Committees, Programs & Sections

Legislative Update, Week 7 (02.27.15)

While inclement weather forced the cancellation of committee meetings and closing of the Capitol Wednesday afternoon, the General Assembly met as scheduled for four days this week and finished legislative day 23 yesterday.

Both the amended FY 2015 budget and the bill allowing the Georgia Ports Authority to indemnify the federal government on the Savannah harbor project (SB 5) have passed the House and Senate and have been signed by Governor Deal. In addition, on Wednesday, the House passed HB 1, a bill that allows treatment of nine specified illnesses with medical cannabis oil, by a vote of 157-2. It now heads to the Senate.

In State Bar news, the $21.8 million FY 2016 budget passed the House yesterday and was immediately transmitted to the Senate for consideration by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The House version of the budget includes full funding for the State Bar’s requests for legal representation of victims of domestic violence and the Georgia Appellate Resource Center. In addition, it includes money for salary increases for the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, district attorneys, public defenders as well as the lowest paid Superior Court judges in the state. While these amounts for salary increases fall short of the State Bar's request, we are grateful for the commencement of the discussion and will continue to work with appropriators. The Judicial Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee immediately got to work and held a hearing on these issues this morning.

Also on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed SB 128, the State Bar's corporate code revision. It now sits in the Senate Rules Committee awaiting a floor vote.

The General Assembly will meet Monday through Thursday of next week for legislative days 24-27. If you would like to plan a lobby day under the Gold Dome for your local or voluntary bar association, or if you have any questions about the Bar's legislative program and agenda, please contact Thomas Worthy, the State Bar of Georgia's Director of Governmental Affairs, at thomasw@gabar.org.

You are encouraged you to sign up for the State Bar Action Network, a new, web-based portal that streamlines and simplifies legislative advocacy for our members. You may sign up by clicking here and then clicking on the green button on the right side of your screen. For additional information about the State Bar of Georgia's legislative program and agenda, to track legislation or to contact the Bar's legislative team, please visit the Legislative Program page.

Legislative Update, Week 6 (02.20.15)

The General Assembly convened Tuesday through Friday of this week for legislative days 16 through 19. Most of the activity this week occurred in committee and subcommittee hearings.

On Monday, the Executive Committee of the State Bar convened to consider taking positions on pending legislation. The Executive Committee voted to support the governor's criminal justice reform and reinvestment package, which is contained in HB 310 and HB 328. In addition, the Executive Committee voted to oppose SB 86, the Patient Compensation Act. Those positions are now formal pieces of the Bar's legislative agenda.

On Wednesday, the Public Safety Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing on HB 279, the bill that increases the salaries of appellate court judges, superior court judges and district attorneys. At the hearing, the committee indicated that a committee substitute will be drafted that includes a salary increase for circuit public defenders as well. After hearing testimony from all interested parties and the Bar, the committee decided to further review the bill and will hold another hearing next week. Also on Wednesday, the House Transportation Committee overwhelmingly approved HB 170, the transportation funding bill, which will remain the priority issue of the session.

On Thursday, the amended FY15 budget achieved final passage upon the agreement of the House and Senate. It now is on Gov. Deal's desk awaiting his signature. House and Senate appropriators will now turn their focus to the FY16 budget for the remainder of the session.

This week also saw the introduction of two additional Bar bills. The Family Law Section's antenuptial agreements bill was introduced by Rep. Regina Quick ( HB 405) and the Business Law Section's corporate code revision was introduced by Sen. John Kennedy ( SB 128). We anticipate the introduction of the final two Bar bills next week.

The General Assembly will meet Monday through Thursday of next week for legislative days 20-23. If you would like to plan a lobby day under the Gold Dome for your local or voluntary bar association, or if you have any questions about the Bar's legislative program and agenda, please contact Thomas Worthy, the State Bar of Georgia's Director of Governmental Affairs, at thomasw@gabar.org.

You are encouraged you to sign up for the State Bar Action Network, a new, web-based portal that streamlines and simplifies legislative advocacy for our members. You may sign up by clicking here and then clicking on the green button on the right side of your screen. For additional information about the State Bar of Georgia's legislative program and agenda, to track legislation or to contact the Bar's legislative team, please visit the Legislative Program page.

Legislative Update, Week 5 (02.13.15)

The General Assembly met Monday through Thursday of this week for legislative days 12-15. On Monday, HB 279 was introduced by Rep. Jay Powell. This bill, part of the Bar's legislative agenda, increases the salaries of appellate and superior court judges as well as district attorneys. The Bar's legislative team will work with the sponsor during the committee process to attempt to amend the language to include the same salary increase for circuit public defenders.

On Tuesday, the Public Safety Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee held a hearing on the FY16 Budget for the Administrative Office of the Courts. The Bar's funding requests for the Appellate Resource Center and Legal Services for Victims of Domestic Violence were contained in that budget and presented to the subcommittee. It should go to the full committee within the next two weeks.

On Wednesday, Gov. Deal rolled out this year's criminal justice reform and reinvestment package. The proposed reforms are contained in HB 310 and HB 328. Among other items, HB 310 includes proposals to increase the transparency and fairness in misdemeanor probation supervision.

The Bar's legislative team continues to identify bill sponsors to draft and introduce the remaining pieces of our legislative agenda. We hope to have the final items introduced and moving through the process by the end of next week.

The General Assembly will convene Tuesday through Friday of next week for legislative days 16-19. If you would like to plan a lobby day under the Gold Dome for your local or voluntary bar association, or if you have any questions about the Bar's legislative program and agenda, please contact Thomas Worthy, the State Bar of Georgia's Director of Governmental Affairs, at thomasw@gabar.org.

You are encouraged to sign up for the State Bar Action Network, a new, web-based portal that streamlines and simplifies legislative advocacy for our members. You may sign up by clicking here and then clicking on the green button on the right side of your screen. For additional information about the State Bar of Georgia's legislative program and agenda, to track legislation or to contact the Bar's legislative team, please visit the Legislative Program page.

Legislative Update, Week 4 (02.06.15)

The General Assembly met Monday through Wednesday of this week for legislative days 9 through 11. On Wednesday, Chief Justice Hugh Thompson delivered the annual State of the Judiciary address, in which he discussed the need for judicial pay increases. In addition, he focused on access to justice and applauded the State Bar's proposed Attorneys for Rural Areas Assistance Act. On that same day, Rep. Alex Atwood introduced the Attorneys for Rural Areas Assistance Act, HB 236.

Also on Wednesday, the Fleming Subcommittee of the House Judiciary-Civil Committee held a hearing on HB 153, the State Bar's unauthorized practice of law bill. There was a thorough discussion and vetting of the legislation. Some trade associations and other groups expressed concerns that the legislation was drafted too broadly. The Real Property Law Section is working with the State Bar's legislative team to review those concerns and see if we can alleviate them.

SB 86, the Patient Compensation Act, was introduced Wednesday by Sen. Brandon Beach. We are reviewing that legislation to see if there are any changes from last year's version, which was opposed by the State Bar.

The General Assembly will convene Monday through Thursday of next week for legislative days 12-15. If you would like to plan a lobby day under the Gold Dome for your local or voluntary bar association, or if you have any questions about the Bar's legislative program and agenda, please contact Thomas Worthy, the State Bar of Georgia's Director of Governmental Affairs, at thomasw@gabar.org.

You are encouraged to sign up for the State Bar Action Network, a new, web-based portal that streamlines and simplifies legislative advocacy for our members. You may sign up by clicking here and then clicking on the green button on the right side of your screen. For additional information about the State Bar of Georgia's legislative program and agenda, to track legislation or to contact the Bar's legislative team, please visit the Legislative Program page.

Legislative Update, Week 3 (01.30.15)

The General Assembly met Monday through Thursday this week for legislative days 5 through 8 and immediately got to work after spending last week conducting budget hearings. On Wednesday, House Speaker David Ralston and Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Roberts held a press conference to unveil the Transportation Funding Act of 2015, HB 170. The bill was introduced on Thursday morning. Transportation and infrastructure funding will be the main topic of this year's session, and HB 170 is the opening round. Also on Thursday, the House passed the Amended FY15 budget, also known as the Supplemental Budget, while the Senate unanimously passed SB 1, which would require insurance companies to provide autism treatment coverage for young children.

In State Bar news, our legislative team continues to work with members of the General Assembly and the Office of Legislative Counsel to get draft bills to carry our agenda items and get them introduced. HB 153, the Real Property Law Section's unauthorized practice of law bill, was introduced Thursday by Rep. Tom Weldon. The remainder of the Bar's agenda items will be introduced in the next two weeks. Also on Thursday, I took the annual photo with our lawyer-legislators for the cover of the Georgia Bar Journal. It is a great way to show our appreciation for their service to the state and our profession.

The General Assembly will convene next Monday, Feb. 2, through Wednesday, Feb. 4, for legislative days 9 through 11. We expect to see the annual report of the Georgia Criminal Justice Reform Council released next week, which we will continue to monitor closely and participate in as needed.

On Thursday, members of the Savannah Bar Association joined us at the Capitol and participated in a lobby day. If you would like to plan a lobby day under the Gold Dome for your local or voluntary bar association, or if you have any questions about the Bar's legislative program and agenda, please contact Thomas Worthy, the State Bar of Georgia's Director of Governmental Affairs, at thomasw@gabar.org.

You are encouraged to sign up for the State Bar Action Network, a new, web-based portal that streamlines and simplifies legislative advocacy for our members. You may sign up by clicking here and then clicking on the green button on the right side of your screen. For additional information about the State Bar of Georgia's legislative program and agenda, to track legislation or to contact the Bar's legislative team, please visit the Legislative Program page.

Legislative Update, Week 1 (01.20.15)

The 2015 Regular Session of the 152nd Georgia General Assembly commenced last Monday, Jan. 12, with great pomp and circumstance. Legislative day 1 saw the swearing-in ceremonies of each member of the General Assembly as well as Gov. Deal, Attorney General Olens and the other state constitutional officers.

On Tuesday, legislative day 2, the General Assembly convened to begin taking care of regular business, like formally reading proposed legislation and assigning it to the appropriate committees. Committee chairmen were not completed and announced by chamber leadership until Thursday, so there were no committee hearings on proposed legislation last week.

On Wednesday, legislative day 3 of the legislative session, the General Assembly met jointly to hear Gov. Deal's State of the State address. In that speech, the governor focused on what will certainly be the big themes of this year's session-transportation, K-12 education, probation supervision, criminal justice reform and medical cannabis oil.

The General Assembly convened again on Thursday, Jan. 15, for legislative day 4, when it received Gov. Deal's FY 2016 budget recommendations.

The General Assembly did not convene on Monday in observance of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and will be in adjournment this week so the appropriations committees can hold hearings on the Amended FY 2015 and FY 2016 budgets. It will convene next Monday, Jan. 26, for legislative day 5. In the meantime, the State Bar's legislative team continues to secure sponsors for each item of the Bar's legislative agenda.

If you have any questions about the Bar's legislative program and agenda, or if you would like to plan a lobby day under the Gold Dome for your local or voluntary bar association, please contact Thomas Worthy, the State Bar of Georgia's Director of Governmental Affairs, at thomasw@gabar.org. I would also like to encourage you to sign up for the State Bar Action Network, a new, web-based portal that streamlines and simplifies legislative advocacy for our members. You may sign up by clicking here and then clicking on the green button on the right side of your screen.

For additional information about the State Bar of Georgia's legislative program and agenda, to track legislation or to contact the Bar's legislative team, please visit the Legislative Program page.

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