2019 GNA Legislative Session Wrap Up Report
The 157th Georgia Legislature completed its work on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. A great number of bills have passed through both chambers and await Gov. Brian Kemp’s signature into law.
House Bill 287 sponsored by Rep. Matt Dubnik (R - Gainesville), commonly known as PTIP, proposes to create a new income tax credit for those who are licensed physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, or physician assistants who provide uncompensated preceptorship training to medical students, advanced practice registered nurse students, or physician assistant students. PTIP passed the House on March 5th by a vote of 163-2. It passed the Senate by a vote of 41 to 9. The measure now sits on Governor Kemp’s desk awaiting his signature into law.
House Bill 31 sponsored by Rep. Terry England (R - Auburn) is the FY’20 budget. A conference committee of House and Senate leadership was appointed to work out the differences between the two chambers’ proposed versions of the budget. Most importantly regarding the agreed upon budget, the Georgia Nurses Foundation’s (“GNF”) appropriations request was maintained in the amount of $150,000. The monies are to be used to help bolster the current Peer Assistance Program into a full-time program.
Senate Bill 106 was signed into law during a March 27, 2019 ceremony held on the north steps of the State Capitol. The bill, sponsored by Senator Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) on behalf of Gov. Kemp, proposed to provide the Governor wide latitude to apply for 1115 Medicaid waivers by June 30, 2020 that could be used to extend coverage to uninsured Georgians living under 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL). It also includes language to allow 1332 state innovation waivers to be applied for by December 31, 2021. The 1332 waiver would be designed to address the affordability and availability of private insurance. Most states have used 1332 waivers to create a reinsurance program or high-risk pool. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 31-20 on Tuesday, February 26th and the House by a vote of 104 to 67. The 100% Federal Poverty Level (FPL) instead of the 138% FPL was of great concern to the Democrat members of both chambers and was responsible for most of the debate regarding the legislation.
House Resolution 448 sponsored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R - Marietta) was amended to be a House Study Committee. The resolution proposes to create a study committee on safe staffing levels of nurses in Georgia. The resolution was in the breast of the House Rules Committee where it was caught up in the commotion of day 40 and failed to be placed on the floor for a vote.
On a similarly hectic note, S.B. 214, a bill originally proposed to regulate the number of apprenticeship hours required by barbers and cosmetologist, was a conference committee report that included an amalgamation of several bills. One of the bills that was included was H.B. 42 sponsored Rep. Scot Turner (R - Holly Springs) and S.B. 92 sponsored by Brandon Beach (R - Alpharetta) that will prohibit professional licensing boards from taking an adverse action upon a license of a person who is a borrower in default under an educational loan issued through the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation or through a federal agency. This conference committee report was agreed to by the House and Senate and sits on Governor Kemp’s desk for his signature.
Lastly, S.B. 76 sponsored by Sen. Ellis Black (R - Valdosta) never moved from the Senate Rules Committee to the Senate floor for a vote. The legislation proposed to rename “veterinary technicians” to “veterinary nurses” by opening up the Nurse Practice Act and providing an exception to the title protection provided to nurses. GNA worked together with the chairman of Senate Health & Human Services Committee, Sen. Ben Watson (R - Savannah), and the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, Sen. Jeff Mullis (R - Chickamauga), along with Sen. Renee Unterman (R - Buford), to educate Senators, and ensure Rules Committee members knew the importance of stopping this legislation and maintaining the public trust in the title “nurse.”
The General Assembly will not return to the capitol until the second year of the biennial in January 2020 as the 157th meeting of the Georgia General Assembly continues. At that time, the measures that were not passed this session will again be available for consideration, as well as any new legislation that is introduced.
The following bills were introduced during the 2019 Legislative Session and those found in BOLD are available for consideration for Gov. Kemp’s signature:
H.B. 287 (Dubnik - Gainesville) -- PTIP;
H.B. 409 (Powell - Hartwell) -- APRN Radiological Testing Scope Expansion;
H.R. 448 – House study committee on safe staffing for nurses;
S.B. 76 (Black - Valdosta) -- Veterinary Nurses;
S.B. 106 (Tillery - Vidalia) -- “Patients First Act”; Signed March 27, 2019
S.B. 109 (Walker - Perry) -- APRN Radiological Testing Scope Expansion;
Other Bills of Interest:
H.B. 10 (Bazemore - Riverdale) --Best practices for feminine hygiene products;
H.B. 42 (Turner - Holly Springs) -- Prohibition on professional licensure boards from
refusing to issue a license or suspending or revoking the license of a person who is
a borrower in default under an educational loan;
H.B. 160 (Dempsey - Rome) -- Department of Community Health to reinstate bariatric
surgery coverage pilot program;
H.B. 166 (Silcox - Atlanta) -- Licensure of Genetic Counselors;
H.B 168 (Taylor, D. - Thomasville) -- Extend tax exemption for five years of property
sold to nonprofit health centers;
H.B. 187 (Dempsey - Rome) -- Create a pilot program to provide coverage of obesity;
H.B. 198 (Smith, R. - Columbus) -- Certificate of Need reform, plus Rural Hospital Tax
H.B. 370 (Cooper - Marietta) -- Revise the number of APRNs with which a delegating
physician can enter into a protocol agreement in an emergency medical system;
H.B. 374 (LaHood - Valdosta) -- Authorize certified medication aides to administer
liquid morphine to residents in hospice care pursuant to written orders;
H.B. 442 (Schofield - Atlanta) -- Create a grant program to encourage certain physicians to
practice in underserved areas of the state;
H.B. 508 (Harrell - Snellville) -- Fees from licensing boards deposited into the treasury;
S.B. 92 (Beach - Alpharetta) -- Prohibits professional licensure boards from refusing to
issue a license or suspend or revoke the license of a person who is a borrower in
default under an educational loan;
S.B. 114 (Burke - Bainbridge) -- Certificate of Need reform;
S.B. 168 (Kirk - Americus) -- Update to the Nurse Licensure Compact;
**Note: Contains the contents of H.B. 370 (Cooper - Marietta);
S.B. 207 (Burke- Bainbridge) -- Georgia Board for Physician Workforce; change name; board's membership; revise
S.B. 267 (Jackson - Savannah) -- “Certified Community Midwife Act”;
S.R. 202 (Hufstetler - Rome) -- Study Committee on Evaluating and Simplifying Physician
Oversight of Midlevel Providers;