Public Policy for the People: 26 March 2018
Call to Action: Please call your State Representative and tell them why HR 1257 is needed to help study the problem of why Georgians with disabilities cannot find and retain qualified caregivers.
Keep Up-To-Date: IMPORTANT UPDATE
- Catch our weekly phone call, every Monday during session at 9:30 am. Dial in at 1-888-355-1249, Code: 232357
- Join our Advocacy Network
- NOTE: With the close of the 2018 Legislative Session fast approaching, we will stop publishing the legislative edition of Public Policy for the People on a bi-monthly basis, instead returning to our regular quarterly schedule. Keep an eye out for the Spring edition of Making A Difference Magazine for our Legislative Wrap Up article.
Be in the Know: Rumblings Under the Gold Dome
GCDD is saddened by the passing of former Georgia Governor Zell Miller. He will always be remembered for his belief in the power of education, most evident through his creation of the HOPE Scholarship Program. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family in this trying time.
As of right now, the legislative session is scheduled to end this Thursday. Indeed, Day 39 is tomorrow, March 27th and Day 40 is March 29th.
A few updates:
SB 406, Georgia's Long-term Care Background Check Program, an initiative of the Georgia Council on Aging, has been passed by the Senate and the House. Due to a small change in the House, the bill must return to the Senate for a final vote. his is a great first step and GCDD looks forward to working with DCH to expand the program to include more individuals that are served in home and community based services.
HB 831, Georgia's Employment First Act, has been passed by the House and Senate. It now sits on the Governor's desk awaiting his signature. Remember, this bill creates an Employment First Council in Georgia to advise the Governor and General Assembly on future steps to move Georgia closer to an employment first state.
HB 803, sponsored by Representative Willard, passed out of committee last week. This bill defines the human trafficking of an adult with a disability or the elderly as a felony. It is currently waiting in the Rules Committee, where it must first be voted out before it can reach the Senate for a floor vote.
"The Disabled Adults and Elder Person's Protection Act," sponsored by Representative Sharon Cooper has had an interesting path this legislative session. As a quick reminder, this bill would create multi agency teams established in each judicial circuit to investigate adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The bill now has two versions, SB 202 and HB 635. Both now await a vote in the Senate next week. The reason there are two versions of the bill is because HB 635 was the original bill, and SB 202 was a bill that was gutted and all text replaced by "The Disabled Adults and Elder Person's Protection Act."
HR 1257, sponsored by Representative Petrea, would create the House Study Committee on the Workforce Shortage and Crisis in Home and Community Based Settings. It is currently waiting in the Rules Committee where it must first be voted out, before it can be scheduled for a vote in the House. If you have not already done so, please call your State Representative and explain to them why HR 1257 is needed to help study the problem of why Georgians with disabilities cannot find and retain qualified caregivers.
SB 118, sponsored by Senator Unterman would raise the age limit to 20 for coverage of autism services under private insurance policies has passed the House. Due to a substitute in the House, it will need to return to the Senate for a vote before Sine Die.
HB 891, carried by Representative Gilliard, received a hearing last week in the House Judiciary - Civil - Kelley Subcommittee. Despite not making Crossover Day, advocates had the opportunity to educate the committee on the need for such a bill to ensure parents who are visually impaired or blind are not discriminated against in matters of child custody, guardianship, placement, or adoption. We look forward to seeing this bill re-introduced next year.
FY 19 Budget: The Senate has passed their own version of the Fiscal Year 19 Budget.
A few highlights from the Senate Version that differed from the House version of the FY 19 Budget:
- The Albany Advocacy Resource Center received an increase of $220,000
- The Matthew Reardon Center for Autism received an increase of $200,000
- The Statewide Independent Living Council received an increase of $100,000 for home access modifications
- A four percent increase in reimbursement rates for autism services statewide - $681,493
- Increase in funds for a state hub geographically located to provide outreach and services to support independent living for citizens with disabilities in southwest Georgia - $100,000 (The House had put in $200,000, the Senate reduced to $100,000)
- Funds for Friends of Disabled Adults and Children Equipment received an increase of $20,000
- Funds to increase the occupational, speech, and physical therapy rates in the Babies Can't Wait program - $1,103,716 (House previously had included an increase of $551,858)
- Transfer funds from Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency: Vocational Rehabilitation Program to the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities to provide ongoing support and scholarships for the Inclusive Post-Secondary Education Program - $500,000
The House and Senate have now entered Conference Committee to come to some agreement over their differences. With Sine Die this Thursday, we should not have to wait long for the final version of the FY 19 Budget.
SINE DIE: The last day of the Georgia General Assembly's legislative session.
Around Town with UNLOCK!
We have had a great time learning together about the legislative process through the UNLOCK! articles. Throughout the legislative session, we looked up your Legislators on openstates.org then discussed how to contact them. We learned how to share our story while meeting with those legislators then looked at how a bill becomes a law. Now, as we leave the state legislative session, we want to look ahead to next year. It is very important that everyone is registered to vote and gets involved with Rev Up Georgia.
To register to vote, click here.
To find out who is running in your district, click here.
To get involved with Rev Up, click here:
Some Bills to Watch:
HB 668: (Price) Allows guardianship proceedings to begin when someone is 17 years old. (Senate Rules 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 853: (Dempsey) Quality Basic Education Act; children placed in psychiatric residential treatment facilities may not be charged tuition (Senate Education & Youth 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)