2/28/2021 - Do I ever not say "It's a busy week"? Well, this one was! All committees and members are pushing to get ready for Crossover Day, which will be on Monday, March 8. It's the day a bill must pass the House and cross over to the Senate for them to review. I have the honor to serve on the Rules Committee that reviews each bill in depth to recommend for a vote on the House floor or not. It takes a lot of time each day, but this group really looks at each bill and evaluates it and its effect on Georgians.
Our communities are very pro-Law Enforcement and appreciate the sacrifices that these folks do in keeping us safe. Legislation to stop local governments from defunding the police, HB 286, passed on the House floor Wednesday 101-69. There was at least an hour debate on the bill, mostly from those wanting the ability to cut police budgets. Slashing police budgets puts our most vulnerable at risk. I'm proud that we have passed this important measure to keep our families safe.
The use of the internet to do business and care for Georgians continues and grows, and we are having to make some changes in the law to allow it. The Georgia Telehealth Act will further the advancements made in Telehealth by including several specific measures to increase access to Telehealth in our state - authorizing a healthcare provider to offer Telehealth services from home and patients to receive Telehealth services from their homes, workplaces, or schools. There were other measures voted on where courts, counselors, professional boards, and business boards can use the internet to conduct their business.
House Bill 442 was also passed by the House this week, and this legislation highlights the prevalence of social media in today's society. Currently, Georgia's child custody laws require one or both parents to be responsible with decision-making authority for a child's education, health, extracurricular activities, and religious upbringing. HB 442 would require parents to also include social media management in their joint parenting plan. As technology and social media have evolved, they have become much more customary in our children's daily lives, and this bill would allow our child custody laws to remain relevant with the ever-changing technology in our world.
House Bill 218 would allow reciprocity for any state's weapons carry license as long as the holder carries according to Georgia's laws, and the bill would limit the Governor's emergency powers in regards to seizing or prohibiting the possession and sale of legal weapons and ammunition. My neighbor Rep. Mandi Ballinger from Canton was the sponsor of this bill, and I was a cosigner.
Our Special Committee on Election Integrity held many additional meetings this week. There was a lot of meeting time dedicated to public comment and listening. At weeks' end the committee passed House Bill 531. That legislation moved to the Rules Committee, and we passed it out for a floor vote on Monday, March 1. This bill includes several provisions - including an ID requirement on absentee ballots, outlining the processing of absentee ballots, and transparency measures for poll watchers.
In a short article you can't cover everything, so if you want more information or to comment on work that's going on or want more detail on what we have passed, please ask. I keep a weekly summary I can send you. My Capitol office number is 404-656-7153, my home 770-893-2039, and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact me anytime.