Broadband bill kicked off session

Penny Houston, Georgia House of RepresentativeNashville-District 170

A broadband bill kicked off the legislative session.

• HB 23 allows EMCs to provide broadband services, while prohibiting the cross-subsidization of the EMCs broadband services and its natural gas or electricity services.

• It also prohibits EMCs disconnecting a user’s gas or electric service for their failure to pay for the broadband service, and vice versa.

• This bill provides EMCs a level playing field when applying for USDA grants for Rural Broadband.

HB23 passed the house with a 169-0 vote.

The bill will now head to the Senate.

HB 31- Fiscal year 2020 Budget

Visit: to be directed to the highlights of the 2020 state budget.

This budget highlights document includes the information on the teacher and teacher support staff pay raise, and so much more.

SB 25 - School Bus Bill

• This bill repeals conflicting laws currently in place, for stopping at school bus signals and now provides more safety for school bus riders.

• Areas of roadways that are separated by greenery are not required to stop for school buses. However, if only a turning lane separates the roads then all traffic is now required to stop.

• Cameras will also be installed on all school buses and will allow officials to access the footage if any motor vehicle has broken the law.

Gov. Brian Kemp signed this bill into law and it became the first law to be signed into place by the governor.

HB 63 - Step Therapy Protocols

HB 63 creates a limited exception to health benefits plans’ step therapy protocol when justification and supporting clinical documentation show the following:

• The required prescription drug is contradicted or will cause an adverse reaction of physical or mental harm;

• The required prescription drug is expected to be ineffective based on the known clinical condition of the patient and the known characteristics of the prescription drug regimen;

• The patient has tried the required prescription drug while under his or her current or previous health insurance of health benefit plan and such prescription drug was discontinued due to the lack of efficacy, diminished effect, or an adverse event; or

• The patient’s condition is stable on a prescription drug previously selected by his or her practitioner for the medical condition under consideration whether on his or her current or previous health benefit plan.

HB 63 passed the House with a unanimous vote.

HB 166 - Genetic Counselors Act

HB 166 establishes the “Genetic Counselors Act.”

• It requires any individual engaged in the practice of genetic counseling in this state to be licensed by the Georgia Composite Medical Board.

• Genetic counseling is a process to evaluate and understand an individual’s risk of inherited medical conditions.

• This licensing is recommended by the Georgia Occupational Regulation Review Council.

HB 166 passed the House with a 148-13 vote.

HB 213 - Georgia Hemp Farming Act; enact

• HB 213 allows for the cultivation and processing of hemp and hemp products in Georgia.

• The bill further provides for colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia to conduct research on hemp, including the development of new hemp varieties, seed development and consumer uses.

• House Bill 213 requires hemp growers to apply annually for a license and pay a license fee of $1,000. Any grower must be a qualified agriculture producer and provide the Department of Agriculture with the following upon application for a license: a legal description and global positioning coordinates to locate fields and greenhouses used for cultivation of hemp; a written agreement with a permitted producer with which the grower intends to enter into a partnership; written consent allowing the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and other affected law enforcement to enter premises where hemp is being cultivated, harvested or handled to conduct inspections; and a criminal background check.

HB 213 passed the House 163-3 and will now be sent to the Senate chambers.

HB 316 - Elections; definitions; provide for uniform equipment and ballot marking devices 

• HB 316 introduces a ballot-marking device with a paper ballot that can be audited.

• This bill also extends the notice period required for the closing or moving of an existing voting precinct,implements extensive corrective measures for absentee ballots. It also extends the amount of time a voter can be inactive prior to being removed from Georgia voter rolls.

• House Republicans are committed to ensuring safe and fair elections are conducted in Georgia, and that’s exactly what HB 316 does.

• Changing the voting system to ballot-marking devices provides for increased security with a two-step selections process, as well as guaranteeing transparency through the creation of a paper trail.

• These voting machines would be in place by the 2020 presidential election.

HB 316 passed the House with a 101-72 vote.

Penny Houston, R-Nashville, represents District 170 in state House of Representatives.

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