Activity under the Gold Dome has undoubtedly picked up as both chambers took action on numerous bills today.
Senate Passes Higher PSERS Benefits
The Senate passed SB 105 by Sen. Larry Walker III (R-Perry), which seeks to increase the monthly benefit of Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) members by raising the benefit multiplier from $16.50 to $17.00. The bill also sets this amount as the minimum multiplier allowed by law. While permanent or one-time increases in benefits can be funded by legislative appropriations, the monthly PSERS benefit amount could not fall below $17.00 per year of service. This increase would apply to all current and future PSERS retirees.
Sen. Walker speaks to SB 105 on the Senate Floor
PAGE spoke in support of this bill during its committee hearing. SB 105 passed the Senate with a vote of 49-1 and now moves to the House for consideration.
Insurance Committee Signs Off on Bill Limiting Unexpected Hospital Costs for SHBP Members
The House Insurance Committee approved HB 945 from Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville), which aims to prevent members of the State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) and other state insurance plans from paying more if an in-network hospital becomes an out-of-network hospital during the plan year. Under the bill, plan members would not be charged higher co-pays, deductibles, or other fees if a hospital that was in-network during the open-enrollment period became an out-of-network hospital before the end of the plan year. The bill now goes to the Rules Committee.
House Higher Education Approves High-Demand Workforce Bill
HB 982 by Rep. Matthew Gambill (R-Cartersville) tasks the State Workforce Development Board with publishing an annual “High-demand Career List” which would identify careers deemed most critical to Georgia’s current and future workforce needs. State and local agencies, including local school boards, would be required to use this list to inform their use of federal and state funding and ensure relevant educational programs are aligned with the list. HB 982 is also intended to ensure that funds are used effectively. The legislation now moves to House Rules.
Senate Public Safety Approves School Map Legislation
The Senate Public Safety Committee passed SB 406 by Sen. Clint Dixon (R-Gwinnett), which would create standards for a floor plan mapping system in schools across the state. Dixon said the bill is intended to provide more detailed and up-to-date maps for first responders during emergencies using an app-based program and will be integrated into public safety platforms. The cost averages $3,500 per school, and purchasing the system would be optional. A representative from CRG Solutions, one of many vendors that produce the maps, spoke in favor of the bill.
House Governmental Affairs Approves Legislation to Allow School Impact Fees
Together, HR 303 and HB 585, both by Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth), would allow for the levy of school impact fees for new residential development if voters approve the proposed constitutional amendment. It was noted during the meeting that currently only Forsyth County meets the requirements to be considered a “high growth school system” and levy these fees. Other systems could theoretically make use of these fees if they later meet the system requirements. Both pieces of legislation were passed out of the committee and await action by the House Rules Committee.
Rep. Jones presents HB 585 and HR 303 to the committee
Committee Approves Bill Requiring Course on Career Readiness
HB 282 by Rep. Mesha Mainor (R-Atlanta) was approved unanimously by the House Industry & Labor Committee. The bill would require districts to offer a course on career readiness. HB 282 passed the committee during the 2023 session, but it did not successfully pass the House by Crossover Day, so it was recommitted to committee. Mainor said the bill is requested by the Georgia Department of Education. The course is already available for school districts to offer students, but they may opt-in. The bill would require districts to offer the course. A representative from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce spoke in favor of the bill during public testimony. Prior to approving the bill, the committee amended it to update the effective date.
Thursday, Feb. 1 – Legislative Day 14
Senate Retirement Committee, 12 p.m., 310 CLOB
House Education Committee, 1 p.m, 506 CLOB