Keeping Current @ the Capitol – Week of January 18, 2021


First Week of Session

This week the Georgia General Assembly convened for the 2021 legislative session. All legislators were sworn into the House and Senate and freshman legislators began their first week at the Capitol. The Senate assigned leaders and members for their committees which can be found here.

Governor Brian Kemp delivered his State of the State address before the House and Senate on Thursday, January 14. He shared his priorities, which included the following: 

  • Significant budget increase for the state’s Medicaid programs
  • The restoration of K-12 funds that were cut last year 
  • High-speed internet access for rural communities

Governor Kemp also stated that Georgia will not be facing budget cuts this year! You can read more on the State of the State address here.

Preparing for Budget Week

Joint Appropriations Hearings will be held beginning today, January 19 at 9:00AM. You can find the full agenda here and watch here. Health related agencies will present on the following dates and times:

January 19: 10:00AM – Department of Public Health 
January 21: 8:05AM – Department of Human Services
January 21: 8:30AM – Department of Family and Children Services
January 21: 9:00AM – Department of Community Health 
January 21: 10:00AM – Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities 

Last year, we were thankful to the see the restoration of the following maternal health programs that were originally up for budget cuts: $2 million for Maternal Mortality Prevention $1.05 million for Maternal Mental Health Program $500,000 for Morehouse School of Medicine Center for Maternal Health Equity $60,000 restored for HMHBGA Information & Referral Services 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. 

Now Live: Project 236

HMHBGA is excited to launch Project 236, an advocacy tool that can be used to understand the state of maternal and infant health in your legislative district! Outcomes include rates of preterm birth, low birthweight, infant mortality, and prenatal care inadequacy. In this age of virtual advocacy, we hope that this can be used as a way to advocate for improved maternal and infant health in your own backyard.

We encourage you to engage with your legislators on why investment in maternal and infant health is necessary for the health of Georgia’s families. You can access the fact sheet for your district here.

Advocacy in a Virtual World & Beyond

Join us on February 18 from 11AM-12:30PM. HMHBGA, ​in partnership with the March of Dimes, will hold a​n educational session (via Zoom) on how to advocate for maternal and infant health policies in a virtual age. Things may look different this year and we want to make sure advocates’ voices are being heard! Attendees will be equipped with the tools to uplift policy priorities that are important to them throughout the session.

You will also hear from legislators (pre-recorded) describing how they ​plan to address maternal and infant healthcare issues in 2021 and how these issues may impact Georgia’s families. Want to submit a question for our pre-recorded legislative panel? You can do so here


Legislation to Watch

The items below are bills we are monitoring throughout the session related to maternal, infant, child, and general health. Legislation on this list is not necessarily endorsed by HMHBGA. 

HMHBGA 2021 Policy Agenda

House Legislation
HB 9 – Telehealth Services in Schools
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would require the Department of Education to develop guidelines for the use of telehealth services in public schools for mental health and behavior health services. 

HB 11 – Safe Patient Limits Act
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would limit the number of patients that may be assigned to a registered professional nurse in specified situations in hospitals. 

HB 38 – Repeal Sterilization Procedures 
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would repeal certain provisions related to the performance of reproductive sterilization procedures. 

HB 41 – Health Benefit Plan Network Access and Adequacy Act
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would increase consumer access to health care by improving network adequacy and under certain circumstances charge out-of-network services at in-network rates. 

HB 49 – Mental Health Parity Act 
(Shelly Hutchinson, D – Snellville) Would require mental health substance use services to be treated in line with other health insurance claims. 

HB 54 – Menstrual Hygiene Education
(Debra Bazemore, D – South Fulton) Would provide instruction on best practices and risks associated with tampons during sex education and AIDS prevention instruction in core curriculum. 

HB 57 – Breastfeeding in Penal Institutions 
(Sandra Scott, D – Rex) Would provide policies for breast milk storage and the breastfeeding of a newborn, require prenatal and postpartum care, and require the provision of breast pumps in penal institutions. 

HB 58 – Georgia Women’s Care Act
(Kim Schofield, D – Atlanta) Would revise provisions related to the arrests of pregnant women, require pregnancy testing upon detention, and enact delayed sentencing for postpartum female inmates. 

HB 72 – New Mothers Medicaid Expansion Act
(Carolyn Hugley, D – Columbus) Would extend Pregnancy Medicaid to 12 months after delivery. 

Senate Legislation
To date, no relevant Senate legislation has been introduced.