Last Friday was the 30th legislative day for the 2015 Georgia General Assembly. With “crossover day” behind us, we returned to Capitol Hill this week to focus on legislation that has already been passed by the Georgia Senate.
Bills are thoroughly vetted at this point and receive additional attention. This column will continue to focus on legislation passed by the House now being considered by the Senate.
Listed below with a brief description are several bills that passed the House.
HB 180 amends the residency qualifications for a veteran to be admitted to the Georgia State War Veterans Home to require that the veteran has resided within the state for two consecutive years or five years within the last 15 years. Current law requires that for admittance, the veteran must have resided within the state for the previous five years.
HB 230 amends the code, with respect to the Claims Advisory Board, to compensate those individuals who have been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated in a state prison. In order to be compensated, a claimant must prove that: he/she was convicted of a crime and was sentenced to a term of imprisonment; he/she served all or part of that sentence; the claimant proclaims his/her innocence; and the claimant’s innocence and wrongful conviction has been established by verifiable and substantial evidence. The amount of compensation per year is set at $50,000 per year of wrongful imprisonment.
HB 418 disqualifies certain individuals involved in pending criminal cases from serving on a grand jury. The bill adds to the list of those ineligible to serve on a grand jury to include the following: an individual in any pretrial release program, pretrial release and diversion program, or pretrial intervention and diversion; an individual sentenced under the first-offense controlled substances conditional discharge statute who has not completed the terms of his or her sentence; an individual serving a first-offender sentence pursuant to Georgia law or the law of another state; and an individual participating in a drug court division, mental health division, or veterans court division court program.
House Bill 429 provides that no health benefit plan shall restrict coverage for prescribed treatment based upon the insured’s diagnosis with a terminal condition.
HB 567 allows a contempt proceeding for enforcement of a child support order to be brought in a court other than the court that issued the order, specifically, in the county where the person owing the duty of support may be found or is employed.
HB 568 requires DNA testing in all new child support cases in Georgia. If the genetic testing excludes the alleged father from being the actual father of a child, the Department of Health Services will reimburse for the genetic testing fee.
If an alleged father is already paying child support, that individual can petition for a DNA test to determine paternity. If the test shows that the alleged father is not the biological father, he is relieved from the duty to pay child support going forward and any payments in arrears are forgiven.
As we continue working with the Senate to ensure final passage of bills, I encourage you to contact me with any concerns you might have. Your comments are always very important to me, so I hope to hear from you soon.
You can reach me at my state Capitol office at (404)656-5099 or through email at Jon.Burns@house.gov. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.