Greetings from under the Gold Dome. Although the legislative session concluded April 1, we continued our work with the Governor’s office in hopes of getting our bills signed into law. Per Georgia law, Governor Kemp is given 40 days after the session adjourns to either sign or veto proposed legislation.

If no signature or veto was taken by this year’s May 11 deadline, the legislation automatically becomes law, effective July 1. This year, we acted on a number of important measures such as education, healthcare and public safety. Below you will find a highlight of major bills passed during our 40 days under the Gold Dome!

HEALTHCARE

•HB 567 authorizes the Department of Public Health (DPH) to create a newborn screening system for the prevention of serious illness, severe physical or developmental disability, and death caused by inherited metabolic and genetic disorders.

•SB 46 allows emergency medical technicians and cardiac technicians to administer vaccines during a declared public health emergency upon the order of a duly licensed physician.

•HB 307 authorizes health care providers to provide telehealth services from home and patients to receive telehealth services from their home, workplace, or school.

•HB 146 allows eligible employees of state government and local boards of education to be eligible for a maximum of 120 hours of paid parental leave after six continuous months of employment.

•HB 128 creates Gracie's Law to establish provisions to prevent then discrimination of individuals with disabilities from receiving an anatomical gift or organ transplant. Additionally, this bill revises parental requirements for consent related to cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

•HB 591 authorizes licensed marriage and family therapists to admit individuals for involuntary evaluation of mental or substance use disorders.

•SB 215 allows for nursing homes to use certified medication aides to administer physician-ordered oral, ophthalmic, topical, otic, nasal, vaginal, and rectal medications; insulin, epinephrine, and B12; medications via an inhaler; blood glucose testing; disposable enema; and self-administration medications. Nursing homes using certified nursing aides must also have a licensed pharmacist perform quarterly reviews of each nursing home resident's drug regimen. The bill also specifies that certified medication aides cannot administer any Schedule II narcotics.

EDUCATION

•HB 32 creates an income tax credit for a teacher recruitment and retention program managed by the State Board of Education. Eligible teachers include those with a bachelor's degree in education from a post secondary institution in Georgia that has a teacher certification program certified by the PSC. Additionally, a teacher must accept their first school-year contract in the 2021-2022 school year in a high-need subject area in a rural school or a school that performed in the lowest five percent of schools in this state and must hold a valid five-year induction or professional certificate from the PSC.

•SB 88 allows the Georgia teacher of the year to serve as advisor ex-officio to the State Board of Education. Under the provisions of this bill, local school systems are required to support a pathway for non-traditional teacher certification programs for armed forces veterans to become certified teachers. This legislation further revises the tiered evaluation system and requires the Professional Standards Commission to create innovative programs to promote teacher education programs at historically black colleges and universities.

•SB 42 allows home study students to participate in extracurricular and interscholastic activities within the student's resident public school system. SB 42 describes the eligibility requirements for participation, notably, that students must register for a course within their resident school 30 days before the beginning of the semester the activity will take place.

•HB 606 will allow the inclusion the Georgia Independent School Association in the list of accepted accrediting agencies for the purposes of establishing HOPE eligibility for private high schools.

•SB 66 creates a nonprofit corporation in order to receive private donations to fund grants to public schools. Grants given will be awarded for the implantation of academic and organizational innovations to improve student achievement. This legislation also authorizes an income tax credit for education donations.

•SB 153 directs the General Assembly to study alternative education models and funding focused on dropout prevention, high school credit recovery, and education services of adult and incarcerated students during 2021 and 2022 and make recommendations back to the General Assembly upon conclusion.

•SB 246 adds 'The Learning Pod Protection Act,' which exempts learning pods from being regulated by state, local, or local school systems when the student's primary educational program is offered through remote virtual learning.

REGULATION AND TAX REFORM

•HB 114 increases the current income tax credit for adopting foster children from $2,000 to $6,000 per foster child for the first five years of adoption and returning to $2,000 per year until the child reaches the age of 18. Unused credits are non-refundable and cannot be carried forward to a future year's tax liability.

•HB 265 provides an increase in the deductibility of medical expenses, charitable contributions, and business meals as well as clarification of the tax treatment of loan forgiveness from the 'Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.'

•HB 593 increases the standard deduction beginning in tax year 2022 for taxpayers who file single and head of household from $4,600 to $5,400; taxpayers who are married and file a joint return from $6,000 to $7,100; and taxpayers who are married and file individual returns from $3,000 to $3,550.

•SB 6 includes the 'Tax Credit Return on Investment Act of 2021', the 'Georgia Economic Renewal Act of 2021', and the 'Georgia Economic Recovery Act of 2021.

•Establishes an additional tax credit for jobs created by a medical equipment and supplies manufacturer or a pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturer.

•Repeals the 4,500 job cap for the job tax credit

•Additional tax credit to attract high-impact aerospace defense projects to our state.

PUBLIC SAFETY

•HB 129 raises the minimum salary for sheriffs serving in a county with a population of 39,000 to 49,999. The new minimum is set at $83,750.51.

•HB 286 prohibits counties and municipalities from reducing their police force budgetary appropriations by more than five percent unless specified conditions exist. The bill requires state and local governments to provide, when requested, payroll deductions to public safety employees to purchase insurance.

•HB 534 establishes a crime and penalty for promoting, organizing, or participating in illegal drag racing or laying drags, as well as reckless stunt driving. The violator of this law is guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature and faces suspension of his or her driver's license and possible imprisonment. Penalties graduate based on the number of convictions a person receives.

•SB 60 requires indemnification payments to be made to a public safety officer who suffers a heart attack, stroke, or vascular rupture while the officer was: performing work related activity; on duty after performing work-related activity; or no more than 24 hours after performing work-related activity.

MILITARY & VETERANS AFFAIRS

•HB 34 enters Georgia into the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact. The compact allows for practitioners, including active-duty military personnel and their spouses, who are licensed in a member state to more easily practice in the other member states, so long as the licensee remains active and in good standing, among other requirements.

•HB 105 authorizes the Department of Defense to provide compensation to guardsman who volunteer for active duty.

•HB 106 adds the Georgia State Defense Force to the indemnification fund.

•HB 268 enters Georgia into the Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact, pending passage of required legislation in 10 total U.S. states. The compact allows practitioners, including active-duty military personnel and their spouses, who are licensed in a member state to more easily practice in the other member states, so long as the licensee remains active and in good standing, among other requirements.

•HB 395 enters Georgia into the Professional Counselors Licensure Compact, pending passage of required legislation in 10 total U.S. states. The compact allows for practitioners, including active-duty military personnel and their spouses, who are licensed in a member state to practice in the other member states more easily, so long as the licensee remains active and in good standing, among other requirements.

We have received many questions regarding our election integrity law, which was recently passed and signed into law. Because of the length of the legislation and given that our elections process deserves far more coverage than a paragraph, we will cover the legislation in full during our next update.

In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about the bills listed above, or other legislation passed this session please visit, www.legis.ga.gov and click on the legislation tab. Although session is adjourned for the remainder of the year, our schedules will remain hectic with study committees, constituent issues, legislative panels and district events. In the coming months, you will continue to receive monthly updates on major issues affecting Georgia citizens. As always, thank you for allowing us the opportunity to serve our community.

Chris Erwin represents District 28 in the Georgia House of Representatives.

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