Keeping Current at the Capitol – Week of January 21, 2020


Setting the Tone: Remarks from the Governor and Speaker of the House

At Eggs and Issues, House Speaker David Ralston shared two key pieces of information during his speech.  One is that preventing maternal mortality will remain a priority of the House as they review the budget and legislation this session. The Speaker also shared that he would not set the last day of the legislative session until the joint-budget process was completed. The House and Senate must work to approve a supplemental budget following the release of the Governor’s proposed budget cuts for FY20 and FY21

After Budget Week, the Legislative Calendar has been set as follows:

January 27 – Day 5
January 28 – Day 6 
January 29 – Day 7
January 30 – Day 8
January 31 – Day 9
February 3 – Day 10
February 4 – Day 11
February 5 – Day 12
February 6 – Day 13
February 10 – Day 14

The Governor, Brian Kemp, gave his State of the State address last week before the House and Senate. He shared his priorities which included support for Balanced Billing legislation. Such legislation has languished during the past five sessions. HMHBGA supports increased transparency for families. It is exciting to bring home a new baby! It is not exciting to receive a surprise medical bill weeks later for thousands due to undisclosed out-of-network services provided during the birth. We will monitor that legislation once it has been filed.

Welcome to Budget Week

We are thankful to see that the funding for the Maternal Mental Health Program and Rural Perinatal Satellites remained in the Governor’s budget that was released on Thursday of last week. We will continue to monitor these line items and the full maternal and infant health program budget as we move into the joint House and Senate budget review process this week. 

The House and Senate will hold joint budget hearings in CAP 341 this week on the following schedule: 

  • Tuesday, January 21, 9:00AM
  • Wednesday, January 22, 9:00AM
  • Thursday, January 23, 8:30AM

You can find the full agenda and schedule here. If you would like to watch the live stream, you can do so by going clicking here

The health-related programs will present on Thursday, January 23:

  • 8:15 AM – Dept. of Human Services & Division of Family and Children Services
  • 9:15 AM – Dept. of Public Health
  • 9:45 AM – Board of Health Care Workforce
  • 10:15 AM – Dept. of Community Health
  • 11:00 AM – Office of Insurance & Fire Safety
  • 11:15 AM – Dept. of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities

2020 HMHBGA Legislative & Policy Agenda

House Legislation

HB 577 – Working for Two (Park Cannon, D-Atlanta) Would require certain accommodations in the workplace for pregnant and postpartum women, including, but not be limited to, more frequent or longer breaks, time off to recover from childbirth, acquisition or modification of equipment, seating, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, job restructuring, light duty, break time and private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk, assistance with manual labor, or modified work schedules. 

HB 693– Expanding Medicaid to Improve Health Outcomes for New Mothers Act (Renitta Shannon, D-Decatur) Would allow the Department of Community Health to extend Pregnancy Medicaid coverage to new mothers from 60 days postpartum to one full year postpartum from the date of delivery.

HB 717 – Georgia License Midwife Act (Karen Mathiak, R-Griffin) Would create an Advisory Board for Licensed Midwives which would issue licenses to eligible applicants possessing national certification by the North American Registry of Midwives as a certified professional midwife. 

HB 719 – Modernization of HIV Laws (Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs) Would update the current crimes and offenses statutes related to HIV transmission. Specifically decriminalizes the unintentional transmission of HIV.

HB 731 – Increase Excise Tax on Tobacco Products (Ron Stephens, R-Savannah) Would raise the tax on full-sized cigars from 23% of the wholesale cost price to 42%. Would raise the tax on a 20-pack of cigarettes from $0.37 cents per pack to $1.87 per pack. Would raise the tax on loose or smokeless tobacco from 10% of the wholesale cost price to 42%. 

HB 745 – Georgia Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act (“Able” Mable Thomas, D-Atlanta)  Would mandate that every perinatal facility in Georgia implement an evidence based implicit bias program for all health care professionals involved in the perinatal care of patients. 

HB 746 – Women’s Right to Immediate Access Act (Dar’shun Kendrick, D-Lithonia) Would amend the “Woman’s Right to Know Act,” by allowing a pregnant woman to decide not to review the materials provided by said Act, or to review the heartbeat or fetal monitoring as prescribed by the Act. 

Senate Legislation

SR 263 – Senate Emergency Medical Services Study Committee (Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga) Would establish a Senate study committee to conduct a  review of emergency medical services safety standards, accreditation requirements, zoning for 9-1-1 response, and updates to the regulations and Title 31, relating to Georgia Code requirements for emergency medical services. 

SB 298 – Protections and Education for Minors Regarding Smoking & Vaping (Renee Unterman, R-Buford) Would increase penalties for selling vaping products to minors, set the age of purchase for all tobacco and vaping products to 21, and restrict certain flavors and marketing imagery as it pertains to the sale of tobacco and vaping products.

SB 303 – Georgia Right to Shop Act (Ben Watson, R-Savannah) Would provide for the disclosure of certain pricing information through insurer websites to allow consumers to compare prices on non-emergency healthcare services.

SR 435 – Increase the Excise Tax on Tobacco Products (Randy Robertson, R-Cataula) Urges the House of Representatives to send the Senate a bill that increases Georgia’s cigarette tax to at least the national average, so that the members of the Senate can debate and consider  a tax increase to offset indigent health care costs.

SR 520 – Senate Study Committee on Midwifery Practices (Lester Jackson, D-Savannah) Would create a Senate study committee in the off-session to review midwifery practices.

SR 545 – Birth Safety Awareness Day (Elena Parent, D-Atlanta) Would recognize March 16, 2020, as Birth Safety Awareness Day at the state capitol in recognition of Kason Choice and Robin Rohe-Oji, two children in recovery from severe birth injuries, and their families.

Helpful Reminder: ‘SB’ or ‘HB’ refer to Senate and House BILLS. ‘SR’ or ‘HR’ refer to Senate and House RESOLUTIONS. Bills are used to propose changes or additions to existing statutory law, while resolutions usually express legislative opinion or recognition on some matter and do not have the effect of law. 


Join HMHBGA, in collaboration with the March of Dimes, for this special opportunity for maternal and infant health advocates and stakeholders to hear from State policymakers about what they plan to tackle in the year ahead. Georgia’s legislative leaders will discuss what maternal and infant healthcare issues will be addressed in 2020 and how these issues may impact Georgia’s families. This breakfast will take place January 29 from 7:30 am – 3:00 pm at the Central Presbyterian Church across the street from the capitol (201 Washington Street SW). 
7:30AM: Registration
8:00AM: Awards Presentation
8:20AM: Policy Discussion with Legislators
8:50AM: Challenge Speaker
9:20AM: Short Break
9:30AM: Training-How to Advocate with Your Representatives at the Georgia State Capitol
1:00PM: Maternal Mortality Awareness Day at the Capitol (Rotunda South)

Join us and Georgia’s leading advocates to prevent maternal mortality as we educate legislators on the prevalence and root causes of maternal mortality in our State, as well as how we can prevent maternal and morbidity through policy intervention. We will be displaying Mother’s Day cards to raise awareness about Georgia’s maternal mortality crisis and speaking with legislators regarding policies and budget priorities that will move the needle on maternal and infant health in Georgia. This event will take place at the Georgia State Capitol (Rotunda South) at 206 Washington St SW, Atanta, GA, 30334. 

Find Your Legislator Here