Week 7: Tuesday, February
Legislative Days 23 through 26~
769 - Improving access to quality health care in the rural parts of our state
735 -Income tax credit for track maintenance expenditures on owned or leased
short line railroads
HB 876 - Prohibiting counties and municipalities from
banning the use of wood products
HB 853 - public school students, admitted under a
physician’s order into a licensed psychiatric residential treatment center
732 – Fighting the horrific practice of sex trafficking within our state
840 – Georgia’s active-duty military members
918 – Updating Georgia’s tax code
House got back to work at the Georgia State Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 20. This week, the House voted on several bills in
the House Chamber, and committees worked diligently to hear important
legislation before next week’s Cross Over Day deadline.
February 28, marks legislative Day 28, otherwise known as Cross
Over Day. This is the last day a bill may pass out of its original legislative
chamber and remain eligible for consideration this legislative session. With
this deadline in mind, my colleagues and I will be working even longer hours
next week to ensure that quality and meaningful legislation passes the House
Bills Passing This Week:
~The House unanimously passed~
House Bill 769 - Improving
access to quality health care in the rural parts of our state
bill includes several health care provisions, such as allowing for remote
pharmacy orders, updating credentialing and billing practices, establishing the
Rural Center for Health Care Innovation and Sustainability, establishing
micro-hospitals and creating a grant program for physicians practicing in
medically underserved rural areas of the state.
Georgia licensed pharmacist located within the United States could remotely
place pharmacy drug orders for hospital patients, provided that the orders are
reviewed by a pharmacist who is physically in the hospital within 24 hours or
by the next business day.
Department of Community Health would be directed to study various ways to
streamline and expedite the credentialing and billing process for state medical
Rural Center for Health Care Innovation and Sustainability would be established
through the existing Office of Rural Health. This center would provide
leadership training and health data analysis for rural hospitals and would be
located at a Georgia postsecondary institution with a health program or college
that focuses on rural and underserved areas of the state. The center would
educate and train rural hospital leaders on best practices and hospital
operating standards. Furthermore, the legislation would allow for the creation
of micro-hospitals, a hospital in a rural county that has two to seven
inpatient beds and provides 24/7 emergency services, without requiring a new
certificate of need when a hospital is closing or has recently closed and is
purchased by a hospital in a neighboring county.
grant program would be created within the Georgia Board of Physician Workforce
to provide financial assistance for some rural physicians who establish or
operate a practice in an under served area of the state. This measure was the
first RDC-related bill to pass the House this session, and the bill’s
wide-ranging health care provisions would allow this critical sector to thrive
in rural Georgia.
House Bill 735 - Creating
an income tax credit for track maintenance expenditures on owned or leased
short line railroads
legislation mirrors the Federal Railroad Track Maintenance Credit, and the tax
credit would be 50 percent of the maintenance expenditures during the taxable
year and would be capped at $3,500 per mile of railroad track. Short line rails
serve as a virtual lifeline to our rural communities, and this measure would
incentivize investment in rail infrastructure, boost reinvestment, create jobs
and keep rural Georgia connected to the rest of the state.
House Bill 876 - Prohibiting
counties and municipalities from banning the use of wood products as
a construction material, as long as the products meet the state minimum
standard codes and the Georgia State Fire Code. Several cities across the Metro
Atlanta area have banned wood products from being used in construction in
buildings over three stories high, but the Atlanta region is a crucial lumber
market for Georgia tree farmers. This measure would level the playing field for
our state’s tree farmers, as well as boost business for Georgia’s 97 sawmills,
most of which are located in rural parts of the state.
House Bill 853 - Public
school students who are admitted under a physician’s order into a licensed
psychiatric residential treatment center
be exempt from paying tuition or fees to a local school system.
current law, public school students receiving treatment in medical hospitals
are exempt from tuition and fees, but students who are referred to psychiatric
residential treatment facilities are not exempt from such fees.
are six psychiatric residential treatment facility hospitals across our state,
and approximately 300 to 500 students are treated at these centers annually.
would allow these students to continue their education and stay on track
academically while receiving long-term medical and psychological treatment.
House Bill 732 - Fighting
the horrific practice of sex trafficking within our state
expand the definition of sex trafficking to include anyone who patronizes
sexually explicit conduct from a sex trafficking victim.
this clarification to state law, anyone who commits this offense would be
charged with a felony and would be required to serve a prison sentence of five
to 20 years.
ensure that individuals who knowingly engage in sex trafficking acts with
victims of sex trafficking are prosecuted accordingly, and this bill is a
significant step to address this serious issue in our state.
House Bill 840 - Georgia’s
active-duty military members
exempt active-duty military members serving in a combat zone from penalty fees
associated with unintentionally unpaid special, occupational or sales taxes and
license, regulatory or administrative fees incurred while they are in a combat
does not exempt active-duty military members from paying these taxes, but it
does give them 60 days from the time they return from their military service to
make full payment of the taxes due without penalties if they present proof of
their presence in a combat zone.
active-duty military members are unable to renew licenses, like small
businesses licenses, that expire while they are stationed in a combat zone, and
this bill would prevent our service members from being penalized with late fees
while they are deployed.
House Bill 918 - Updating
Georgia’s tax code
make necessary changes to our state’s outdated tax code, which has not been
updated in decades, and seeks to decrease the tax burden on our citizens by
cutting individual and corporate state income taxes.
double the state standard deduction for Georgia taxpayers for all filing
statuses, effective Jan. 1, 2018.
reduce the income tax rate for individuals and businesses from 6 percent to
5.75 percent beginning on Jan. 1, 2019.
further reduce the tax rate to 5.5 percent on Jan. 1, 2020, but would require
approval of the General Assembly and signature of the governor in order to take
eliminate the sales tax on jet fuel to help our state be more competitive and
to encourage airlines to fly additional direct flights from Georgia to global
revenue neutral tax proposal would also address the state revenue projections
resulting from the recent Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
historic tax update would benefit all of Georgia’s citizens by allowing them to
keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets, and I am proud of the
General Assembly’s work on this important measure.
year, the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court addresses the General
Assembly to report on the judicial branch’s accomplishments and future
objectives. Chief Justice Hines, who
serves as the head of the judiciary delivered the annual State of the Judiciary
address. He pointed out that 2018 will
bring about great change to the judicial branch, as several new judges will be
will elect a new state Supreme Court justice and Gov. Deal will make his fifth
appointment to Georgia’s highest court. Chief Justice Hines also highlighted
several accomplishments of Georgia’s criminal justice reform, which is one of
Gov. Deal’s greatest legacies during his time in office.
Justice Hines announced that the Court Reform Council recommended the creation
of a statewide business court to handle complex financial cases. This court
would have jurisdiction similar to our federal courts and would operate
similarly to the specialized business courts that now operate in Fulton and
Gwinnett counties. Legislation relating to these courts will likely come before
the General Assembly in the future.
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: Sheila.Jones@house.ga.gov
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.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your