By: Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia)
Every year, the first of July marks the beginning of a new fiscal year for the state of Georgia and the effective date of a number of laws that were passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor. Here are just a few I want to make sure were on your radar:
The following bills will take effect on July 1, 2019:
Senate Bill 18 allows physicians to partner direction with patients for direct primary care without being subject to insurance regulations. Under this idea, doctors may charge a subscription fee less than an insurance premium for an unlimited number of visits a month. It’s a creative solution we’ve already seen implemented in parts of our district. I’m eager to see how it helps us further tackle the issue of healthcare cost.
Senate Bill 115 helps to further tackle healthcare cost by allowing the Georgia Composite Medical Board to issue telemedicine licenses to doctors who do not reside in Georgia so long as they have a clean disciplinary record. This alternative to traditional medicine is great for folks who live a long way from a doctor and is another step we are taking to help increase access to care in rural Georgia.
House Bill 64, (Margie’s Law), requires doctors to notify you if your mammogram shows dense breast tissue, which can obscure the imaging and can also increase your risk of breast cancer. This is a bill that has been passed in a few other states and will very likely have a positive, life-changing impact on many women across our state, as it has in others.
House Bill 324 allows the limited cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes only. HB 324 authorizes just over nine acres of production in Georgia for a very select number of licenses. The bill also allows University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University, our state’s two land grant universities, to apply for federal licenses to grow and convert cannabis oil for research to answer questions about the benefits and harms such treatments may cause. Don’t confuse this bill with HB 213, the Georgia Hemp Farming Act, which became effective on May 10th and is awaiting Dept. of Ag rules or implementation.
Senate Bill 83 expands the option for public high schools to offer certain courses to include Hebrew Scriptures and the Old and New Testaments.
House Bill 59 allows children of active duty U.S. armed forces to enroll in any school in their attendance zone (county) even prior to establishing residency when their parents are resigned to Georgia by military orders. This bill helps our military families settle into our communities, ensures they can pick their area’s best schools, and raises Georgia’s favor with the Department of Defense in preparation for the next round of Base Realignment and Closure.
House Bill 530 requires the Georgia Department of Education to provide a declaration of homeschooling to local school district but eliminates the egregious mandated “home inspection” found in some previous versions of this bill.
House Bill 218 recognizes college immediately after high school isn’t the right choice for all students. This bill extends the time period students are eligible to receive the HOPE scholarship from 7 year post high school graduation to 10 years post-high school graduation. The bill gives even more time for students who serve in the military.
Senate Bill 60 requires the Department of Education to provide information for students participating in school athletics about the warning signs of cardiac arrest. it requires that a student be removed from participation in athletic activities for signs of cardiac issues, such as passing out or fainting, until a medical professional gives them the go ahead to return to play. We all know how brutally hot Georgia weather can be and want to ensure our athletes are listening to their bodies.
Senate Bill 6 prohibits the use of drones around prisons or jails without warden permission. We had creative citizens using these to drop contraband into jail yards. With 11 prisons in our district, this is a big deal here.
House Bill 193 allows banks to offer promotional raffles to be held in exchange for depositing money into a savings account. With individual savings at near record lows, let’s promote saving for a rainy day anyway we can.
Senate Bill 9 criminalizes “sexual extortion”- coercing an individual into sending nude images, videos or any electronic communication of the individual engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
House Bill 281 increases the penalties for conviction of pimping or pandering.
Last but certainly not least, the 2020 Budget, also known as House Bill 31, begins July 1st and will include a $3,000 pay increase for Georgia's teachers and other certified school personnel including counselors, social workers, psychologists, special education specialists and technology specialist. Allocated in the budget is also a 2% salary increase for assistant teachers and funds to adjust the state base salary schedule to increase salaries for certified Pre-K teachers and certified employees by $3,000. We know that an investment in teachers is an investment in our future and feel that this is a positive step forward in giving teachers the incentive they need to continue their profession. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication, I hope you all have a wonderful 2019-2020 school year!
If you are interested in looking up any other bills to see their status, or when they will become effective, you can do it by going to www.senate.ga.gov and typing in the bill number in the top left hand corner. Once there, it will take you to the bill’s page. Under “status history,” you will see what the latest action on the bill is. If it’s been signed, it will also give you an effective date. Senate Bill 25, the first bill to be signed into law this past session, is a good example: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20192020/SB/25.
As always, please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you or if you have questions about other bills. It is a pleasure to serve you under the Gold Dome.