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Georgia Session Update: Week 6

We have until February 28 to get all bills from the House or Senate to the other chamber if they are to become law.

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Key Dates

  • The Georgia House of representatives will reconvene on Tuesday, February 20th at 10am.
  • The Georgia Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, February 20th at 10am.
  • On Wednesday, February 28th, Crossover day, all bills from the House or Senate need to make it over to the other chamber if they are to become law.

You can keep track of each day of the legislative session by visiting http://www.gpb.org/lawmakers. While there you can view live streams from both chambers of the General Assembly and watch the capital update.

Campaign Updates

State Campaigns

Priority policies - 

Telephone CPR:

The AHA is continuing to advocate for the passage of legislation requiring all 911 telecommunicators that provide dispatch for emergency conditions be trained in the delivery of high quality telephone CPR.

Status: Our T-CPR bill, sponsored by Rep. Jesse Petrea, has made its way out of drafting and will be introduced early next week after which it is still most likely be sent to the House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. The bill gained an important cosponsor on Thursday the 15th, Chairman Ron Stephens, and we will be speaking with representatives on Tuesday the 20th in order to gain further support. Once the bill is introduced we will be working with Rep. Petrea and Chairman Alan Powell to get it heard at the first available committee meeting. Additionally, we are looking for more external coalition partners to aid in its passage.

HB 926 Quality Physical Education:

The AHA is also advocating for the passage of physical education assessment legislation. The goal of this policy is to increase accountability reporting of schools to provide quality physical education based on specific assessment measures.

Status: Representative Beth Beskin introduced our PE assessment policy bill earlier this week under the name HB 926. We were able to work with the Representative to gain the support of Reps Belton, Stovall, Chandler, Clark, and Dempsey as cosponsors. On Tuesday the 20th we will be meeting with Chairman Brooks Coleman of the Education committee to urge him to put HB 926 on his earliest committee agenda so that we can move it forward towards a full vote in the house.

Defensive policies - 

HB 835 Related to tobacco sales:

This past week we became aware of a bill that was introduced by Representative Jodi Lott related to the sale of tobacco products across the state. This bill would allow tobacco dealers to apply for a special permit that would enable them to sell their wares at festivals and “temporary locations” across the state. This permit would cost $10, last a minimum of 1 and maximum of 10 days, and could be applied for an unlimited amount of times a year. We consider the policy this bill proposes to be dangerous to the pubic health of our state and will be opposing its passage.

Status: We met with Representative Lott and voiced our concerns about the bill but she is steadfast in her support for it. Currently, we are collaborating with our partners at ACSCAN and VFTFK to disseminate information to legislators with the hope of stalling the bill. Despite HB 835 passing through its first committee, Regulated Industries, earlier this week we are confident that we will be able to halt its progress.

HB 877 Related to tobacco taxes:

The day after HB 835 was introduced by Representative Lott another harmful pro-tobacco bill was introduced, this time by Representative Chad Nimmer. This bill would decrease the taxes on tobacco products in Georgia that made their way into the FDA’s modified risk category by up to 50%. It should be noted that there currently does not exist any products in this category, but they could hypothetically include snus and e-cigarette/vape products. As with HB 835 we believe HB 877 to be harmful to the public health of Georgia and will be opposing its passage.

Status: A hearing on HB 877 was held in Chairman Ron Stephens Public Finance and Policy subcommittee of Ways and Means on Wednesday afternoon. Testimony was heard both for and against the bill and the members of the committee voiced serious concerns about its consequences. Ultimately not vote was taken and it is unclear if another hearing will be given. Currently, we are actively lobbying the members of this subcommittee and the Chairman of Ways & Means, Jay Powell, to try and kill the bill.

We will continue to provide updates as they are given to me. Contact michael.cortes@heart.org with questions or if you would like to get engaged.

Local Campaigns

Smoke-free Atlanta:

The American Heart Association and Smoke-free Atlanta coalition are continuing to work together for the passage of a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance in the city of Atlanta.
Status: The coalition is currently working towards obtaining further support from the local community for our policy. This is being done by holding numerous community educational events which can be found in the Key Dates section of this update. Additionally, we will be moving forward with the lobby portion of the campaign once the legislative session comes to a close in late March.

Smoke-free Marietta:

As an official member of the Breath Easy Cobb County Coalition the American Heart Association will be assisting in the launch of a public outreach and education campaign in the coming weeks and months. This will aid in achieving the coalitions goal of advancing smoke-free policies in the City of Marietta.
Status: This campaign is still in its planning stages and we do not expect to have an ordinance introduced until the summer at the earliest. Currently we are developing a community outreach plan as well as power mapping the members of the city council.

If you live in Atlanta or Marietta and would like to be engaged, please email michael.Cortes@heart.org.

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