2017 Legislative Session
February 24, 2017
Legislative Days 21 – 24
Crossover Day Approaches
Crossover Day is the all-important deadline for a bill to be adopted by its originating chamber. Capitol historians remember when Crossover would take place on legislative day 35; it has slowly moved up the legislative calendar to day 30. However, rules adopted earlier this year will place Crossover on day 28, which will occur on next Friday, March 3. Both the House and Senate will work well into the evening to maximize the number of bills that crossover.
SB 2: The FAST Act by Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton
Assigned to the House Small Business Development Committee on 2/21
SB 2 attempts to support Georgia’s businesses by creating efficiency and transparency in the permitting and licensing process at the state and local level. The bill has been amended to require that an applicant initially only pay 50% of permitting or licensing fees, with the balance to be paid before the license, certificate or permit is issued. The legislation requires state and local government agencies to establish a fee schedule that will include turnaround times. If the agency fails to meet that schedule, the fee will be reduced by 10% for every ten days past the deadline. In addition, agencies will be required to offer expedited processing, which can be no more than twice the original fee.
Section 3 of the bill also requires each professional licensing board to establish rules to issue provisional licenses for individuals who have been previously licensed by the board or who have been licensed for that profession in another state. The boards are permitted to refuse to issue provisional licenses, but only if they can determine that doing so would pose a significant danger to the life, health or safety of the public.
SB 67: Bring Small Businesses Back by Sen. John Albers, R-Alpharetta
Received a hearing in the Senate Economic Development & Tourism Committee on 2/21
In an attempt to make government friendlier to small business, SB 67 amends the administrative procedures act to include requirements for cost-benefit analysis and other assessments. The administrative procedures act governs the process by which departments and boards, including professional licensing boards, promulgate rules and regulations.
HB 40: Veterinary Records by Rep. Scot Turner, R-Holly Springs
Adopted by the House on 2/22
Representative Scot Turner has reintroduced legislation that requires a veterinarian to disclose the rabies vaccination history of any animal in the veterinarian’s care to the physician caring for a person bitten by that animal. The veterinarian has 24 hours from receipt of the written request from the physician to supply the vaccination history. This version is identical to the compromise the GVMA reached with the author last year, which limited the scope of the request to rabies.
Animal Welfare and Regulatory Issues
HB 253: Dog and Cat Sterilization by Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs
Favorably reported from the House Motor Vehicles Committee on 2/21
HB 253 increases the proportion of money derived from the sale of specialty license plates promoting the dog and cat reproductive sterilization support program from $10 to $19 per tag. The non-profit Humane Association of Georgia collected signatures from over 60 House members in support of the legislation.
HB 473: Service Animals by Rep. Tom Kirby, R-Loganville
Assigned to the House Health and Human Services Committee on 2/23
Similar to legislation the author introduced last year, HB 473 provides for additional rights and responsibilities for persons with service animals. Part of the author’s intent is to limit abuse of service animal and companion animal protections.
The author originally filed HB 288earlier in February. The bill was not well received by a House Judiciary Non-Civil Subcommittee during a hearing on February 17. Therefore, the author refiled the legislation, which was then assigned to a different committee.
HB 144: Regulate Retail Pet Stores by Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs
Pending in the House Rules Committee
Offered by the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, HB 144 creates a new class of pet dealers licensed by the Department. These licensed retail pet store owners must administer certain inoculations before selling an animal and must guarantee the animals for 14 days after sale to ensure only healthy animals are sold. It prohibits local governments from adopting ordinances that ban the otherwise legal sale of animals from retailers licensed by the bill. In response, the Georgia Pet Coalition has filed SB 214, which contains many of the safeguards found in HB 144 but does not include the local preemption language.
HB 49: Livestock Dealers and Market Operators by Rep. Clay Pirkle, R-Ashburn
Pending in the Senate Rules Committee
This legislation updates license and surety requirements of livestock dealers and livestock market operators. It also requires the Commissioner of Agriculture to publish the names and locations of duly-licensed dealers and market operators. While the bill is eligible for placement on the Senate debate calendar, the Senate is not likely to consider the measure until after Crossover Day.
Pharmacy, Public Health and Safety Issues
HB 213: Trafficked Drugs by Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna
Scheduled for debate in the House on 2/27
This measure helps combat the trafficking of drugs cut with fentanyl. The Association provided the author and Judiciary Non-Civil Chairman written comments to help the Committee understand the legitimate uses of fentanyl and its derivatives within veterinary medicine.
SB 241: Prescription Database by Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford
Assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on 2/23
SB 241 transfers the responsibility of maintaining the state’s electronic database of prescription information from the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency to the Department of Public Health.
HB 231: Annual Drug Update by Rep. Bruce Broadrick, R-Dalton
Pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee
HB 231 is the annual drug update bill, which changes and reclassifies provisions related to controlled substances. Of particular interest to veterinarians, the bill classifies Carfentanil and Thiafentanil as Schedule II controlled substances.
HB 176: Food Standards by Rep. Tom McCall, R-Elberton
Pending in the Senate Rules Committee
HB 176 authorizes Georgia’s Department of Agriculture to enter into agreement with the federal government to enforce provisions of certain federal laws relating to standards, labeling, and adulteration of food.
SB 78: Adulteration and Misbranding of Food by Sen. Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown
Pending in the House Rules Committee
This bill authorizes the Commissioner of Agriculture to issue a variance or waiver to certain rules and regulations promulgated by the Department relating to the adulteration and misbranding of food.
Congressional and State Election
After Congressman Tom Price was confirmed by the US Senate to serve as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services, a staggering 18 individuals qualified to replace him as Georgia’s 6th district Congressman, including state senator Judson Hill.
In compliance with Georgia’s “resign to run law,” Hill resigned his state Senate seat upon qualification. At least seven candidates qualified to fill the East Cobb seat.
Both elections will be held concurrently on April 18. With such a crowded field, it is unlikely that any candidate will receive a majority of votes, which will trigger a runoff between the top two finishers in each election on June 20.