia remains one of the most military friendly states in America.

House Bill 470

This bill would permit the Department of Economic Development’s creation of the Governor’s Defense Initiative, a grant program that would review the economic development opportunities in and around military bases and provide assistance to the communities surrounding these facilities. Beginning with the military community submitting a grant application to the Department of Economic Development, the grant process would allow the department to decide the grant amount on a case-by-case basis, while regarding the proposed goal of the grant, the extent that the grant would improve the relationship between the military community and facilities, the promotion of the military installation’s economic development investment into the community, or assistance in efforts to protect the military installation from a federal review. To receive the grant, the military community must match the awarded funds allocated by the Department of Economic Development in order to receive the grant. This bill would provide military communities with financial and investment opportunities and would also preserve Georgia’s military installations, which make up the largest economic development investment in our state and supply thousands of community jobs; therefore, investment in these military communities ensures a positive relationship between military installations and their communities. All of our military-friendly bills in this session illustrate our support of the military personnel who make such tremendous sacrifices for our welfare.

House Bill 330 and House Bill 331

House Bill 330 would ensure that the Division of Family and Children Services supplies kinship caregivers or relatives/family friends who are guardians of a child with contact information for a regional DFCS case worker who is knowledgeable in the areas of kinship care and financial assistance. House Bill 331, otherwise known as The Caregiver Educational Consent Act, would give these kinship caregivers the ability to legally consent for educational services and medical service related to academic enrollment and curricular and extracurricular participation, simplifying the process of the child’s school enrollment for the kinship caregiver. The Kinship Caregiver’s Affidavit, valid for one year, would also be included in this bill, a form that would designate the caregiver as a school’s point of contact for the child in terms of attendance, discipline, and educational progress, but would not affect the rights of the child’s legal guardian or parent. Currently, kinship caregivers are only allowed to enroll a child within their care in a school through a non-parental affidavit, which requires a signature from the child’s parent or legal guardian, a signature that may be difficult to obtain. This legislation would provide support to over 100,000 children in Georgia kinship care and would simplify the process of providing important resources to the kinship caregivers and their families.

Now that Crossover Day is behind us, all bills passed by the House must “cross over” to
the Senate and vice versa, and we will then spend the remaining 12 legislative days considering
Senate bills. In these last days of the 2017 session, I hope you will reach out to me if you have
any questions on bills that may be up for consideration during these final weeks. As your
representative, your thoughts and opinions on these important issues are essential to my decision-making process, and I appreciate your input and am happy to answer your questions.

You are welcome to visit me at my capitol office located at 228-A State Capitol Atlanta, GA 30334. I can also be reached by phone at 404.656.5099 or by email at I look forward to hearing from you on how I can help serve Georgia.

For more information about me, interact with me on Facebook. You can also visit to view live streaming of the House proceedings. Check back here next week for more updates on the current legislative session. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative!


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