2018 Legislative Session – Week 6 Update

Last Monday, February 12, marked the sixth week of this year’s legislative session. We are halfway through the 2018 session! My colleagues and I have picked up the pace in order to ensure the passage of important legislation for Georgia’s success. If you missed my last blog post, you can view that here. Continue reading to learn about bills the House was able to pass in week six.

House Bill 487 – Emergency Response Volunteers

The House passed HB 487 with a vote of 161-1. This bill would allow for certified Civil Air Patrol disaster service volunteers to be granted paid leave for up to 15 work days per year to participate in Civil Air Patrol specialized emergency service operations. These volunteers would need permission from their employers and would only be allowed to use this paid leave at the request of the Civil Air Patrol. This bill would protect these volunteers’ salary, seniority, vacation time, compensatory time, sick time, or accrued overtime pay when assisting GA citizens in emergency situations.

House Bill 678 – Transparency in our Healthcare System

House Bill 678  would provide protections against patients receiving surprise bills and would allow them to request information about medical professionals and care costs before treatment. Bills can be 10-12 times higher than in-network charges when an out-of-network doctor administers treatment during an elective procedure. HB 678 would require require hospitals, healthcare providers, and insurers to make sure patients know which doctors in their treatment team are covered by their insurance network, what healthcare plans a doctor participates in, and what hospitals a doctor is affiliated with. Providers not a part of a patient’s network would be required to provide an estimated bill when requested. Lastly, this bill would require insurance providers to bill patients within 90 days. The patient would have 90 days upon receiving the bill to pay, negotiate, or to file a dispute. In the event that a patient receives a surprise bill, he or she would have the right to file a dispute with an arbitrator from the insurance department.

House Bill 79 – Law Enforcement & Information Protection

The House passed HB 79 in order to strengthen our privacy laws through preventing license plate information from being saved for an undetermined amount of time unnecessarily. This bill would require law enforcement agencies to destroy unused data obtained through automated license plate recognition after 30 months. Exceptions would include information being used in an ongoing investigations or a toll violations. HB 79 would also also law enforcement agencies to share license plate information with other agencies and impose penalties for unlawful sharing of information. In addition, collected license plate data would be exempt from open records requests.

House Bill 749 – Protecting Georgia’s Veterans

House Bill 749 would exclude military retirement income from Georgia income tax. Those who receive military retirement through a deceased veteran’s retirement income would also benefit from this measure. Signing this bill into law would bring us up to speed with other states who have implemented similar legislation.

House Bill 740 – Preventing School Suspensions

HB 740 would prohibit expulsion or suspension of public school students, preschool through third grade, for more than 5 days without first providing a multi-tiered system of support. This support would include a team of educational professionals and Response to Intervention (RTI) which is a program aimed at meeting student’s behavioral, social-emotional, and learning needs in order to help them to succeed. This bill would not prohibit suspension for cases related to weapons, drugs, or similar life-threatening related issues. Instead of answering behavioral issues with suspension, we want to find different ways to address issues in the classroom while addressing the underlying needs of our students.

House Bill 635 – Protecting our state’s Elderly Citizens

HB 635 would allow district attorneys to establish an Adult Abuse Neglect and Exploitation Multidisciplinary Team to coordinate investigations related to elder or disabled adult abuse. These multi-agency teams would have the legal right to share investigation information with one another in order to collaborate and come up with better strategies for elderly abuse cases. Teams would consist of the district attorney or a designee and representatives from law enforcement agencies, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Adult Protective Services, and any other relevant state department, organization, or entity.

House Bill 930 – Georgia Transportation Improvements

The last bill I want to share with you concerns the continued improvement of transportation in our state. HB 930 would create the Atlanta-region Transit Link, a regional transit governance structure tasked with transit planning & funding as well as overseeing all Metro Atlanta transit activity. This bill is an extension of HR 848 which established the House Commission of Transit Governance and Funding. This commission studies and plans for our state’s transit needs.

My colleagues and I are currently in week 7 working diligently as we approach the last few weeks of session.  You are always welcome to come and visit me at my capitol office located at 601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg. Atlanta, GA 30334. You can view my committee assignments for legislative term here. Please feel free to contact me by phone at 404.656.0254, or by email at dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov.  Don’t hesitate to reach out throughout the legislative session with any opinions or questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you!