The House of Representatives got back to work on Monday, March 11 for the tenth week of the 2024 legislative session. Throughout the week, our focus remained on advancing pending Senate bills, with our committees convening frequently to review and refine proposed legislation from our Senate colleagues. With Sine Die approaching on March 28, 2024, there is growing anticipation as we near the conclusion of this session, marking the end of months of dedicated legislative work and decision-making on behalf of the citizens of this state.

My House colleagues and I began the week by taking up a bipartisan effort to enhance public safety and impose stricter penalties for criminal offenses, particularly those associated with the act of “swatting” and gang activity. Senate Bill 421 would increase penalties for repeated unlawful emergency service requests, also known as “swatting.” Swatting refers to an unlawful request for emergency service assistance that an individual knowingly and intentionally makes to a public safety agency when there is no reasonable ground for such a request to be made. Initial violations of swatting instances that occur at homes or places of worship would be classified as felonies, punishable by one to 10 years imprisonment, a minimum $5,000 fine or both. If an individual is convicted of a third or subsequent conviction, he or she would be subject to a sentence of 10 to 15 years imprisonment, a minimum $25,000 fine or both. Those convicted of this crime would be automatically liable for restitution for damages, including property damage and expenses to treat bodily injuries. SB 421 would also outline criminal offenses for when someone discharges a firearm toward another vehicle or an occupied building, without legal justification, after immediately exiting a vehicle; the bill would also outline criminal offenses for when someone discharges a firearm while inside a vehicle or after immediately exiting, without legal justification, and when that person causes damage to a building. Further, the bill would introduce the separate offense of drive-by shooting crimes when a person who is in or close to a motor vehicle that they used to drive to the location discharges a firearm at another person, motor vehicle or occupied dwelling with the intent to injure someone or cause damage to someone’s property; someone convicted of this crime would face a penalty of imprisonment between five and 20 years. Many elected officials in Georgia and across the country have been victims of swatting, and these swatting calls not only impact the victims but also take resources away from first responders and local law enforcement officers when responding to unnecessary and unlawful requests for emergency service assistance. By addressing unlawful emergency service requests and firearm-related crimes, this legislation aims to deter illicit behaviors, support our law enforcement and foster safer communities across Georgia. 

The House continued our commitment to protecting Georgia’s children with the unanimous passage of Senate Bill 335, or the Safeguarding Adopted Children from Sexual Violence Act. This legislation would expand the crime of incest to include those whose familial relationships are created by adoption. Currently, state law defines the crime of incest to be amongst those who are related by blood or by marriage. This bill would update the definition of incest to include those who are related to the perpetrator by adoption. By updating the law, we could ensure that we are protecting every child in our state from such heinous acts, regardless of whether those children are related to their perpetrator by blood or adoption. I am proud of the House for swiftly passing this bill and, consequentially, making it easier to prosecute those who commit this terrible crime against vulnerable children. The House’s passage of this bill represents final passage, sending the legislation to Governor Kemp to be signed into law.  

We also passed legislation this week to aid in our fight against human trafficking in Georgia. Senate Bill 370, championed by First Lady Marty Kemp and the GRACE Commission, would expand education and create increased awareness on human trafficking. In 2013, the governor signed a law requiring certain Georgia businesses to post notices regarding human trafficking and how victims can obtain help. SB 370 would expand this current law to add convenience stores, body art studios, manufacturing facilities and medical offices to the list of establishments that would be required to post notices containing the human trafficking hotline information. Currently, businesses that are required to post these notices include: adult entertainment establishments; bars; primary airports; passenger rail or light rail stations; bus stations; truck stops; emergency rooms within general acute care hospitals; urgent care centers; farm labor contractors and day haulers; privately operated job recruitment centers; safety rest areas located along highways in the state; hotels; establishments that offer massage or bodywork services; and government buildings where public restrooms are for the exclusive use of the government entity. Furthermore, the bill would require each board member of the Georgia Board of Massage Therapy to complete at least 30 minutes of training each year on human trafficking awareness. This legislation would expand our ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking in our state and provide resources and support to human trafficking victims. 

The House gave unanimous, final passage to Senate Bill 483, which would enter Georgia into the updated version of the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children Act (ICPC) to help ensure that children are placed in safe homes in a timely manner. The ICPC has been in existence for several decades, but this bill would allow our state to enter into an agreement under the updated version of the compact, which 16 other states have currently joined. The purpose of this revised ICPC would be to streamline communication from one state to another in regards to the placement of adopted and foster children across state lines. Specifically, the improvements to the ICPC include evaluating the suitability of prospective parent placements to ensure that children are placed in environments that are safe and conducive to their growth and wellbeing; providing the necessary support services to these families to guarantee that parents are equipped to meet the needs of their adopted or foster child; narrowing the applicability of the compact, which would focus the resources and attention where they are most needed; proposing the development of specific time frames for completing the approval process for child placements; establishing a clear rule-making authority; and clarifying state responsibilities and increasing protection for familial relationships. Notably, even if the legislation is signed into law, the compact would not go into effect until 35 states have enacted similar legislation. The process for which children are transferred and placed across state boundaries can be burdensome and lengthy for agencies, states, children and parents. This revised compact would modernize this process and shorten the long waiting periods that these families often face and, ultimately, help place children in their forever homes quicker. 

On a similar note, my colleagues and I took up a bipartisan measure aimed at providing free state identification cards for eligible children between the ages of 14 and 17 who lack an address or are under the custody of the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS). Senate Bill 387 would enable these children to apply for an identification card independently, without requiring a parent, guardian or adult to sign or verify the application. Additionally, SB 387 would prohibit the Department of Driver Services from charging a fee for an identification card for children in DFCS custody or children receiving extended care youth services from DFCS. Providing Georgia’s youth in the DFCS program with the opportunity to obtain essential documentation, like identification cards, is crucial for these children to obtain jobs and integrate into our workforce. This legislation seeks to streamline this process, make it easier for these children to obtain proper identification and improve our state’s foster care system overall. SB 387 received final passage and has been sent to the governor for his signature.

We also gave passage to the following Senate bills this week: 

  • Senate Bill 50, which would require the State Board of Education to create content standards in lifeguard and aquatic safety beginning in the 2026-2027 school year. Local boards of education would adopt curriculum and provide instruction in lifeguarding and aquatic safety. The curriculum would have to provide sufficient training to allow students to successfully complete certification as a lifeguard upon course completion;
  • Senate Bill 171, which would require directors or members of the governing board or body of a development authority to complete ongoing training;
  • Senate Bill 205, which would explicitly state that the State Board of Funeral Service must reinstate the funeral director license of a licensee who has previously allowed a license to lapse for 10 years or less and who has applied for reinstatement; 
  • Senate Bill 232, which would modify the types and dollar amounts of fees charged and collected by probate court judges and clerks. These fees would be charged for filings such as petitions, motions, claims and certificates, as well as for different applications, licenses and certified copies. Conforming language in other sections of the law relating to filing fees, license fees and fireworks applications are contained in the bill;
  • Senate Bill 233, which would create the Georgia Education Savings Authority and the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act. The bill would change program weights in the Quality Basic Education formula and would allow capital outlays funds to be used for pre-kindergarten programs. SB 233 would also cap tuition fees for out of district student transfers, revise grants to low-performing schools and amend the tax credit for qualified education donations. The bill would create the Georgia Education Savings Authority, which would establish and administer student assistance programs. The bill would also create the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act, which would provide $6,500 per student to families for qualified education-related expenses outside of the public school system;  
  • Senate Bill 342, which would allow the Department of Human Services to use records of child abuse or neglect from the child abuse and neglect registry, or from another state, to locate, recover or provide services to a child who is determined by the department to be missing or a victim of sexual exploitation. It would also amend who can have reasonable access to records of child abuse to include the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children;  
  • Senate Bill 348, which would change the timeframe from 180 days to 60 days for an individual to be considered unattended by a physician in an untimely or suspicious death circumstance. The bill would clarify that no individual would be deemed unattended by a physician while they are a resident of a long-term care facility; 
  • Senate Bill 389, which would provide state-sponsored life insurance for members of the Georgia National Guard; 
  • Senate Bill 430, which would repeal requirements for COVID-19 liability warning signs placed either at the entrances or premises or on entry tickets issued for public gatherings; 
  • Senate Bill 436, which would revise the definition of “implement of husbandry” and would add a definition for “operator” as it relates to the operation of farm use vehicles;  
  • Senate Bill 448, which is the annual Code revision bill to revise, modernize and correct errors or omissions to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. The bill would reflect the work of the Code Revision Commission to repeal portions of the Code that are obsolete, declared unconstitutional or preempted or superseded by subsequent laws. Lastly, the bill would provide for other matters relating to revision, reenactment and publication of the Code; 
  • Senate Bill 450, which would exclude certain probate court orders from the petition for review process, clarifying that state or superior courts do not have appellate jurisdiction over an order of a probate court that cannot be appealed. In certain orders, the notice of appeal filing would replace the petition for the review filing process. 

In addition to voting on legislation this week, we also took time to commemorate the life and legacy of the late House Speaker David Ralston on what would have been his birthday. Speaker of the House Jon Burns and other leaders unveiled a portrait in his honor, which will be permanently displayed outside of the House Chamber in the Capitol. Accompanied by his family and esteemed guests, the House held a ceremony on the House floor to honor Speaker Ralston’s enduring legacy and impact on our state. The unveiling event included remarks by former governors Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal, as well as remarks from the current governor, Brian Kemp. The portrait will be positioned to the right of the center entrance, on the opposite side of former House Speaker Thomas Murphy’s portrait. Speaker Ralston’s legacy will live on for many generations, and the permanent placement of his portrait outside of the House Chamber is an abundantly fitting tribute to our former colleague.   

Now that the tenth week of the legislative session has come to a close, we only have five legislative days remaining in the 2024 session. The pace is expected to intensify under the Gold Dome as we work to address outstanding issues and finalize pending legislation before the clock runs out. Despite the significant progress we have made thus far, there is still much work that lies ahead before the session’s conclusion. Moving ahead, I urge you to arrange a phone call or a visit to the State Capitol to discuss any matters of importance to you and your family. You can reach my Capitol office at 404-656-0152 and via email at  

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative. 

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