In his weekly updated from the State Capitol, Rep. Eddie Lumsden highlights the bills in consideration to be voted on before the upcoming “Crossover Day”. Rep. Lumsden and his colleagues passed House Bill 307 which looks to extend telehealth services for health care providers. This bill will restrict insurances from requiring additional deductibles and co pays for these services, while striving to maintain current record keeping practices for telehealth visits. House Resolution 119, honoring retired U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, who served for 43 years, was unanimously adopted. The Resolution would dedicate the bridge on State Route 307 over the Georgia Ports Authority Mega Rail Site in Chatham County as the Senator Johnny Isakson Bridge. You can read Rep. Eddie Lumsdens’ full update below.
On Monday, February 22, we returned to the State Capitol for the seventh week of the 2021 legislative session. Monday marked the halfway point of the session, and this week was our busiest yet as we geared up for the impending “Crossover Day” deadline. From expanding access to health care to looking after some of our more vulnerable residents, the House examined a myriad of legislative initiatives this week that are important to Georgians. At the beginning of the week, my colleagues and I passed House Bill 307 to authorize health care providers to continue to provide telehealth services from home and patients to receive telehealth services from their home, workplace or school even after the pandemic is over. This legislation would also allow for audio-only care via phone call under certain circumstances, such as a lack of broadband connection. To extend insurance coverage for telehealth services, HB 307 would prohibit insurers from requiring separate deductibles or an in-person consultation before paying for a virtual appointment and restrict insurers from requiring providers to use a specific telehealth platform or vendor. Likewise, insurers could not restrict the prescribing of medications through telehealth that are more restrictive than what is currently required under state and federal law for in-person prescribing. Further, this bill would require providers to maintain documentation of each virtual health care appointment in a manner that is as extensive and thorough as their documentation for in-person visits. Throughout the pandemic, health care providers across the country have utilized telehealth services to continue to treat patients while COVID-19 has limited in-person options, especially for mental and behavioral health treatment. Many Georgians have benefited from these safe and convenient types of appointments, and HB 307 would ensure that Georgians can continue to receive this type of care for years to come.
We honored a great Georgian this week through the unanimous adoption of House Resolution 119, which would recognize and honor retired U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, who served our state and country with distinction for 43 years. This bipartisan measure would dedicate the bridge on State Route 307 over the Georgia Ports Authority Mega Rail Site in Chatham County as the Senator Johnny Isakson Bridge. Senator Isakson’s commitment to growing our state’s economic footprint could not be more apparent than in his work to guarantee federal funding for the Port of Savannah. During his time as a leader in Washington, D.C., Isakson secured major federal funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project and the Mason Mega Rail Yard, which has ensured the efficient movement of goods through the state. Renaming this bridge is an abundantly fitting way to pay tribute to this outstanding Georgian
who spent his life bettering our state through economic opportunities like the Georgia Ports Authority system.
Additionally, the House passed House Bill 437 to require gas station employees to dispense gas to vehicles that have a special disability permit displayed when the disabled driver is not accompanied by someone who can provide adequate assistance at the gas pump. Gas stations would be required to have a working phone number that answered by an employee during the hours of operation in order for customers to request assistance. If a request is made
when a second employee is not present, the gas station would not be required to provide assistance but would be encouraged to do so when able. A decal or sticker would be affixed to each pump across the state that clearly displays the international symbol of accessibility, a blank for the gas station to fill in the phone number to reach an attendant and wording to instruct these drivers to call for assistance. This legislation would help make these necessary trips to the gas station less burdensome and more accessible to some of our disabled drivers.
House Bill 442 was also passed by the House this week, and this legislation highlights the prevalence of social media in today’s society. Currently, Georgia’s child custody laws require one or both parents to be responsible with decision-making authority for a child’s education, health, extracurricular activities and religious upbringing. If parents agree, these matters should be decided jointly, or, if there is disagreement, they must together decide how to resolve the situation. HB 442 would require parents to also include social media management in their joint
parenting plan. As technology and social media have evolved, they have become much more customary in our children’s daily lives, and this bill would allow our child custody laws to remain relevant with the ever changing technology in our world.
My colleagues and I received news from Governor Brian Kemp this week that the state is poised to expand Georgia’s COVID-19 vaccine priority list to include teachers and school staff. Starting March 8, all of Georgia’s pre-k and K-12 teachers and school staff, as well as Department of Early Care and Learning staff, will join the state’s Phase 1A+ group, which currently consists of those who are 65 and older, first responders, health care workers and staffers and residents of long-term facilities. In addition to Georgia teachers and school staff, the state will also expand vaccination access to adults with mental and developmental disabilities and their caregivers and children with complex health issues plus their caretakers. The state also recently launched four state-operated mass vaccination sites across Georgia in Bibb, Dougherty, Fulton and Habersham counties. The governor and our state’s public health leaders have taken to heart the calls to expand vaccination efforts to more Georgians and have been advocating for increased vaccine allocations from the federal government.
House Bill 149 , which would allow Subchapter “S” corporations and partnerships tomake an irrevocable decision on an annual basis to pay income taxes at the entitylevel instead of the individual shareholder or partner level; House Bill 150 , which would prohibit governmental entities from adopting any policythat prohibits the connection or reconnection of any utility service based on the typeof energy or fuel source; House Bill 152 , which would allow the Nonpublic Postsecondary EducationCommission to use alternative methods to review renewal applications to operatesubmitted by institutions that are in good standing with an accrediting agencyrecognized by the U.S. Department of Education; such alternative methods would bedeemed appropriate by the commission’s executive director; House Bill 156 , which would require utilities and state and local governmentalagencies to report cyber-attacks to the director of the Georgia EmergencyManagement and Homeland Security Agency; these reports would not be subject topublic inspection or disclosure; House Bill 161 , which would remove a provision in Georgia law that requiresdowntown development authorities to exist in perpetuity; House Bill 179 , which would update the design for an existing license platesupporting breast cancer related programs; create a specialty license plate supportingthe fight against cancer; and create a specialty license plate supporting members ofthe armed forces; House Bill 210 , which would clarify the types of vehicles that are exempt from therequirement of disclosing odometer mileage on title certificates; House Bill 218 , which would allow reciprocity for any state’s weapons carry licenseas long as the holder carries according to Georgia’s laws, and the bill would updatethe governor’s emergency powers in regards to seizing or prohibiting the possessionand sale of legal weapons and ammunition; House Bill 234 , which would be known as the “Self-funded Healthcare Plan Opt-in tothe Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act” and would allow for self-fundedhealth care plans to annually elect to participate in the Surprise Billing ConsumerProtection Act; participating plans would notify the Department of Insurance (DOI)and could join at the beginning of each year or first day of the plan, and the DOIwebsite would list these participating plans; House Bill 241 , which would allow the deduction of benefits paid from anycancellation refund of a service contract to the customer, and it would permitcontracts for the replacement of lost, stolen or inoperable key fobs to cover excesswear and use charges at the end of a lease; House Bill 245 , which would amend state law regarding fingerprint and criminalbackground checks used for the practice of podiatry by requiring satisfactory resultsfrom a fingerprint records check for new license applicants and reinstatements, notlicense renewals; House Bill 271 , which would authorize the Department of Community Health toassess one or more provider matching payments on a sub-class of ambulance servicesas defined by the Board of Community Health; House Bill 273 , which would allow local jurisdictions to enact an ordinance thatwould trigger a special election for whether the local jurisdiction should allowapplications for package stores that sell distilled spirits; House Bill 275 , which would require firefighters to submit to random drug testing atleast biannually for the first two years of being licensed or certified; House Bill 286 , which would prohibit counties and municipalities from reducing theirpolice force budgetary appropriations by more than five percent unless specifiedconditions exist; House Bill 289 , which would allow for specified exemptions, such as militaryservice, to the requisite qualifications for receiving a Class D or Class C driver’slicense in Georgia; House Bill 292 , which would remove the requirement for a member of a county boardof equalization to complete 20 hours of instruction in appraisal and equalizationprocesses and procedures during the first year following the completion of each termof office; House Bill 305 , which would change the definition of a board-recognized massagetherapy educational program to require that the program be approved by a nationalmassage therapy certifying organization or a similar entity approved by the GeorgiaBoard of Massage Therapy; continuing education for massage therapy would requirethat instructors be approved by and in good standing with a national massage therapy certifying organization; House Bill 306 , which would allow the board of directors of a corporation to holdannual and special shareholder meetings by means of remote communication unlessotherwise provided by the corporation’s by-laws or articles of incorporation; House Bill 336 , which would make changes to hemp farming laws to ensurecompliance with federal laws and regulations, including requiring prospectivegrowers and processors to submit one set of classifiable fingerprints for the purposeof conducting a search of records; House Bill 338 , which would clarify the qualifications for receiving a veterans’driver’s license; House Bill 342 , which would prohibit any person from advertising as a masterplumber or journeyman plumber without first obtaining a license from the Division ofMaster Plumbers and Journeyman Plumbers; House Bill 354 , which would require that any complaints received by the State Boardof Cemeterians be investigated within 30 days of receipt, and if that investigationfinds any potential violations of state or federal criminal law, then the board wouldprovide notice of those potential illegalities to the attorney general’s office and thelocal sheriff’s office within seven days; House Bill 362 , which would allow .30 caliber and larger guns to be used duringprimitive hunts; allow for bag limits for the Deer Management Association program;make clear hybrid varieties of different fish species are covered by Georgiaharvesting laws; House Bill 367 , which would provide the annual narcotics and drug update forSchedules I, II, III, IV, and V controlled substances to capture new synthetic opiatesand synthetic marijuana; House Bill 370 , which would provide term limits for members of joint hospitalauthorities of 12 years or three consecutive terms, including any partial term,whichever is longer; this bill would only apply to the Fulton and DeKalb Countyhospital authorities, and it would restrict these hospital authorities from utilizingrevenues to perform any power or duty delegated in a lease; House Bill 374 , which would amend Georgia law regarding exemptions from salesand use taxes by adding an exemption for sales to an authority that provides public water or sewer service; House Bill 384 , which would authorize law enforcement to issue a citation to avehicle owner, rather than the driver, in specified instances and when the vehicleowner is present at the time of the citation issuance; House Bill 395 , which would enter Georgia into the Professional CounselorsLicensure Compact if required legislation is passed in 10 total U.S. states; House Bill 409 , which would establish the Judicial Legal Defense Fund Commissionto facilitate state-funded legal representation to justices of the Supreme Court andjudges of the Court of Appeals, the Georgia State-wide Business Court and superiorcourts when such judges are sued for actions taken regarding their official duties; House Bill 449 , which would revise the “Georgia Utility Facility Protection Act” inorder to enhance the processes for location requests of underground utility facilities orinfrastructure; it also would require that 9-1-1 be contacted if an excavator damages agas or hazardous liquid pipeline; House Bill 455 , which would allow local boards of education to use small motorvehicles that seat eight passengers or less to transport students; House Bill 458 , which would require all newly appointed board members of theGeorgia Composite Medical Board to participate in training and education to supportgreater understanding of sexual misconduct, sexual boundaries and impacts of traumaand implicit bias within three months of such appointment; House Bill 488 , which would raise the minimum salary and compensation of chiefmagistrates and clerks of magistrate court; House Bill 509 , which would require every insurer delivering or issuing for deliverycomprehensive individual major medical health insurance policies in Georgia to makeat least one reasonably priced comprehensive major medical health insurance policyavailable to residents in the insurer’s approved services areas of Georgia; House Resolution 77 , which would support the creation of a state cemetery forveterans in Augusta-Richmond County; House Resolution 142 , which would create a conveyance resolution for certain stateowned properties located in Hall, Baldwin and Columbia counties; House Resolution 143 , which would authorize the granting of non-exclusiveeasements for the construction, operation and maintenance of facilities, utilities androads on state properties in the following counties: Barrow, Bartow, Bibb, Camden,Chatham, Glynn, Harris, Macon, Montgomery, Murray, Paulding, Polk, Rabun,Talbot, Troup, Walton, Ware and Washington.In addition to passing legislation the House also take time to honor and remember the lives ofnotable Georgians. Speaker David Ralston and I came to the Well of the House and recognizedthe life of Chattooga County Resident and nationally know lawyer Mr. Bobby Lee Cook. Hispassing brings sorrow but his remarkable life is a colorful chapter in the history of this greatstate. His legacy will long be remembered.As “Crossover Day” draws near, we will continue to vote on meaningful Houselegislation before we start the process of reviewing Senate bills. I encourage you to reach out tome with any comments or questions about legislation that is important to you, your family andour community. My capitol office number is 404-656-7850, and you can reach me directly viaemail at firstname.lastname@example.org.As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative for House District 12.Eddie Lumsden