The 2018 House Session has officially adjourned! Thursday, March 29, my House colleagues and I officially completed Legislative Day 40 and adjourned sine die. During this busy week, my colleagues and I worked late into the night to ensure that quality legislation was passed in order to benefit our state and its citizens. Here is a recap of some of the most important bills passed underneath the Gold Dome during our last week of session.

Senate Bill 127 – This bill was passed unanimously by the House and would provide a process for victims to be heard by the court when the victims’ constitutional rights to participation and information have been denied. Under this bill, if the victim of a crime makes a written request to the prosecuting attorney to be notified of all proceedings, then the victim can file a motion to the court to be heard on the matter within 20 days after the claimed violation.

Senate Resolution 146 – This resolution was passed unanimously as well and is also known as “Marsy’s Law.” This resolution would place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to provide victims explicit rights in Georgia’s Constitution. If the amendment is approved by Georgia voters, our state’s Constitution would grant victims several rights, including: reasonable, accurate and timely notice of any court proceedings or schedule changes involving the alleged crime; reasonable and timely notice of the arrest, release or escape of the accused; inclusion in any court proceedings; the opportunity to be heard in any proceedings involving the release, plea or sentencing of the accused; and to be informed of his or her rights.

Senate Bill 154 – This bill holds those in positions of authority accountable for sexual assault by defining sexual assault in both the first and the second degree. Under SB 154, anyone who engages in sexual contact with a victim under their care or supervision would be guilty of sexual assault in the second degree and would be required to serve a prison sentence of 1-5 years and fined a maximum of $25,000. They, however, would not be required to register as a sex offender. Anyone who engages in sexually explicit conduct with a victim under their care or supervision would be guilty of sexual assault in the first degree and would be required to serve a prison sentence of one to 25 years, fined a maximum of $100,000 and must register as a sex offender. Furthermore, SB 154 provides exceptions to these sentencing requirements for offenders who commit sexual assault in either degree if the offender did not have supervisory or disciplinary authority over the victim at the time of the offense or if the victim is younger than 16-years- old; if the victim is between 14 and 16-years- old and the offender is 18-years- old or younger; and if the victim is at least 16-years- old and the offender is younger than 21-years- old. This measure would apply to employees and agents of any school, community supervision office, probation office, law enforcement agency, hospital, correctional facility, juvenile detention facility, disability services facility or child welfare and youth services facility, as well as to psychotherapy counselors and practitioners and employees, agents and volunteers of licensed facilities that provide drug and alcohol treatment, senior living care or hospice services.

Senate Bill 407 – Over the past several years, the Georgia General Assembly, under the leadership of Governor Nathan Deal, has passed significant criminal justice reform measures that have truly changed lives, and this week, the House unanimously passed the last criminal justice bill under Gov. Deal’s administration! Senate Bill 407 consists of several recommendations from the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council including:

  • Authorizing courts of iniquity are to set bail for city ordinance violations.
  • Prohibit courts from imposing excessive bail.
  • Requiring courts to consider the accused’s financial resources when determining bail.
  • In cases involving local ordinance violations, the court would be authorized to allow the defendant to satisfy any fines or fees through community service.
  • The Judicial Council of Georgia would develop a uniform misdemeanor citation and complaint form for use by law enforcement officials.
  • This bill would also expand the list of misdemeanor crimes and officer can arrest by citation, and prior to the offender’s release, the officer would be required to review the accused’s criminal record and ensure the accused’s fingerprints are obtained.
  • It would allow Technical College System police officers to arrest for offenses committed on or within 500 feet of a Technical College System property.

Senate Bill 427 – My House colleagues and I also passed this bill this week that would update Georgia’s child support laws. Under this bill, courts would be required to consider an obligor’s, or an individual that owes child support, earnings, income, ability to pay child support and the basic needs of the recipients of such support when making a final determination of child support. If a parent fails to produce a reliable evidence of their earnings, their income for the current year may be assigned by the court based off the parent’s ability to earn and other economic factors. If the parent is incarcerated, their income may be assigned based of their actual income and assets available, not off their pre-incarceration wages. This bill would also ensure that a child’s enrollment in a public health care program, may satisfy the health care requirement for providing for the child’s health care needs. This measure would bring Georgia into compliance with new federal child support regulations for the good of our state’s children, as well as their parents.

Senate Bill 401 – This bill seeks to equip Georgia’s students for their professional careers. Senate Bill 401 would require post secondary institutions that provide dual credit courses to provide enrollment and student record data to the Office of Student Achievement and to the statewide longitudinal data system. In addition to this the Office of Student Achievement would collect and monitor enrollment and student record data for dual credit courses and would annually measure and evaluate the dual enrollment program. This bill would also require middle school students to be provided with counseling and information to assist them in evaluating their career orientated aptitudes, and all students would develop a graduation plan with their parents or guardians based on their academic skills, career orientated aptitudes and career interests before the end of eighth grade.

House Bill 930 – This bill would create a new regional governance and funding structure for transit in the metropolitan Atlanta region. HB 930 intends to improve the coordination,  integration and efficiency of transit in the metropolitan Atlanta region and promote a seamless and high-quality transit system for the 13-county metropolitan Atlanta region. These bills were both major House priorities this session.

Finally, before we adjourned sine die for the year, the House fulfilled our only legislative responsibility as outlined in Georgia’s Constitution. On Thursday, March 29, we gave final passage to the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY 2019) budget, House Bill 684, by adopting a conference committee report.

Over the next 40 days, Gov. Deal will review and sign or veto measures that received final House and Senate passage this session. Any bill the governor signs will become law, and any legislation not signed or vetoed within this 40-day period will automatically become law as well. My House colleagues and I have worked diligently this session on behalf of our constituents, and we are proud of the legislation we have crafted and passed for the good of our state. While the session is over, I will continue to serve you and your family as our district’s state representative. Please feel free to reach out to me anytime at Capitol office at 404-656-0287, or by email at karen.mathiak@house.ga.gov. You can also stay up to date by checking out my Facebook Page

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

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