______________________________________________ - Week 6: Feb 12, 2018
Georgia State Representative - Democrat  -  State Representative District 53
What’s Happening….UNDER THE GOLD DOME
Week 6 started Monday, February 12, 2018
~for Legislative Days 19 through 22~
Bills Passing This Week:
HB 487: Emergency Response Volunteers
HB 678: Surprise Hospital Billing For Scheduled Procedures
HB 79: Protect our Information
HB 749: Military Retirement Income
HB 740: Improve Students’ Learning Environments
HB 635: Adult Abuse, Neglect & Exploitation Multidisciplinary Team
HB 930: Transportation
House Bill 487 - Emergency Response Volunteers
-would provide more flexibility to emergency response volunteers
- would allow state agency employees who are certified Civil Air Patrol disaster service volunteers to be granted paid leave for no more than 15 work days per year to participate in Civil Air Patrol specialized emergency service operations
-eligible state employees would be required to get permission from their employer, and volunteers would only be allowed to use this leave at the request of the Civil Air Patrol once a county emergency management agency, the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency or a comparable federal agency has activated emergency services
-would give Civil Air Patrol volunteers the same leave allowances as American Red Cross volunteers for specialized emergency services
-would ensure that those who volunteer with the Civil Air Patrol do not lose seniority, pay, vacation, compensatory time, sick time or earned accumulated overtime at work because of their assistance in emergency situations
-Civil Air Patrol volunteers play a vital role in search and rescue and disaster relief efforts, and this measure would allow these hardworking volunteers to serve without facing penalties in the workplace.
House Bill 678 - Surprise Hospital Billing For Scheduled Procedures
-would provide several consumer protections regarding health insurance
-would prevent patients from receiving “surprise” bills, which can be 10 to 12 times higher than in-network charges, when an out-of-network doctor participates in their treatment team during an elective procedure.
-hospitals, health care providers and insurers would be required to disclose to patients which doctors in their treatment team are part of their insurance network, which health care plans they participate in and which hospitals they are affiliated with prior to providing nonemergency services.
-the provider would be required to give the patient an estimated bill upon request, If a provider is not in the patient’s network,
-would also allow patients to request and obtain information about other medical professionals and hospitals and potential care costs before care is given.
-patients who receive a surprise bill would have the right to file a dispute with an arbitrator from the insurance department.
-would require insurance providers to bill patients for services within 90 days, and the patient would have 90 days once they receive the bill to secure payment, negotiate or initiate a dispute.
Two out of three Georgians will receive a surprise medical bill in the next two years. These unexpected and expensive out-of-networks bills have forced some Georgians into bankruptcy.  This bill is an effort to increase transparency and eradicate surprise hospital billing for scheduled Procedures.  The passage of this legislation is a positive step forward in eliminating this frustrating practice and increasing transparency between patients, health care providers and insurers.
House Bill 79 - Protect our Information
-would require law enforcement agencies that obtain license plate information through automated license plate recognition systems to destroy unused data after 30 months.
-agencies would be allowed to keep this data beyond 30 months if the data is part of an ongoing investigation or a toll violation.
-would  permit law enforcement agencies to share license plate information with other agencies, as well as impose penalties for unlawfully sharing this information, and captured license plate data collected would be exempt from open records requests
-would strengthen our state’s privacy laws and protect Georgians from having their license plate information stored indefinitely or subject to open records requests
These automated systems are high-speed cameras that use computer algorithms to convert images of license plates into computer data, and currently, there is no limit to how long law enforcement agencies can save this data.  This Bill aims to protect our information from being unnecessarily saved for an undetermined period of time.
House Bill 749 - Military Retirement Income
-would benefit Georgia’s retired veterans and their families by specifying that military retirement income is excluded from Georgia income tax
-if a deceased veteran’s surviving family member, regardless of the family member’s age, were to receive any military retirement income, it would also be excluded from state income tax under this legislation.
- would bring Georgia up to speed with other states that have instituted similar pro-military policies
Georgia has passed many military-friendly measures over the past several years, but Georgia is currently one of only nine states in the nation that does not address military retirement pay tax exemptions.
House Bill 740 - Improve Students’ Learning Environments
-would prohibit schools from expelling or suspending students in public preschool through third grade for five or more days per school year without first providing the student with a multi-tiered system of supports
-would not prohibit a school from suspending a student who is in possession of a weapon, drugs or any other dangerous item
-this multi-tiered system of supports includes a team of educational professionals, such as school social workers and guidance counselors, as well as Response to Intervention (RTI), a preexisting program that identifies and addresses students’ academic and behavioral needs to help them succeed in the classroom.
The RTI program brings together educational professionals to help identify students’ academic, behavioral and social-emotional learning needs, and if appropriate, the program screens students for hearing, vision and speech-language disabilities.
There are approximately 15,000 kindergarten through third grade students in Georgia’s public schools that are suspended annually, and approximately 2,600 of those students are assigned out-of-school suspension for five or more days.  Rather than continuously suspending and expelling students from the classroom and limiting students’ access to integral curriculum, this Bill addresses students’ underlying needs to help improve their educational outcomes.
House Bill635 - Adult Abuse, Neglect & Exploitation Multidisciplinary Team
-would protect our state’s elderly and disabled adult populations, groups that are particularly vulnerable to neglect and abuse
-would authorize district attorneys in each judicial circuit to establish an Adult Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Multidisciplinary Team to coordinate investigations of and responses to suspected elder or disabled adult abuse, neglect or exploitation
-would be made up of the district attorney or his/her designee and representatives from law enforcement agencies, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Adult Protective Services and any other relevant state department, organization or entity
-would grant team members the legal right to share information generated in the team’s investigations, responses and activities with one another, thus allowing the people involved in such cases to work collaboratively to address these issues
-would identify ways to improve local notification and response policies and procedures when an elderly person or disabled adult is abused, neglected or exploited
Elder abuse is on the rise in every county and every city in our state, and this measure would allow for seamless cooperation between those who work for the good of our state’s elderly and disabled adults.
House Bill 930 - Transportation
-would create a new regional governance and funding structure for transit in the 13-county metropolitan Atlanta region
-would improve the coordination, integration and efficiency of transit in the Metro Atlanta region and promote a seamless and high-quality transit system for the Metro Atlanta region
-would create the Atlanta-region Transit Link (the ‘ATL’), a regional transit governance structure that would coordinate transit planning and funding and would oversee all Metro Atlanta transit activity, including planning, funding and operations
- would improve access to transit funding for the region from state and local sources, and the measure would preserve the current operational and funding autonomy of transit providers, such as MARTA
This Bill is a product of the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding, which was established by House Resolution 848 during the 2017 legislative session to study Georgia’s transit needs and analyze ways for the state to adequately plan and provide for those needs. I will continue to update you in the coming weeks on the status of this critically important bill.
We will reconvene Tuesday, February 20 - for legislative Day 23
only 17 legislative days remain until we adjourn
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  -  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.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.