Public Policy for the People: 12 March 2018


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Volume 4, Issue 6 2018 Legislative Session March 12, 2018

Call to Action: Please call your State Senator and tell them why HB 831 is good for Georgians with developmental disabilities. Tell them we want a clean bill with no changes or amendments.

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Looking Ahead

2018 GCDD Advocacy Days
Mar 15: Medicaid

Click here to register online!

Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome

Only 7 legislative days to go. With Sine Die (end date) falling on March 29, we really are in the homestretch.

As happens every year, Crossover Day serves as a filter, keeping out many bills and only letting a few through. Of course, some times bills that do not make Crossover Day end up as amendments to other bills that did, but by and large, if a bill does not make Crossover Day, then it is dead.

While not a complete listing of all bills that made Crossover Day, we do want to highlight a few below:

HB 831, Georgia's Employment First Act, passed the House of Representatives in the afternoon of Crossover Day. It was then assigned to the Economic Development and Tourism Committee in the Senate. A hearing was held Tuesday, March 6th and was voted out of committee at that time. We hope the bill will come up for a floor vote later this week. If you have not done so already, please call your State Senator and tell them that HB 831 is good for Georgians with developmental disabilities and will enable the system to better understand how to support employment for all.

SB 406, Georgia's Long-term Care Background Check Program, an initiative of the Georgia Council on Aging, made it through Crossover Day and was then assigned to the House Human Relations & Aging Committee. A hearing was held on March 8th and was voted out of committee at that time. It now waits in the Rules Committee where it must be voted out before it can go up for a vote in the House of Representatives. If you have not already called your State Representative and told them why background checks are important for your ability to rely on long-term care workers, please do so. GCDD is excited about this bill because it is a step in the right direction of GCDD's focus on creating and Elder & Disabled Abuser Registry in Georgia.

Shifting now to the budget, the House and Senate have agreed upon an Amended Fiscal Year 18 Budget. Governor Nathan Deal signed the budget into law this past Friday. A few highlights from the AFY18 budget:

  • $220,000 for the Albany Advocacy Resource Center (DBHDD)
  • Approximately $3.52 million increase in funds, and the re-utilization of $300,072 in existing funds for services and supports for youth with autism (DBHDD, DCH, DPH)
  • $2.7 million for additional Behavioral Health Crisis facility beds (DBHDD)
  • $1 million for the electronic visit verification system for home and community-based services (DCH)
  • $750,000 increase to fund the analysis of the Medicaid delivery system for the purposes of identifying efficiencies and service delivery improvement opportunities (DCH)
  • $96,196 increase for the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund (DPH)

The House of Representatives passed their version of the Fiscal Year 19 Budget. It is now on to the Senate. A few budget highlights:

  • $3.1 million to fund 125 NOW/COMP Waivers (DBHDD).
  • $6 million annualized for 250 NOW/COMP waivers added in the FY 18 Budget (DBHDD).
  • $3 million to fund one new Behavioral Health Crisis Center (DBHDD).
  • $5.7 million increase in mental health services in the community to comply with the DOJ Settlement Agreement (DBHDD).
  • $7.44 million in new funding, as well as the utilization of $316,819 in existing funding, for services for youth with autism (DBHDD, DPH, DCH).
  • $894,519 to provide funds for an electronic visit verification system for home and community-based services (DCH).
    Utilize $962,022 in existing funds to support increased background checks for owners and employees of long-term care facilities (DCH).
  • $226,725 to provide funds to increase the reimbursement rates for Adult Day Health Centers (DCH).
  • $735,961 increase in Preschool Disabilities Services, “funds for enrollment growth and training and experience” (DOE).
  • $200,000 in funding for a state hub geographically located to provide outreach and services to support independent living for citizens with disabilities in southwest Georgia (GVRA).
  • $14,000 to provide funding for an agricultural careers summer camp for youth with disabilities (GCDD).
  • $1.4 million increase in funds to make the Suicide Prevention Hotline & mobile app 24/7 (DBHDD).
  • $551,858 increase in funds for the OT and PT rates in the Babies Can't Wait Program (DPH).

Upcoming Meetings:

HR 1257, sponsored by Representative Petrea, is currently scheduled for a hearing in the House Special Rules Committee this Tuesday, March 13 at 9:00 AM in Room 506 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, located at 18 Capitol Square SW, Atlanta, GA 30334. This bill would create the House Study Committee on the Workforce Shortage and Crisis in Home and Community Based Settings. Be sure to double check the time or room has not changed here. If you are planning to come down, please email Hanna at to receive any updates.

Need a quick refresher on GCDD's Legislative Priorities? Click here.

Learn the Lingo
Conference Committee:
When the House and the Senate pass different versions of the same bill, they come together to work out their differences.

Code: All of Georgia's government statutes gathered in one place.

Around Town with UNLOCK!

Welcome back policy advocates! We hope you have continued to enjoy the tips shared in UNLOCK! articles. You may have noticed we are building on our advocacy strategies so we can better understand the legislative process in Georgia. So far we have shared so you can look up your state legislators, we gave tips on how to contact and share your story with your legislator, and how to meet with your legislator. Today we want to try and simplify how a bill becomes a law. For a more detailed approach, click here.

Did you know you can work with your legislator to introduce a bill? Yep! That is exactly how HB343, to replace the “R” word, started. An advocate, like you and me, went to their House Representative with information on what other states had done to get that offensive word out of state policy. The advocate's Representative helped write the bill and get support from other representatives. Then it was:

  1. Introduced in the House
  2. Approved in a House Committee
  3. Approved in the House Rules Committee
  4. Passed a floor vote in the House

Then followed the same path in the Senate:

  1. It was read on the Senate floor
  2. Approved in a Senate Committee
  3. Approved in the Senate Rules Committee
  4. Passed a floor vote in the Senate

Ultimately, the bill became a law on May 8th, 2017 when it was signed by the Governor. All this because an advocate – just like you and me – wanted to make a real change in Georgia.

The UNLOCK! Coalition is here to help with your policy advocacy. Join us in supporting policy that will unlock communities across Georgia for people with disabilities.

Join the UNLOCK Coalition Here

Some Bills to Watch:

HB 635: (Cooper) The Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act - creates an at-risk adult protective investigative/coordination team in each judicial circuit in Georgia to coordinate investigations of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of people with disabilities or the elderly. (Senate Health & Human Services Committee)

HB 668: (Price) Allows guardianship proceedings to begin when someone is 17 years old. (Senate Rules Committee)

HB 740: (Nix) Requires local school systems to conduct certain screenings before a student, in pre-K through third grade, can be expelled or suspended for more than five days. If a student has an IEP or Section 504 plan, the school will hold an IEP or Section 504 meting to review the supports currently being provided as part of their IEP or Section 504 Plan. (Senate Education & Youth Committee)

HB 759: (Turner) Relaxes regulations for the GA Special Needs Scholarship, to allow the children of active duty military service members stationed in GA within the previous year, or children that have previously qualified, be exempt from the requirement to have attended a public school in Georgia the prior year. (Senate Education & Youth Committee)

HB 803: (Willard) Prohibits the trafficking of an adult with a disability. (Senate Health & Human Services Committee)

HB 844: (Houston) Revises provisions of the GA Commission on Hearing Impaired and Deaf Persons, specifically around membership of commission, as well as creates a multi-agency task force to provide recommendations for improvements to the GA General Assembly and the Governor. (Senate Health & Human Services Committee)

HB 853: (Dempsey) Quality Basic Education Act; children placed in psychiatric residential treatment facilities may not be charged tuition (Senate Education & Youth Committee)

SB 118: (Unterman) Raises the age limit to age 12 for coverage of autism services under private insurance policies. (House Insurance Committee)

SB 357: (Burke) Creates the Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the State of Georgia, a recommendation of the Lt. Governor Cagle's Health Care Reform Task Force. (House Health & Human Services Committee)

SR 467: (Unterman) Creates a Senate Study Committee on Service Animals for Physically or Mentally Impaired Persons (Senate Rules)

SR 593: (Seay) A RESOLUTION urging the United States Congress to establish a policy whereby public facilities shall be required to provide adult changing stations. (Senate Rules)

SR 506: (Dugan) A RESOLUTION creating the Senate Study Committee on the Excessive and Duplicative Regulatory Oversight of Community Based Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Services. (Senate Rules)

Tags: GCDD, Advocacy, public policy