The Georgia General Assembly completed its 28th legislative day of the 2012 session on Wednesday, Feb. 29. As Super Tuesday and the Presidential Preference Primary election for Georgia approach, the Legislature will continue with the people’s work at our Capitol on Monday.
The Legislature was in session for three days this week, debating legislation on the House floor and spending the remainder of our time in committee meetings. These committee meetings take place before and after session, as well as the days we are not officially in session. I serve as chairman of the Economic Development and Tourism Committee and also serve as a member on the following committees: appropriations, rules and ways and means.
With Crossover Day quickly approaching, legislation must pass the House committees and be passed on the House floor by the end of session on legislative day 30 in order to be considered by the Senate and for possible passage into law this session. Many bills passed the House this week, and I will highlight some of them here. Several bills passed this week related to education and the care of our younger students. House Bill 692 relates to educational professionals and specifically to elementary and secondary education. The bills would require that, in the event that an educator is found guilty of falsifying or admits to falsifying student standardized test scores, the educator will have to return any bonus or incentive received as a result of the test achievement. HB 845 passed 115-40 and would require early care education programs and elementary schools to provide information regarding the causes, risk and symptoms of influenza and the availability and effectiveness of the influenza vaccine. HB 208 unanimously passed; it shortens the sunset revision for retired teachers to come back to work as a full-time teacher by changing the date (currently they have to stay out a year) from June 30, 2016, to June 30, 2013. HB 215 passed 157-4 and would prevent people required to register on the state sexual offender registry from applying for and receiving a commercial driver’s license to operate a vehicle which carries 16 or more people. The intent of this legislation is to ensure that people convicted of these crimes are not allowed to drive commercial vans with our young children, chartered buses for field trips, school buses, etc.
Other legislation also passed the House this week, and it covered a variety of issues. HB 1146 passed 140-16 and would move Vocational Rehabilitation from the Department of Labor into a standalone agency attached to the Department of Human Services. It would create the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Services Board, which would govern the program and would consist of nine members, with at least five board members to include people with disabilities or a family member of a person with disabilities. HB 954 would change the timeframe for elective abortions from 26 weeks to 20 weeks. This legislation passed 102-65 and I voted for it. HB 463 unanimously passed and would allow owners of self-storage facilities to offer insurance on the personal property of individuals renting the units. HB 541 would amend our current code by prohibiting the intimidation or threatening of a law enforcement official or their immediate family member in retaliation for the officer doing his or her job. HB 456 passed 108 to 50 and would create the Georgia Government Accountability Act and allow a review process of state agencies to ensure efficiency. The Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee would be tasked with reviewing the agencies and it would include seven members from each chamber.
The General Assembly continued its work Monday.
I will continue to keep you informed throughout the 2012 legislative session. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, ideas, thoughts or concerns. It is an honor and privilege to serve you in the Georgia General Assembly.
If you would like to reach me, please call me at 404-656-5099; write me at: State Rep. Ron Stephens, 226 CAP, State Capitol, Atlanta GA 30334; or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.