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2020 Georgia General Assembly

Update: Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The General Assembly is set to convene next Monday for its 2020 session. Session lasts 40 days, with with starts and stops of the legislative calendar it typically concludes in late March or early April. 

And, because the state legislature technically works in “biennial” or 2-year sessions, and 2019 was the first year of the biennial, any bill on which no action was taken last year will be “alive” for consideration in 2020. (They go back to their original committee.) However, bills that were defeated last year, will have to be re-introduced. They’re listed below. Of greatest concern to us were two anti-vaccine bills that were introduced last year in the House. thankfully they did not move. (When a bill starts to progress with favorable passage from one committee to the next in the legislative process, it is said to be “moving”. Conversely, when a bill is stuck or being held up by opponents, the bill “isn’t moving.”)

The Chapter’s Legislative Committee, chaired by Melinda Willingham, MD meets regularly via teleconference to discuss bills and issues at the Capitol. It’s open to all Chapter members. Contact Kathryn Autry (kautry@gaaap.org) at the Chapter office. And be sure to know who your state senator and state representative are. You can find that out by clicking on the button above.

The Chapter’s top state legislative priorities for this year are:

1. Support & strengthen Georgia’s childhood immunization system and strongly oppose any legislative attempts to weaken it, such as HB 416 and HR 648, which seek to spread misinformation and unwarranted concerns about the safety and benefits of immunizations.

2. Address the vaping/nicotine/e-cigarette crisis, including banning flavors including mint and menthol, and taxing vaping and e-cigarettes (which are not taxed at all now) at the same level as conventional cigarettes.

3. Strengthen the Georgia Medicaid program, so vitally important to the more than 500,000 children who live in rural Georgia. To accomplish this in part, increase primary care basic services codes from 2014 Medicare to 2018 Medicare levels.

4. Support early brain and early child development, including the findings and recommendations of the Dempsey House Study Committee on infant & toddler social-emotional health.


ANTI-VAXX BILL—“Consumer Protection Office”, establish — HB 416 by Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville): OPPOSE.
Would create a State “Vaccine Consumer Protection Office,” create a committee of anti-vaccine consumers, and provide information on assessment, Dx, and treatment of potential vaccine injuries. Assigned to House Health and Human Services Committee (Rep. Sharon Cooper, chair) and did not move last session.

Would allow minors who are 16 or 17 years of age to receive vaccinations without parental consent. Assigned to the Health and Human Services Committee.

Anti-Vaxx Resolution: VACCINE INJURY — HR 648 by Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Milledgeville). OPPOSE.
Urges the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the University System of Georgia to fund additional vaccine-injury related research. The resolution was assigned to the House Health and Human Services Committee, which did not take up the measure

APRN SCOPE OF PRACTICE – ORDER IMAGING — SB 109 by Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry) and HB 409 by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) would allow APRNs to order radio-graphic imaging tests in non-life-threatening situation. Senate Health Committee modified the Senate bill to require that nurses must have a minimum of five years in practice to be able to order radiological tests in non-emergent situations.

CONVERSION THERAPY — HB 580 by Rep. Matt Wilson (D-Brookhaven) would prohibit the practice of conversion therapy. Referred to the Regulated Industries Committee. SUPPORT

DEXTROMETHORPHAN — HB 112 by Rep. John LaHood (R-Valdosta) would prohibit the sale to and by minors of drug products containing dextromethorphan (a medication most often used as a cough suppressant in over-the-counter cold and cough medicines). Assigned to the Juvenile Justice Committee.

HANDHELD ELECTIONIC DEVICES — HB 113 by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) specifies that anyone driving with a Class C learners permit, Class C license, or Motorcycle instruction permit is prohibited from using a stand-alone electronic device or wireless telecommunications device unless it is an emergency.

Gun bills that were introduced but did not move:
• HB 20, HB 58, HB 137, SB 150 all proposed to prohibit gun ownership by individual convicted of misdemeanors crimes of family violence. Public Safety.
• HB 55 by Rep. Roger Bruce (D-Atlanta) would prohibit using 3-D printer to produce guns. Public Safety
• HB 122 and SB 50 were introduced by Democrats in the House and Senate to repeal the Campus Carry law passed in 2017. Public Safety
• SB 224 by Sen. Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla) would eliminate the exception for allowing places of worship to determine if they want to allow the carrying of weapons or long guns by license holders on their premises.

JUVENILE SHACKLING — HB 438 by Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton) proposes to restrict shackling of children to only those cases where the child poses a real risk to the courtroom.

SURPRISE BILLING — HB 84 by Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) and SB 56 by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) both attempted to address the issue of surprise medical bills.

SWIMMING POOL Exemptions— HB 477 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) would exempt pools located in condominium complexes from being required to obtain a permit for operation from the Department of Public Health.

DNR FOR MINORS — SB 104 by Sen. Chuck Payne (R-Dalton) proposes to revise the parental requirements for consent to an order for do not resuscitate for a minor child.

PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFITS — SB 195 by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) creates the Prescription Drug Benefits Freedom of Information and Consumer Protection Act that requires pharmacy benefit managers and insurers to post formulary information on their websites.

Day at the Capitol!
Finally, the Georgia AAP Day at the Capitol will be held Thursday, March 5, 2020 at the Georgia Railroad Depot and State Capitol, 8:30am to 2pm. We’re joined at this annual event by our colleagues in primary care from the societies of family physicians, internal medicine, OB-Gyn, and DO’s. We hope to see you there. Register by February 20th. 

House Appropriations Committee Leadership

Terry England, Auburn
404-463-2247 Cap

Rep. Butch Parrish, Swainsboro
Chair, Sub-committee on Community Health/Medicaid

House Leadership
Rep. David Ralston, Blue Ridge
Speaker of the House

Rep. Jan Jones, Milton
Speaker Pro Tem

Rep. Jon Burns, Statesboro

Senate Appropriations Committee

Sen. Jack Hill, Reidsville, Chair

Sen. Ben Watson, MD, Savannah

Chair, Senate Health & Human Services

Senate Leadership
Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, Alpharetta

Sen. Mike Dugan, Carrollton
Senate Majority Leader 

Sen. Butch Miller, Gainesville
Senate President Pro Tem


Further Information

For a complete text of any these bills you can visit the Georgia General Assembly website:  www.legis.state.ga.us.   For more information on these or other bills, contact Rick Ward, at the Chapter office, at jrice@gaaap.org. Thanks to the members of the Legislative Committee for their efforts during the session and to all our members who contacted their legislators about our issues.  Your support and participation in the legislative process is vitally important to our advocacy.