The 2021 legislative session ended with a bang on Sine Die as lawmakers in the House worked past midnight on March 31st to pass legislation. A round-up of a few of the good, bad and not-going-anywhere bills follows below. Georgia remained in the news as business leaders spoke out against the omnibus voter suppression law, SB 202, including leaders at Delta and Coca-Cola. Republicans in the legislature were quick to retaliate with a bill taking away the jet fuel tax exemption (Delta folks can rest easy – that one didn’t pass both chambers) and by demanding Coke products be removed from their offices (if you find any Diet Cokes, please send them my way). Most notably, Major League Baseball made a bold decision to move the All-Star Game, scheduled to take place at Truist Park this summer, to Colorado in protest of the new voting law. The move reminded me of a tale about the Milwaukee Braves moving to Atlanta in the 1960s; one of the conditions of the MLB approving the move was that Atlanta needed to desegregate Atlanta Stadium (it had seats assigned by race at the time). Atlanta acquiesced, and we became the home of America’s team. Sometimes, we need popular cultural institutions to take a stand to lead the way towards progressive policy.
One other bombshell that dropped around midnight on Sine Die was the filing of a bill to create the City of Buckhead – essentially, a move to annex the community of Buckhead out of the City of Atlanta and then incorporate it as a new city. The bill was sponsored by Forsyth County representative Todd Jones without the input of any of the legislators who represent Buckhead. I have concerns about the trajectory of this bill and its potential impact on our neighborhood and the City of Atlanta. We’ll be posting updates, meetings and town halls throughout the year as this issue progresses, so be sure to follow me on social media for updates.
2021 Legislation Highlights
The Good! These are bills that passed both chambers, and will become law unless vetoed by the Governor.
HB 479 amends the citizen’s arrest law.
HB 163 automatically enrolls kids in Medicaid if they are already enrolled in SNAP.
HB 146 grants three week parental leave for state employees.
SB 42, the “Dexter Mosely Act,” allows home study students to participate in extracurricular and interscholastic activities within the student’s resident public school system if they take one course on campus.
SB 85, the “Max Gruver Act,” expands how schools and state law address hazing among Georgia students.
HB 593 provides a modest tax cut for working families.
HB 80, the amended fiscal year budget, increases funding for public health and education.
HB 32 provides an income tax credit for teachers who teach in certain rural or low-performing schools.
HB 128 prohibits providers from discriminating against potential organ transplant recipients due to physical or mental disabilities.
SB 46 allows certain personnel to administer vaccines during public health emergencies.
SB 164 modernizes HIV-related laws.
HB 255 creates a rape kit tracking system.
HB 114 increases the state adoption tax credit.
SB 75 allows victims of stalkers to terminate leases without penalty.
HB 534 expands penalties for organizers of street racing.
SB 236 allows restaurants to sell cocktails to go.
SB 105 releases offenders from probation after three years.
HB 732 removes the sunset for homestead exemption for City of Atlanta.
HB 757 amends the Atlanta Urban Enterprise Act.
And of course, a fair amount of bills passed that were not so good.
SB 202 is a sweeping elections overhaul that will make it harder for citizens to vote, and allow state takeovers of local elections.
HB 286 prohibits local governments from decreasing their annual budget by more than five percent. This is an attack on local control, and an obvious response to the “defund the police” movement.
SB 100 puts Georgia on permanent daylight savings time, per Congressional approval.
SB 47 expands the special needs scholarship to include 504 plans. These vouchers often are not distributed equitably to all socioeconomic classes, and does not truly level the playing field.
HB 112 extends immunity from liability claims for businesses due to COVID. This bill does not protect our essential workers, who deserve the right to be kept safe in their workplace.
HB 94 makes a porch piracy a felony, regardless of the value of the item.
But sometimes our success is measured in what bills we are able to keep from passing! The following bills did NOT pass both chambers, so they cannot be signed into law this year. Phew!
HB 218 allowed for more reciprocity for gun licensing between states.
HB 290 provided the right for patient representatives to visit patients in nursing homes. This removed the ability of hospitals and nursing homes to implement policies in the best interests of their patients, and had unintended consequences – for example, no ability to limit the visitors of sex trafficking and assault survivors.
SB 115 created curriculum for driving schools on how to interact with the police if stopped.
HB 605 allowed people to place cameras in nursing homes, but took away the residents’ rights to use the camera footage in a lawsuit or to fine the facility for abuse or neglect.
HB 289 enacted harsher penalties for crimes committed during protests.
EVERY GEORGIAN 16 AND UP IS NOW ELIGIBLE FOR A COVID-19 VACCINE
The faster you get vaccinated, the faster we get to herd immunity and things go back to normal!
There are multiple ways to get your vaccine – they are consolidated on the Georgia.gov COVID Vaccine site.
Or call the Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line:
VaccineSpotter finds pharmacy vaccination appointments for you based on your location.
Problems scheduling a vaccine? Email my Chief of Staff at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll try to help.
If you haven’t already, please browse my website, betsyforgeorgia.com.
As your Representative, your concerns are important to me. Please contact me at email@example.com or 404-656-0116 with questions, concerns, or solutions you may have regarding legislation or other happenings in District 54.
To stay updated, follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and follow the Georgia House of Representatives @GAHouseHub on Twitter. Additionally, in-depth information regarding current bills, Georgia’s annual and supplemental budgets, committee meetings, and livestreams from the General Assembly can be accessed via www.legis.ga.gov.
I encourage you and your family to visit our State Capitol and my office, where all constituents are welcome. I look forward to connecting with you!
My office is located at:
18 Capitol Square, SW
409-B, Coverdell Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.
Representative Betsy Holland
GA House District 54