______________________________________________ - Week 4: Jan 29-Feb 1
Georgia State Representative - Democrat  -  State Representative District 53
What’s Happening….
UNDER THE GOLD DOME
Week 4 of the Legislative Session started Monday, January 29, 2018
~for Legislative Days 11 through 14~
 
 
We started our fourth week of the 2018 legislative session under the Gold Dome Monday, January 29.  The House of Representatives convened Monday through Thursday to take up important issues and pass meaningful legislation for the good of every Georgian.  House committees continued to hold hearings to review and discuss Bill proposals.
 
The Adoption Bill – HB 159:
House Bill 159 unanimously passed in the House chamber.  This Bill would completely overhaul Georgia’s current adoption laws.  The Senate passed their version of the adoption Bill and made several changes to the original House version of the legislation. This week, the House collaborated with the Senate and the governor’s office to reach a compromise on HB 159, and after much deliberation, the House approved several of the Senate’s amendments and made a few additional changes to the legislation.
 
The newest version of the Adoption Bill would:
--update Georgia’s revocation period from a 10 days to four days. In Georgia, birth mothers currently have 10 days to revoke the surrender of their child. This 10-day revocation period is one of most rigorous revocation policies in the nation, and the new version of HB 159 seeks to strike the right balance between the rights of birth mother and the adoptive parents by shortening this revocation period.
--the House version of the adoption Bill would allow birth mothers to receive reasonable living expenses in both private and agency adoptions. Under current law, only birth mothers in agency adoptions are allowed reasonable living expenses, but this change would create a level playing field and give all birth mothers equal access to reasonable living expenses, regardless of which type of adoption they go through.
--the Bill includes several safeguards on temporary powers of attorney. The updated adoption Bill is now back in the Senate.  After the Bill has passed in the Senate – it will then go to the desk of the Governor for final approval.  This is the law in most states in the country.
 
Tax Liens - House Bill 661:
House Bill 661 unanimously passed in the House chamber.  This  Bill would:
--change the process for filing and removing tax liens against real estate
--update legislation that Governor Deal signed into Georgia law last year, which created a more efficient and transparent method for filing tax liens with the Department of Revenue.
-- keep the efficiencies of the original legislation, but would simply remove the current provision regarding statewide liens and revert back to county specific liens.
--require every tax lien against realty to be filed with the superior court clerk in the county where the real estate is located.
--not only simplify the process for filing and removing tax liens, but it would also increase transparency for taxpayers by moving the Department of Revenue’s process to electronic-based transactions and away from paper-based transactions.
 
Motor Fuel Tax Reports  - House Bill 694
House Bill 94 unanimously passed in the House chamber.  This Bill is aimed at modifying portions of Georgia’s tax laws, and would:
--update the way motor fuel distributors and wholesalers submit their monthly motor fuel tax reports to the Department of Revenue.
Current law requires motor fuel distributors to file these reports electronically if they owe the department $500 or more, but the new measure would require all monthly reports to be submitted electronically, regardless of the distributor’s tax liability.
--modernize and streamline the filing process for our state’s oil distributors.
 
the term “law enforcement officer” - House Bill 135
House Bill 135 passed in the House chamber.  This Bill would:
--provide more law enforcement officers with important state retirement benefits.
--expand the term “law enforcement officer” to include Department of Driver Services (DDS) investigators.
Investigators would qualify to receive up to an additional five years of creditable service in the state’s Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) for prior law enforcement service. DDS investigators would only be eligible for this benefit if they are not receiving retirement benefits from a local government for that same service and if they have been a member of the retirement system for at least ten years.
 
The Governor signed a measure into law in 2016 that allowed all other law enforcement officers to obtain creditable service through the ERS, but the measure inadvertently omitted 16 investigators employed by DDS. HB 135 would correct this oversight by ensuring that those officers who are investigating fraudulent licenses are eligible to receive creditable retirement benefits.
 
Georgia’s official state insect – House Bill 671
House Bill 671 unanimously passed in the House chamber - a measure in support of Georgia’s official state insect, the honey bee.  This Bill would:
--create a specialty license plate to promote the conservation and protection of the honey bee.
--the license plate would display an image of a honey bee and include the phrase “Save the Honey Bee.”  
--these license plates would be available for purchase, and all proceeds collected from the license plate sales would be distributed to the Georgia Beekeepers Association. These funds would be used to raise awareness about honey bee conservation and would fund and support several associated programs, including beekeeper education and training, prison beekeeping, grants to beekeeping nonprofit organizations and beekeeping research facilities in our state.
 
Georgia is the third largest producer of bees and the tenth largest producer of honey in the nation. The honey bee is absolutely essential in sustaining our state’s ecosystems, and this measure would help to ensure that our state insect and the beekeeping industry are preserved for future Georgians.
           
~ The House will be reconvene for Legislative Day 15
Monday, February 5th at 1:00pm ~
 
I encourage you to visit me at my Capitol office during session.  My office is located across from the State Capitol, in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Suite 411.  Feel free to call or email me with any concerns regarding current or upcoming legislation:  Sheila.Jones@house.ga.gov  -  404.656.0126.
 
Visit the House website, www.house.ga.gov, for several tools that might be useful to you throughout the legislative session:
• live stream of House proceedings
• live and archived committee meeting videos
• detailed information on all legislation we are considering in the General Assembly.
 

You may also visit my Web page: www.SheilaJones.org
 

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.