2016 Georgia Legislative Updates

by | Mar 2, 2016 | H-STAT General Blog

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Senate Bill 257: Prefiled January 7, 2016

Current Status: Prefiled January 7, 2016

Firearm safety and firearm possession are very popular issues in recent times. Currently Georgia State University had a rash of armed robberies near the school library and a recent shooting near school campus. In Georgia, firearms are often talked about due to recent open carry laws and the possible expansion there of. This Senate Bill is in relation to prohibiting the purchase of firearms by anyone part of a court proceeding. Firearms can be dangerous but people with past legal issues may or may not make them more dangerous. This legislation states that before a firearm can be purchased, the purchaser trying to obtain the firearm should be deemed eligible for firearm use, which will increase safety. What this bill proposes is one piece of a larger issue with firearm safety and regulations that can help reduce the amount of firearms accessible to people who should not have them. H-STAT fully supports the safety of others especially a vulnerable population like college students.

 

Senate Resolution 459: Introduced March 10, 2015

Current Status: Senate Recommitted January 11, 2016

The senate is looking into ways to help overcome obstacles that may hinder the possibilities of a person with a disability, in this case blind or visually impaired persons. This resolution states that the main goal is to aid in improving educational, training, as well as rehabilitative and employment opportunities for the blind or visually impaired so as to improve the quality of life for this population in the state of Georgia. This can very much lead to increased access to quality healthcare by giving someone the tools they need to become employed and be able to afford insurance coverage. H-Stat is very much about inclusion rather than exclusion and this is a step in the right direction towards equal access.

 

House Bill 866: Engrossed February 9, 2015

Current Status: Senate Passed/ Adopted Substitute March 23, 1026

This bill focused on multiple employer self-insured health plans in which the aim was to allow these health plans to be exempt from premium taxes. The health plan would only have to pay the Commissioner an annual license fee. This is a fairly new amendment and the long-term impact it has on the Georgian landscape will be interesting. H-Stat is a proponent Medicaid expansion in Georgia but also understands the financial impact the expansion will have. This is an interesting piece of legislation to keep track of.

House Bill 718: Introduced December 16, 2015

Current Status: Pending in the House Judiciary – Non Civil Committee

The use of restraints on inmates and people in “rehabilitative” institutions is not uncommon. Placing a person in restraints is usually a result of trying to protect the being placed in restraints and the people taking care of that person. This bill relates to pregnant mothers in custody and how they should be treated while in custody. It is to be prohibited that any form or restraints or shackles be used on a pregnant female inmate. At H-STAT we believe in equal and quality care for everyone and this bill will help keep innocent unborn children safe and unharmed from what could be a violent episode when placing someone in restraints.

 

House Bill 725: Introduced January 1, 2016

Current Status: Engrossed on February 29, 2016 – Passed/ Adopted March 14, 2016

Confidentiality and the release of private records often require certain permissions before they can be released for use or even accessed by anyone. Children’s privacy is especially safe guarded due to the fact that they are minors and do not have the privilege of understanding what certain situations may entail or what those records actually contain. This bill is in relation to child abuse and deprivation records, the redefining of child abuse, and to enhance confidentiality surrounding the records. Child abuse is a serious issue and H-STAT supports actions that better define what child abuse is and who has access to those files once abuse files are created.

 

House Bill 724: Introduced January 7, 2016

Current Status: Pending in House Judiciary – Non-Civil Committee

The trauma associated with being a witness to or the victim of a crime is one that only the victims know which can affect their health outcomes directly. The person in question of committing the crime deservedly must take on and deal with their sentence accordingly until otherwise. If a person who committed a crime involving someone else (victim) is due for release, the victim should have ample enough notice so they know that this person is getting out on this day and can prepare him or herself psychologically. At H-STAT we think it is important to be informed at all times about anything that can negatively affect a person’s health such as news that someone who committed a crime against you is being released.

Senate Resolution 675: Pre-filed December 12, 2015

 Current Status: Pending in the House Judiciary Committee

This is a resolution to make an amendment to the state constitution that would make English the official language of the state of Georgia. The resolution also states that English should be the official language because since the statutory law made in 1996 that made English the State’s official language economic growth has increased. The document goes on to say that any persons who only speak English should not be discriminated against and that this in no way should be used to discriminate against others who speak other languages. Public health and safety are amongst the 9 reason listed the state and its political subdivisions may use a language other than English. Language barriers are an important part of adequate healthcare access in terms of providing beneficiary healthcare information to all people. At H-STAT we strongly support equal access to healthcare and we believe everyone should have the opportunity to understand what’s going on with his or her healthcare even people who speak English as a second language.

 

Senate Bill 250: Pre-filed December 11, 2015

Current Status: Introduced December 11, 2015

This bill relates to possession and carrying of firearms by person who is currently part of a proceeding court case and has no permission from the presiding judge. If a person who is part of a proceeding and does attempt to purchase a firearm without permission form the judge it would a misdemeanor. Firearm safety and regulations are an especially hot topic of late in the state of Georgia and particularly Georgia State University. With the recent rash of armed robbery incidents on the campus, students wanted changes to be made to increase campus safety and questions answered on firearm carrying laws. Georgia State University does not allow open carrying of a firearm on campus and while some people think that is a good thing, others beg to differ. Firearm safety is a major public health issue and H-STAT pro safety. This bill encourages safe firearm acquirement and penalty for anyone attempts to acquire firearms unsafely or unjustly.

 

House Bill 716: Introduced December 11, 2016

Current Status: Pending in the House Health and Human Services Committee

This bill relates to minors and sexual orientation. This bill states that a person professionally licensed cannot provide counseling to minors under the age of 18 in order to attempt any sexual orientation changes or procedures. This bill goes on to say that these procedures referred to repairs or curing are unsubstantiated and that being gay or bisexual is should not be labeled a disease or disorder. H-STAT believes that the care of minors are especially important for positive future health outcomes and that thoughtful care should be given when working with adolescents.

House Bill 715: Pre-filed on December 8, 2015

Current Status: Introduced December 8, 2015

The Georgia State War Veterans’ Home is need of funding sources in order to support some of their facilities and cover the operating costs required. This bill requests permission for the Georgia State War Veterans’ Home to be able to participate in Medicaid and Medicare programs. If the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approve this, this will go a long way to helping them cover costs from providing services to our veterans. At H-STAT we support the increase of access to healthcare for all Georgians, especially our Veterans who deserve all the help they can get.

 

House Bill 714: Introduced December 8, 2015

Current Status: Pending in the House of Ways and Means Committee

Tobacco use is still fairly prevalent amongst the Georgian population even though various scientific research efforts have found evidence that supports the fact that tobacco use causes negative health effects including various forms of cancer. This bill introduces a possible increase in the current excise tax from $0.37 to $0.55 per pack of cigarettes. H-STAT is an organization that has strong roots in tobacco cessation programming and can see the revenue generated from this increase used for increased healthcare access to the people who need it most in Georgia.

House Bill 713: Introduced December 8, 2015

Current Status: Re-Introduced February 24, 2016

Children are among the most vulnerable populations when it comes to healthcare and their wellbeing. This is very important when it comes to parenting and the responsibilities that come along with the role of a parental guardian. The role of a parent cannot not be taken for granted and should certain circumstances arise, this role can be revoked should the environment not be safe or the parent not suitable for a child. This bill works to reveal those guidelines and make it more difficult for unsuitable situations to persist in a child’s life or remove the negative issues entirely before the child is born. Included in this bill are revisions that would change the juvenile code and how it relates to pregnancy due to rape or murder, child abuse, child abandonment, and other aggravated circumstances in which could result in termination, surrendering, or losing all parental rights. H-STAT is always working for the betterment of healthcare outcomes especially when it comes to vulnerable populations such as children.

 

Updated March 24, 2016

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