2019 Legislative Session – Week 12

The House adjourned the 2019 Legislative Session on Tuesday, April 2nd. Passed legislation is headed to the governor’s desk for his signature. Thank you for contacting me with your comments & questions throughout this process.

Please continue to email me at dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov with your concerns for Georgia and any further questions about legislation passed during the 2019 session. Below are the top 5 bills that passed on Day 40.

House Bill 233 – Protecting & increasing GA patients’ access to quality healthcare.

Hb 233, the “Pharmacy Anti-Steering and Transparency Act,” seeks to solve problems in our health insurance system that compromise patient choice and delays care. This bill restricts pharmacies owned or affiliated with insurance companies and Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM’s) from poaching patient information for non-patient care purposes. This bill will also prohibit pharmacies from receiving self-dealing referrals from the PBM’s and insurers they are affiliated with. Pharmacies would be required to disclose the PBMs and insurers they are affiliated with or owned by with the Board of Pharmacy.

The purpose of this bill is to increase the transparency of our pharmaceutical health care system, to hold large health insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers accountable, and to put the focus on patients and their right to choice. Pharmacies affiliated with insurers and PBMs have controlled the market at the expense of citizens in need of immediate, quality care.

House Bill 324 – Low  THC Oil

HB 324, “Georgia’s Hope Act,” allows for the production, manufacturing, and dispensing of low THC Oil with a valid lawful license issued by the Low THC Oil License Oversight Board. Georgia’s Hope Act will also create the Office of Low THC Oil Control within the Department of Health. This department is allowed to issue six private production licenses for two large and four small operations that will be authorized to grow cannabis and hemp products in indoor facilities only for the production of Low THC Oil.  Each production licensee must establish, utilize, and maintain a sophisticated tracking system for all phases of production to allow for real-time department access. HB 324 also provides for two university research grow licenses.

House Bill 424 – Including sex crimes into the definition of criminal gang activity

HB 424 adds trafficking of persons for the labor of sexual servitude, keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, and pandering to the offenses listed in the definition of criminal gang activity. Medicaid recipients would also have the same access to antiretroviral regimens, including single-table regimens, used to treat HIV and AIDS as included in the formulary established for the Georgia AIDS Drug Assistance Program.

House Bill 228 – Raising the minimum marriage age from 16 to 17. 

House bill 228 raises the age for marriage in Georgia to 17 and requires that any person who is 17 years old and wishes to get married to provide documentation of emancipation and undergo six hours of professional marriage counseling. In cases where the purpose of the emancipation is the marry, the court must appoint an attorney for the minor and inquire into the minor’s best interest. HB 228 also states that the senior party in the marriage must be no more than four years older than the 17-year-old younger party.

Senate Bill 15 – School Safety Updates 

Senate Bill 15 creates the “Keeping Georgia’s School’s Safe Act.” This act requires that public schools conduct site threat assessments by a certified private individual, company, or government agency. Every public school must conduct a site threat assessment before Jan. 1, 2021 and ever five years after that. SB 15 also requires all public schools to submit a school safety plan to the Georgia Board of Education after local law enforcement has approved the plan. This bill creates a School Safety Coordinator position for each school and mandates that all schools to promote a statewide mobile app called the “See Something Send Something” anonymous app to report suspicious behavior or potential safety threats.


Thank you for visiting my blog to learn about what your representatives are working on for the state of Georgia. This is my last blog entry detailing passed legislation from the 2019 legislative session, but I still encourage you to reach out to me with your questions & concerns.

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Emaildale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

2019 Legislative Session – Week 9

We are fast approaching “Sine Die,” the last day of the 2019 legislative session. The House will adjourn on April 2nd. In the last 32 legislative days, the House has passed over 160 pieces of legislation! As we draw near to the end of session, I encourage you to reach out to me with any questions. Keep reading to learn what the House passed in week 9.

House Bill 316: Paper Ballots

House Bill 316, sponsored by Rep. Barry Fleming (district 121), changes our voting method by introducing a ballot-marking device with a paper ballot that can be audited. This bill also extends the notice period required for the closing or moving of an existing voting precinct, implements extensive corrective measures for absentee ballots, and extends the amount of time a voter can be inactive before being removed from Georgia voter rolls. Our new voting system will:

-use secure touchscreen ballot markers that are not connected to the internet,
-produce verifiable paper ballots that voters can verify before submitting,
-have the ability to be audited to ensure accuracy,
-and will provide greater accessibility for disabled voters and voters who speak foreign languages.

Passing the Amended Budget

Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, Speaker David Ralston, and leaders from the House and Senate gathered to sign the Amended Budget for Fiscal Year 2019. This budget allocates funds for public education, expands school security initiatives, increases access to healthcare in rural Georgia, and helps farmers and agri-businesses impacted by Hurricane Michael.


Thank you for visiting my blog to learn about what your representatives are working on for the state of Georgia. As the General Assembly works to pass more legislation, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions and concerns. Please return to my blog next week for more updates on this year’s session.

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Emaildale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

2019 Legislative Session – Week 8

Last Wednesday, March 6th, was Crossover Day at the Capitol. Crossover Day is the last day for bills to pass from one chamber to the other and still have a chance to become a law. In this blog post, I’ll share highlights from 4 key bills the House passed during week 8 of the 2019 Legislative session.

House Bill 324 – Georgia’s Hope Act 

HB 324, sponsored by Rep. Micah Gravley (district 67), is known as Georgia’s Hope Act. This bill makes way for the production, manufacturing, and dispensing of low THC oil with a lawful valid license by the Low THC Oil License Oversight Board for sixteen diseases currently allowed under the Georgia Law.

THC Oil Approved illnesses

House Bill 511 – Improving Georgia Transit

HB 511, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (district 9) creates the Department of Mobility and Innovation to govern and coordinate transit services across Georgia. This bill will establish a fee on ride-share services used for transit and transit projects and will create a pilot program for incentives to employers who provide transit benefits to employees. House Bill 511 abolishes the Georgia Regional Transit Authority and moves current employees to the new department. The State Road and Tollway Authority and the Atlanta-Region Transit Link would be attached to this department.

House Bill 247 – Protecting Georgia’s Elderly Citizens

HB 247, sponsored by Rep. Deborah Silcox (district 52), provides that all forms of battery against persons 65 or older will be considered a felony. This bill changes the definition of exploitation to include the illegal taking of resources belonging to a disabled adult or elderly adult when access those resources were obtained due to a victim’s incapacity. House Bill 247 allows law enforcement to conduct inspections of unlicensed personal care homes when acting as an agent of the Department of Community Health.

House Bill 234 – Helping Victims of Human Trafficking

HB 234 – The Anit-Human Trafficking Protective Response Act, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Efstration (district 104), authorizes the DFCS to provide emergency care of any child who is the victim of human trafficking without a court order or consent of the parents or legal guardian. This bill directs DFCS and law enforcement to take the child to a victim services organization certified by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to provide comprehensive trauma-informed services. HB 234 also limits the prosecution of prostitution to individuals who are 18 years old or older.


Thank you for visiting my blog to learn about what your representatives are working on for the state of Georgia. As the General Assembly works to pass more legislation, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions and concerns. Please return to my blog next week for more updates on this year’s session.

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Emaildale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

2019 Legislative Session – Week 7

Last week, the House passed the Fiscal Year 2020 budget. The General Assembly spends a considerable amount of time in committee meetings, discussing the needs of our state to pass a budget that will help Georgia prosper.  Keep reading for more details on this measure and feel free to email me about any budget questions you may have: dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

Passing the FY 2020 Budget

House Bill 31 is set by a revenue estimate of $27.5 billion—a 3.95% increase over the FY 2019 current budget. Below are a few highlights from the FY 2020 budget.

-Recognizes an increase of $38.6 million in new revenue for transportation—an increase of 7% over the current year budget.

-Includes $2.4 million to establish the initial budget for the ATL authority

-Provides $300,000 for the creation of the Blight Removal and Code Enforcement (BRACE) program, which gives grants to communities with a population of 2,500 or less to initiate a free, neighborhood-level cleanup for areas with the most code violations and blight

-Includes a $2,775 pay raise for certified teachers and certified personnel

-$174,000 has been appropriated to hire two school safety threat assessment trainers to work with local school systems to develop threat assessment plans. This allocation is a result of recommendations from the 2018 House School Security Study Committee.

-Includes $78.4 million in the Department of Community Health for Medicaid growth

For more news and highlights about the budget, visit: http://www.house.ga.gov/budget/en-US/newsandhighlights.aspx

Visit the Georgia House of Representatives website for more information about pending legislation, session photos, committee appointments, and several more resources.  There are also  Video Broadcasts of session available weekly.


Thank you for visiting my blog to learn about what your representatives are working on for the state of Georgia. As the General Assembly works to pass more legislation, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions and concerns. Please return to my blog next week for more updates on this year’s session.

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Emaildale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

 

2019 Legislative Session – Week 6

In this blog post, I share highlights from week 6 of the 2019 legislative session. You can find out about more bills the House is working on by following the Georgia House of Representatives on Facebook and Twitter.

House Bill 59: Supporting Service Members and their Families – Education Committee

HB 59, sponsored by Rep. Dave Belton (district 112), would allow parents or guardians on active military duty to pre-enroll children into school when official military orders require them to transfer into or within Georgia. Children will be able to enroll in the same way as residents within the school system – in the public school of the student’s attendance zone or in a public school in a school system in which the military base or off-base housing is located.

House Bill 158: Assisting Citizens with HIV/AIDS – Health and Human Services Committee

HB 158, sponsored by Rep. Deborah Silcox (district 52), states that persons on Medicaid or the AIDS Drug Assistance Program formulary for HIV/AIDS medications will be able to stay on their regimen even if their economic status changes. Each HIV/AIDS patient costs Medicaid $338,000. However, untreated cases would cost Medicaid $1.79 million per patient. This bill emphasizes the importance of HIV/AIDS treatment following a single-tablet regimen format. Studies show that patients are more likely to follow this regimen.

House Resolution 37: Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics

HB 37, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (district 9), creates the Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics. This commission would study and decide the best course of action for the future funding and policy development of the freight and logistics industries.


Thank you for visiting my blog to learn about what your representatives are working on for the state of Georgia. As the General Assembly works to pass more legislation, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions and concerns. Please return to my blog next week for more updates on this year’s session.

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Emaildale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

2019 Legislative Session – Week 5

In week 5 of this year’s legislative session, the General Assembly passed House Bill 25, House Bill 184, and Senate Bill 25.

Did you know that Video broadcasts of the 2019 session are available to you? Visit the Georgia House of Representatives website for more information about pending legislation, session photos, committee appointments, and several more resources. Keep reading for more details on these measures.

House Bill 25 – Contractual Relief for Service Members  – Committee: Judiciary

House Bill 25, sponsored by Representative Dave Belton (district 112), would build on federal protections given to active duty service members through the Service Members Relief Act by allowing service members to opt out of certain contracts with television and audio programming services, internet access services, and health club services.

The purpose of this is to relieve service members from prior agreements if they are called to serve. In order to qualify, service members must be on active duty or receive orders of deployment to a region where identical services are not offered. For example, if a service member receives orders to Poland, he or she will be able to opt out with Direct TV if it’s services are not offered there.

House Bill 184 – “Streamlining Wireless Facilities and Antennas Act” – Committee: Economic Development and Tourism

House Bill 184, sponsored by Representative Brett Harrell (district 106), serves to provide the necessary framework for the deployment of “small cell” technology throughout Georgia. Small cells are the latest wireless transmitters that will enable the deployment of the next generation of wireless service called 5G.

This improvement will allow telecommunications companies to boost their capacity and service reliability. This is an obvious advancement for improving cell phone service reliability, but it will also enable the deployment of new technologies such as autonomous vehicles.

Senate Bill 25 – Updates on Passing a School Bus – Committee: Public Safety & Homeland Security

Senate Bill 25, sponsored by Representative Ginny Ehrhart (district 36), fixes an error in the code concerning passing a school bus. Under this measure, a driver must stop when a school bus is topped on the opposite side of the highway unless the driver is driving on a divided highway separated by a grass median, unpaved area, or physical barrier.


Thank you for visiting my blog to learn about what your representatives are working on for the state of Georgia. As the General Assembly works to pass more legislation, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions and concerns. Please return to my blog next week for more updates on this year’s session.

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Emaildale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

Youth Leadership Henry – State Government Day at the Capitol

Youth Leadership Henry
Photo credit: Youth Leadership Henry

Youth Leadership Henry is a program sponsored by the Henry County Chamber of Commerce that identifies and develops emerging leaders and gives them an environment in which they learn and grow. These students meet regularly throughout the year to learn about the needs of Henry County from local leaders, professionals, and teachers in their community.

On Tuesday, February 5th, these young leaders visited my colleagues and me at the Capitol building. We had the pleasure of showing students around the Capitol and speaking to them about what we do as lawmakers to meet the needs of our communities. Talking with these students was very encouraging, and they seemed to enjoy getting an up-close look of local government. I enjoyed seeing young people who are interested in being aware of the issues of their community and wanting to do something about it. They are setting a terrific example to their peers and showing them that they don’t have to wait until after school to begin taking the initiative to solve problems.

If you are interested in your student applying for this program in the fall, Visit the Youth Leadership Henry website. Take a look at their Facebook page as well to see some photos of their excursions.

Youth Leadership Henry
Photo Credit: Youth Leadership Henry

The General Assembly is currently working through the 4th week of the 2019 legislative session. As we begin to pass even more pieces of legislation, I encourage you to reach out to me with any opinions or questions you may have.

How to Reach Me:

Help me serve you better by informing me of the needs you see in your community. I encourage you to reach out to me with questions, comments, and concerns about legislation we are working on throughout this session. You are also welcome to visit me at the Capitol.

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Emaildale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

2019 Legislative Session – Week 3

During week 3 of the 2019 legislative session, the House and the Senate began their regular committee meetings—the first consisting of adopting rules and hearing presentations.

Bills at a Glance

The Council for Quality Growth has been tracking the development of Senate Bill 2, Senate Bill 17, House Bill 22, House Bill 23, and House Bill 100—HB 22 and HB 23 passed out of the House of Economic Development Committee last Monday. These bills are all related to allowing nonprofit telephone companies and electric membership corporations to provide broadband service to rural Georgia. The Council is also keeping an eye on House Bill 49 and House Bill 48. HB 49 would allow the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District to study whether there is value in interbasin water transfer from the Tennesee River as part of the Metro Water District’s conservation management plans. HB 48 concerns the proposed reinstatement of excise motor fuel & natural gas tax exemptions for certain public mass transit vehicles.

The Impact of E-scooters in Atlanta

If you’ve been to Atlanta recently, I’m sure you’ve noticed more than a few electric scooters parked on sidewalks. Last spring, Bird and Lime introduced their electric, shared scooters into Atlanta as a new form of transportation for anyone trying to cheaply get around the city in a more eco-friendly way. Now, we are seeing even more e-scooter companies preparing to provide this service as well.

Senate Bill 24 would require electric personal assistive mobility devices to be licensed under Georgia’s Motor Vehicle Law. This would require scooters to be titled and carry separate motor vehicle insurance making rental financially nonviable.

Data shows that 79% of people have a “positive perception.” According to the United States Department of Energy, 60% of car trips in the US are less than 6 miles and 40% of car trips are less than 2 miles. The study also shows that E-scooters could dramatically reduce the number of cars on the road.

If balanced with the proper safety considerations, e-scooters could do wonders for mobility in metro Atlanta considering its affordability, ease of use, and eco-friendly benefits. I’ll update you on this as it develops.


The House is currently working through the 4th week of this year’s legislative session. As we begin to pass even more pieces of legislation, I encourage you to reach out to me with any opinions or questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you!

2019 Legislative Session – Week 2

Last week, the House and the Senate met for joint Appropriations Committee hearings on the Amended Fiscal Year 2019 (AFY 2019) and the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY 2020) budget. Here are just a few key appropriations.

AFY 2019 Budget Highlights:

-$1 million will be allocated to the Department of Community Health to craft state flexibility options for Georgia’s Medicaid Program.
-$8.4 million is allocated to expand the APEX program in public schools
-$69 million is allocated for school safety measures. Every Georgia public school will receive $30,000 for security improvements.

FY 2020 Budget Highlights:

-The budget includes a 2% merit increase for all state employees.
-$500,00 will go towards initial funds to create a gang task force within the GBI.
-A $3,000 permanent salary increase is allocated for teachers—the largest teacher pay raise in Georgia’s history.

We are still early in the Budget Process. You can follow along here, and I will continue to update you weekly on how the state’s budget will be spent.

My Committee Assignments

Below you can find the committees I am assigned to this session and learn more about each.

Appropriations – Vice-Chairman of Subcommittee
Judiciary – Member
Motor Vehicles – Member
Regulated Industries – Member
Small Business Development – Member
Transportation – Member
Ways & Means – Secretary

Follow the Legislative Process

There are several ways to stay up to date with what is happening at the Capitol.

Check the status of legislation here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/Search.aspx
Watch live broadcasts of session: http://www.house.ga.gov/mediaServices/en-US/VideoBroadcasts.aspx

Follow the Georgia House of Rep. on Facebook and Twitter.

How to Reach me:

Help me serve you better by informing me on the needs you see in your community. I encourage you to reach out to me with questions, comments, and concerns about legislation we are working on throughout this session:

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Email: dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov


Your representatives are currently working through the third week of session. Each week, you can return to my blog to read updates on what the General Assembly is working on for the state of Georgia. 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!

 

2019 Legislative Session – Week 1

Brian Kemp Address

On Monday, January 14th, the General Assembly began this year’s 2019 Legislative Session. Every year, my colleagues and I meet for 40 days to pass bills for the betterment of Georgia. I will update you weekly on what is happening at the Capitol building and what you can expect from your representatives.

Governor Kemp’s State of the State Address & Budget Updates

The House got the opportunity to hear from Governor Brian Kemp on Thursday, January 17th. Gov. Kemp went over some of his budget initiatives including:

-$3,000 pay increase for teachers
-$69 million in school security grants
-$1 million towards the state health department’s budget to expand access to Federal Medicaid waivers

In all, Gov. Kemp estimated $27.5 billion for the 2020 State revenue estimate—$2.3 billion higher than Gov. Deal’s 2019 budget. The governor did recommend to eliminate state support for the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District. At $200,000, it accounts for 18% of the District’s budget. The House does not advise this cut at this point in light of the ongoing Tri-State water litigation. Gov. Kemp rejected a $250,000 request by the Georgia Regional Transporation Authority for additional Xpress operations support and a $10 million request by the State Roads & Tollway Authority for year three of the 10-year operations of the Northwest Corridor and I-75 South.

However, the ATL Authority did receive an additional $2.5 million for operations related to the Authority’s startup. Improvements in transit and transportation will be a focus during this session. House Transporation Chairman Kevin Tanner and Council Board Member Sen. Brandon Beach are leading the charge on advocating for legislation to fund multi-year transportation and infrastructure needs for the expansion and efficiency of metro Atlanta’s transit systems.

I will have much more to relay to you regarding budget allocations as session continues. And, if you weren’t aware, video broadcasts of session are available to you. Visit the Georgia House of Representatives website for more information about pending legislation, session photos, committee appointments, and several more resources.

2019 Senate and House Leadership

Below, I’ve listed out leaders from both chambers. You can click through each of their names to find more information about them.

House:

Speaker of the House – David Ralston
Speaker Pro Tempore – Jan Jones
Majority Leader – Jon Burns
Majority Whip – Trey Kelley
Majority Caucus Chair – Matt Hatchett
Majority Caucus Vice Chair – Micah Gravley

Minority Leader – Robert Trammell
Minority Whip – William Boddie
Minority Caucus Chair – James Beverly
Minority Caucus Vice Chair – Erica Thomas

Governor’s Floor Leaders – Jodi Lott, Terry Rogers, Bert Reeves, & Dominic LaRiccia

Senate:

President Pro Tempore – Butch Miller
Majority Leader – Mike Dugan
Majority Whip – Steve Gooch
Majority Caucus Chair – John Kennedy
Majority Caucus Vice Chair – Larry Walker

Minority Leader – Steve Henson
Minority Whip – Harold Jones
Minority Caucus Chair – Gloria Butler
Minority Caucus Vice Chair – Emanuel Jones

Governor’s Floor Leaders – Blake Tillery & Brian Strickland


Your representatives are currently working through the second week of session. Each week, you can return to my blog to read updates on what the General Assembly is working on for the state of Georgia.

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 the 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!