Rep. Shaw's legislation receives House approval


Last week, the House of Representatives voted to approve several pieces of legislation that I co-sponsored. These included:

• HB 645, which would allow insurers to offer policyholders electronic policy processing and information dissemination but require a paper copy be provided to the insured upon request.
• HB 773, which provides exceptions for shooting ranges, safety courses and licensed firearms dealers to the state law making it illegal to fire a gun or pistol near a public highway or street.
• HB 840, which would provide clarification under the insurance licensure law that the Department of Insurance has the authority to enforce its requirements on license holders.
• HB 849, which would clarify that an excess wear and use waiver is not considered insurance.

All of these bills now go to the Senate for its consideration, along with legislation that would prevent employees of private companies that provide third-party educational institution services from receiving unemployment insurance benefits during breaks in the school year. HB 714 is aimed at strengthening Georgia’ unemployment insurance system following a ruling by the federal government last year that Georgia law did not cover unemployment insurance for private companies as it relates to educational institution workers.

Public schools, administrators, teachers or employees are not affected by the legislation. It would only apply to the third-party vendors that some school systems in Georgia choose to supply student transportation, school meals and other services. Some of these private companies actually encourage and train their educational institution employees to file for unemployment benefits during breaks in the school calendar, at a cost to the taxpayers estimated at $8 million annually.

Private companies’ educational institution employees would still be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits if they are not given reasonable assurance their position will be available to them at the end of the temporary break or if the private company does not rehire them at the end of the break.

Also last week, House members voted to approve: HB 477, which would allow any member of the Judicial Retirement System who has not withdrawn his or her benefits to transfer those credits into the Employees’ Retirement System; HB 646, which would delete the “full-time chief magistrate” definition relating to the Magistrates Retirement Fund of Georgia; HB 719, which would establish that all local option sales tax distribution certificates filed between June 4, 2010, and Oct. 18, 2013 are valid, in response to a court ruling involving a dispute between Turner County and the City of Ashburn over certain certificates; HB 741, which would direct the Environmental Protection Division director to require any sludge land permit applicant to provide written verification that the proposed facility complies with applicable zoning or land use ordinances; HB 835, which would add certain substances to the list of Schedule 1 controlled substances; and HB 877, which would allow local authorities to establish a plan for the use of motorized carts and other personal transportation vehicles to safely operate on public paths and roadways.

Feb. 11 was the 21st legislative day of the 2014 session of the General Assembly, which was interrupted by last week’s winter storm. With less than half of the session remaining, lawmakers still have a full agenda of issues to address before final adjournment March 20.

They include the $20.8 billion annual state budget for fiscal year 2015, legislation to authorize the use of a certain form of medicinal marijuana to treat seizure disorders, the Safe Carry Protection Act for licensed gun owners, expansion of the HOPE Grant to pay full tuition for high-achieving technical college students and Gov. Nathan Deal’s criminal justice reform plan to assist the transition of criminal offenders into productive-law abiding citizens upon their release from incarceration.

March 3, the 30th legislative day, is the deadline for legislation to pass either the House or the Senate in time for it to be considered by the other chamber this year.

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