Rep. Deffenbaugh: Week 13 Georgia Legislative Report

Saturday, March 17, 2018

On Thursday, March 15, my House colleagues and I completed Legislative Day 35 and our tenth week of the 2018 legislative session, and we now only have five working days remaining until Legislative Day 40, or sine die. Legislative Day 40 is the last day the House will take up business for the year, and since we only have a few days left to wrap up our legislative work, this week was extremely busy in committees, and our agendas were very full as we reviewed and passed Senate measures in the House Chamber.  

This week, the House passed a critical measure that seeks to better coordinate state health care policies in an effort to address the unique health challenges facing our state. Senate Bill 357, also known as “The Health Act,” would establish the Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the State of Georgia under the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget to streamline and coordinate all components of our state’s health care system.  

My House colleagues and I unanimously passed a measure this week that would ensure children with autism in Georgia have access to vital treatments and therapies needed to lead full and healthy lives. Senate Bill 118 would increase the age of coverage for autism spectrum disorder treatments from six-years-old to 20-years-old and would increase the coverage limit from $30,000 to $35,000 per year. Additionally, SB 118 would require insurers to provide coverage for applied behavior analysis, which is recognized as a necessary medical treatment for autism. More of Georgia’s children who are on the autism spectrum could receive the therapies, treatments and care they need to thrive. 

Elder abuse cases have risen significantly across the state in recent years, and on Thursday, March 15, the House passed a measure to address this alarming trend. Senate Bill 406 would create the Georgia Long-term Care Background Check Program, which would require elder care providers in personal care homes or other assisted living facilities to undergo comprehensive, fingerprint-based criminal background checks. This provision would apply to owners, applicants for employment and employees of personal care homes, assisted living communities, private home care providers, home health agencies, hospice care, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities or adult day cares. SB 406 is based on the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform’s recommendations, and this significant measure seeks to protect our state’s senior citizens and decrease cases of elder abuse. 

The House passed a bill to assist our service men and women on Thursday, March 15. Senate Bill 82 would allow members of the Georgia National Guard or a reserve component of the United States Armed Forces located in Georgia to be classified as a legal residents under eligibility requirements for HOPE scholarships and grants. This expansion would only apply to Georgia National Guard or reserve members who are stationed in Georgia or who list Georgia as his or her home of record. Currently, only active-duty military service members, their spouses and their dependent children are eligible to receive Georgia’s HOPE scholarships and grants, and SB 82 would allow the brave men and women who serve in the Georgia National Guard and the reserves to reap the same educational benefits as their active-duty military counterparts. 

With five legislative days remaining until we adjourn, it is more important than ever that you reach out to me to express any concerns or share any input you have regarding pending legislation. I highly value your thoughts and opinions, and I want to know what you, your family and our neighbors think about legislative matters that impact our community and our state. Please visit my Capitol office anytime. I can also be reached by phone at 404-656-0202, or by email at john.deffenbaugh@house.ga.gov.  

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative.
Rep. John Deffenbaugh




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