Public Policy for the People: 13 March 2017

public policy for the people enews

Volume 3, Issue 6   •   2017 Legislative Session   •   13 March 2017

Call your Senator about HB343 & your Representative about SB201.

The Atlanta Housing Authority Housing Choice Voucher Program Waiting List Opening!

Waiting List Pre-Application OPENS from Wednesday, March 15, 2017, at 9:00 a.m. EST
until Tuesday, March 21, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. EST       
Learn more here

Ponders by Phillip:

Phillip ModesittHow to stay involved after session:

The Georgia General Assembly only meets January through March; however, you are still able to stay involved in the political process all year long. People can stay involved in the political process by voicing their opinions on issues that are important to them. Even when the Georgia General Assembly is not in session, people can stay involved by writing the members letters or even meeting with your legislator during the year. You can find out who your legislator is by going to People can also stay involved by staying informed on current events and any new Federal bills that are being passed so that they can have up to date information. People can also attend conferences that are based around issues that are important to them. For example, the IDEA partnership is a conference that you can attend that focuses on improving outcomes for students with disabilities. Lastly, you can prepare to meet with the members again next year. People who have disabilities can meet with people who have other disabilities to prepare for the Georgia General Assembly next year.

– Phillip James Modesitt

Want to attend a conference but need a bit of help. Check out GCDD's Learning Opportunities Support Fund which provides scholarship assistance to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to attend advocacy, learning events, and conferences.

Be in the Know: Only 7 legislative days to go

Today is Day 32 in the Georgia General Assembly. After today there are only 7 legislative days left until the gavel falls on Sinie Die. We are in the last mile of the marathon and everyone is working at a full out sprint.

This morning the Senate Appropriations Committee met to provide their recommendations for the Big Budget for Fiscal year 2018. To start with the good news, the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education increase in funding was maintained as recommended by the House. At the request of GCDD, the Senate made a slight change to allow GCDD to maintain $75,000 of the funding GCDD receives "to maintain the council's active participation in the IPSE partnership." Previously, the House had only left $25,000 to accomplish this goal. This brings the total allocation to GVRA for IPSE to $450,000, as opposed to the House's recommendation of $500,000. With the Federal match, GVRA will have up to $2.25 million to support IPSE in Georgia. Additionally, the specific language around the number of scholarships to be provided was removed.

The bad news is that there were no new DD waivers added besides that which is required by the Department of Justice Extension Agreement. While we are disappointed, we are not discouraged and will continue fighting for a day in Georgia where all Georgians with disabilities receive the services they need to live full and integrated lives in the community. To see the relevant budget pages for IPSE and DD waivers, click here. (This link is no longer active.) 

As for the Family Care Act, SB 201, things are alive and well. The bill is currently working its way through the House of Representatives. We hope to see SB 201 on the floor for a vote in the coming weeks. This means we need you to call your Representative, and ask a friend to do the same, and ask them to vote YES on SB201, The Family Care Act. If you do see Senator Butch Miller around, be sure to thank him for all his hard work and support in pushing SB 201 through the legislative process.

We thank Representative Scott Hilton for his hard work on HB343 which resulted in the House unanimously voting to replace the offensive MR word with intellectual disability in Georgia State Code.  HB 343 is currently scheduled for a Hearing Only this Tuesday at 4:00 pm in the Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee A. Remember, to make it to the floor for a vote, a bill must first be voted favorably out of committee. Be sure to call your Senator and ask them to vote YES on HB 343, replacing the offensive MR word with intellectual disability.

Lastly, SB 185 Changing the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disability, did not make Crossover Day. While the bill is dead until next year, we are incredibly optimistic about SB 185's prospects next year. We thank Senator Elena Parent for all her hard work on this legislation. Despite not making Crossover Day, SB 185 did have a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, Sub Committee B. While no vote was taken, this was an excellent opportunity for advocates to provide testimony on the issue and for the Senators present to ask questions and get more information on the issue. We have made incredible progress on this issue this year intend to spend the off-season preparing for the 2018 session!

GCDD held two Advocacy Day's these past two weeks. It is thanks to advocates such as yourself that HB 343 and SB 201 are doing so well. Not only did our efforts give these two bills the push they needed, we also educated lawmakers on the need for transportation improvements, PeachWork, and Changing the Standard to Prove Intellectual Disabilities. All in all, they were very successful. If you attended an advocacy day and have some feedback on what went well and what didn't go so well, please take a moment to take our short anonymous survey at

On the Federal Level, Congress is currently debating the American Health Care Act. If this were to pass, it would have serious ramifications for Georgians with disabilities. We are hosting a webinar, this Wednesday, March 15 from 1:30 to 2:30pm, to help advocates learn more about the changes currently being discussed. You do not need to pre-register, just go to on Wednesday. To hear the audio, call in at 1-888-355-1249, Code# 232357

The newly formed GA Health Care Reform Task Force met for the first time this past Friday. They met to discuss what the changes on the federal level could mean for Georgia, as well as what Georgia can do now to better serve its many citizens. GCDD has joined a coalition spearheaded by Georgians for a Healthy Future to mobilize around this issue and ensure that all Georgians benefit from any proposed changes. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.

Keep Up to Date

  • Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357.
  • Join our Advocacy Network at
    To join you will need to provide an email address. When you sign up, be sure to select Public Policy Alerts and UNLOCK! alerts so you get the most up to date information. If you signed up last year, be sure to check and make sure your information is up to date. 
  • Read Public Policy for the People. Released every other Monday. - Mar 27

Learn the Lingo

Shall: If you are anything like me, you had no idea until you read this that 'shall' has three definitions: may, will, and must. I had not realized this until I was in a meeting the other day when some lawyers were focusing in on the word 'shall' in a piece of proposed legislation. Now to the uninformed, such as myself, 'shall' has a pretty clear meaning. But as it turns out, the US Supreme Court has ruled that 'shall' means 'may.' This means that when the word 'shall' appears in a bill, it is not a requirement. Jerry shall go to Capitol, which just means Jerry has the option of going to the Capitol, but is not required to do so. Hopefully that makes sense and we can all join in watching out for the sneaky 'shall.'

New Bills to Watch

As always, for a complete list of bills we are tracking, click here.

A few to draw your attention to though.

  • SB 149: Requires School Resource Officers to complete 40 hours of training approved by the GA Peace Officer Standards and Training, to include interactions with students with mental health diagnoses. Passed the Senate, will be heard in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security committee later today.
  • HB 273: would require every local school board to schedule a daily, 30-minute recess for student's kindergarten through 5th grade. Passed House. Assigned to the Senate Education and Youth Committee and is scheduled to be heard today.
  • SB 29: Requires drinking water in childcare learning centers and schools to be tested for lead, and if found, create a remediation plan. Passed Senate, assigned to the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee
  • HB 486: Proxy Caregivers. Passed House. In Senate, has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Quick Tip:  HB = House Bill    SB= Senate Bill

Tags: GCDD, Advocacy, public policy