The General Assembly will enter one of the session's most turbulent weeks next week as it continues to hurtle towards Crossover Day on March 3rd. Crossover day marks the final opportunity for all legislation—except the budget—to advance from one chamber to the next, and will trigger a marathon of activity in the state capitol up to the close of next Friday's legislative session.
Major bills to watch for next week:
- HB 338: School district "turnaround coaches," the governor's second failing school program
- HB 336: Broadband expansion
- SB 79: Casino-style gaming
- HB 118: Fantasy Sports regulation
- SB 81: Opioid prescription reform
- SB 8, HB 71: Surprise medical billing
- HB329: Slashing state income tax to a flat 5.4%
GET SCHOOLED: The governor's attempt to revive Georgia's chronically failing schools by creating a special statewide Chief Turnaround Officer to address problem districts cleared out of committee in the House on Thursday. Under the proposal, the Chief Turnaround Officer would report to the state board of education, directing a network of local "turnaround coaches" to develop a "system of assistance and support" in concert with local boards. The newly created CTO would be empowered to replace the staff of failing schools or cede district control to "successful" districts or nonprofit charter school operators.
GET MOVING: HB 160, a proposal to create a statewide Commission on Transit Governance and Funding to study the need and possible funding mechanisms of "providing a system of mass transportation and mass transportation facilities for any one or more metropolitan areas," has passed out of the House and is winding through the Senate now. The Senate, for its part, passed SB 6, which would create a Regional Transit Council.
GET WORKING: A flurry of economic development activity hit both chambers in the last week. In the Senate, a bill to provide for broadband expansion in rural communities was dropped in the hopper; and the Destination Resort Act, which would clear the way for casino-style gaming in Georgia, has advanced through one hearing and awaits a second.
Meanwhile in the House, a parallel broadband measure cleared committee; compromise legislation to allow to craft brewers and local distillers to sell direct to consumers has moved through the Rules Committee and awaits full floor consideration; and a measure to provide for the regulation and taxation of fantasy sports operations was voted out of the House Ways and Means Committee. That same committee also advanced a proposal to lower the state income tax to a flat 5.4 percent.
GET HEALTHY: Opioid epidemic legislation that would require doctors to check a statewide patient prescription database before prescribing potentially addictive medications awaits consideration by the Senate Rules Committee. It earlier passed the Health and Human Services Committee by a slim one-vote majority.
A pair of companion bills addressing surprise billing have both passed out of committee and sit now in the Senate and House Rules Committees, respectively.
A trio of bills concerning the state's certificate-of-need regime, which requires demonstration of community need before the construction of new medical facilities, all sit in committee and have thus far not moved.