Courtesy of Sen. Larry Walker (R – Perry)
The beginning of a new fiscal year is always an exciting time for legislators as we get to see a lot of the hard work we put into the legislative session come to fruition. July 1st is quickly approaching, and I want to let you know about some of the state-wide changes we’ll be seeing this year. The biggest of them is arguably the state’s General 2020 budget, which includes a $3,000 pay increase for teachers and other certified school employees, but there are some other bills we passed this session that you should be looking forward to seeing implemented. Here are a few of these bills:
Education Related Legislation:
There are a several laws that are going into effect on July 1, just before the school year begins, that parents and students might notice. The first, Senate Bill 60, requires the Department of Education to provide information for students participating in school athletics about the warning signs of cardiac arrest. Additionally, it requires that a student be removed from participation in athletic activities for signs of cardiac issues, such as passing out or fainting, until a medical professional can check them out. This is something we hope will bring awareness to the signs of cardiac arrest and encourage students to take these symptoms seriously and not return to physical activity until they have been given the ‘go ahead’.
House Bill 12 requires public schools to post the DFCS child abuse hotline phone number in a visible place, which we hope will encourage the reporting of child abuse if the evidence of such is seen in schools.
House Bill 218 extends the time period students are eligible to receive the HOPE scholarship to 10 years from a student’s graduation from high school. Additionally, it allows for an exception for students who serve in the military during the 10 year time period.
Because not every law can be applied overnight, the legislature often allows a sort of phase-in approach for some new policies. A few bills that will become effective on July 1, but will be implemented over time are Senate Bills 48 and 108. Senate Bill 48 is a piece of legislation that will require testing for dyslexia in kindergarten and Senate Bill 108 will phase in computer science courses in public schools around our state. We can expect to see the effects of these bills in the coming years.
Finance Related Legislation:
Senate Bill 138 will allow disabled first responders to receive a free motor vehicle license plate and revalidation decals and will allow them to be exempt from TAVT transfer fees on a limited basis.
Margie’s Law, also known as House Bill 62, will take effect on July 1st and will require doctors to notify you if a mammogram shows that you have dense breast tissue, which can obscure test results and often puts you at an increased risk for breast cancer.
Senate Bill 18 will allow physicians to provide health care to a patient through a direct primary care agreement without being subject to insurance regulations. A direct primary care agreement allows a patient to directly contract with a doctor without insurance. For example, you might pay a doctor a set amount for unlimited visits a month. I believe this will serve as an alternative to insurance for some and offer more choices when it comes to rural health care.
If you are interested in looking up any other bills to see their status, or when they will become effective, you can do it by going to www.senate.ga.gov and typing in the bill number in the top left-hand corner. Once there, it will take you to the bill’s page. Under “status history,” you will see what the latest action is on the bill. If it’s been signed, it will also give you an effective date. Senate Bill 25, the first bill to be passed and signed this past session, is a good example: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20192020/SB/25
As always, it is a pleasure to serve you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you in the off session, and I look forward to representing you again during the 2020 legislative session.