The Georgia General Assembly wrapped up day 35 of the 2016 legislative session (March 11), and we are in the process of completing the last five legislative days left on the calendar. We took a running start on Monday, Feb. 29, as we accomplished the Crossover Day deadline.
As a reminder, Crossover Day is observed on the 30th legislative day of session, and serves as the last day for legislation to pass the chamber in which it originated in order for it to ”cross over” to the opposite chamber for consideration. Any bill that did not receive a passing vote in its original chamber will not move forward in the legislative process and must be re-introduced next year.
[Two weeks ago] the Senate voted on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 general budget, which will allocate more than $23 billion in tax revenue. Passing a balanced budget is the last remaining constitutional requirement on this session. It is our job to ensure your hard-earned tax dollars are allocated carefully and responsibly to allow our state to continue to thrive.
For the remaining days of the legislative session, the Senate will be hard at work discussing and passing legislation before the final deadline on March 24. I look forward to updating you on the proceedings of the General Assembly and continuing to represent you here at the Capitol.
Below are the bills passed in the Senate:
Legislative Day 32
• Operation of Watercraft while Under the Influence — HB 172 would alter the current definition of a watercraft “vessel” to allow alcohol to be consumed on a homemade or inflatable raft.
• Grace Period for Campaign Contribution and Financial Disclosure Report — HB 370 establishes a grace period for certain elected officials to re-file campaign contribution reports and financial statements to the Transparency and Finance Commission.
Legislative Day 33
• Creation of a Film Production Wildlife Permit — HB 840 would create a permit to allow the use of certain wild animals for film production and also revise the definition of the term “feral hog”. Producers must obtain a permit if wild animals not previously held in captivity are used in the TV or film production. The Department of Natural Resources is tasked with overseeing permit applications and enforcement of the permit.
• Prohibiting Payment for Unsolicited Goods — HB 697 would prohibit requiring payment for goods after the expiration of a trial period if the goods were provided free of charge. Consumers must provide affirmative consent in order to continue receiving the product and to be charged accordingly.
Legislative Day 34
• Legal claims Against the Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund — HB 844 outlines the process through which legal claims against the Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund are handled. The bill establishes that these claims are under the jurisdiction of the superior court of the Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund Board of Trustees. – HB 844
• Fiscal Year 2017 Budget — HB 751, the Fiscal Year 2017 budget, sets approximately $23.7 billion in state funding from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017. The largest state budget since the 2008 recession, the Senate increased funding for road projects and maintenance, significant improvements to the state’s public safety infrastructure and a 3 percent salary increase for non-licensed school employees, including bus drivers and nurses.
Legislative Day 35
• Georgia Right to Try Act — HB 34, also known as the Georgia Right to Try Act, this bill would allow terminally ill patients access to physician recommended investigational drugs and treatment. The bill states that the patient must provide written informed consent before treatment, and that healthcare providers are not required to cover the cost of treatment. The bill also states that caregivers cannot be held liable for injury or death of a patient as a result of investigational treatment.
• Adding Utility Service Vehicles to the Spencer Pass Law – HB 767 would add utility service vehicles to the list of vehicles covered under the Spencer Pass Law. The Spencer Pass Law instructs drivers to change lanes or reduce speed when approaching stationary maintenance and recovery vehicles parked on the side of the road. The bill also changes the fine for violation of this law from $500 to $250.
• Pharmacy Shipping Methods — HB 886 would allow pharmacies to mail prescription drugs to patients as long as they follow certain shipping methods. According to the bill, pharmacies must use shipping methods recommended by the manufacturer, the United States Pharmacopeia and the Food and Drug Administration.
• Campus Carry Act — HB 859, otherwise known as the Campus Carry Act. This bill would permit gun owners with a valid concealed weapons carry license to carry a concealed handgun in any building or real property owned or leased to a public college, university or other postsecondary institution. The bill provides certain exceptions to this new rule, including athletic sporting events and student housing.
[Sen. Marty Harbin is Vice-Chairman of the Government Oversight Committee. He represents the 16th Senate District, which includes Lamar, Spalding and Pike counties and a portion Fayette County. He may be reached at 404-656-0078 or by email at Marty.firstname.lastname@example.org.]