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GHF legislative update: February 12

Legislative Update: Week 5

In this week’s update:

  • Action Alert: Ask Senate Judicary Committee members to vote “Yes” on HB 404 at today’s hearing! 
  • Budget update
  • Legislation GHF is keeping up with
  • Advocacy events for your calendar
  • GHF’s got you covered this session!

Action Alert: Before today’s hearing, urge committee members to support HB 404

Georgians deserve quality housing! 

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear HB 404: Safe at Home Act  today at 4pm. Please call or email committee members and ask them to vote YES on HB 404, with no weakening amendments.

The bill will provide protections for Georgia renters by ensuring: 

  • Residential rental properties are fit for human habitation;
  • Cooling as a utility cannot be shut off after an order for eviction has been issued by the court;
  • Allows a tenant three (3) business days following a written eviction notice to pay money that is due prior to a lawsuit seeking to evict them may be filed with the court; and
  • Limiting landlords from requiring a security deposit that exceeds two months’ rent.

These protections are necessary to ensure Georgia renters have more housing stability for themselves and their families. Housing is a basic necessity that is closely tied to a person’s health. To live healthy lives, Georgians need stable, affordable, healthy housing. When people experience housing instability, they can suffer more from health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and disabilities. School attendance, learning, and work attendance can be compromised by unhealthy housing situations.

Ahead of today’s hearing, contact one or more of the following Senate Judiciary Committee members and ask them to support HB 404. Tell them why you support the bill and how housing & health are related. 

Bo Hatchett:  404-651-7745  |  Mike Hodges: 404-463-1309

Bill Cowsert: 404- 463-1366  |  John F. Kennedy: 404-656-6578

Ed Setzler:  404-656-0256  |  Ben Watson: 404-656-7880 

If you don’t know what to say when you reach out, use this example: “My name is ________. (If true: I live and vote in your district.) Please support House Bill 404 when it comes to the Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill would provide fair housing protections to families, including by making sure all rental units are safe and healthy. This is especially important to help keep Georgia kids in school, out of foster care, and healthy in their communities. Thank you!”

(Want to know more about how housing & health are connected? Take a look at GHF’s Healthy Housing page.) 

Legislation GHF is tracking

Budget Update: The House passed its version of what is known as the “little budget” last Wednesday (HB 915). Please see our previous budget summary (from January 22) for a full overview of key health items in the AFY2024 budget. Here are some notable changes that were made by the House:

  • The House added $200,000 for statewide health care specialty assessments to help look for gaps in physician specialties (neurology, psychiatry, rheumatology, and endocrinology).
  • An additional $475,000 for the Georgia Housing Voucher program which helps people with serious and persistent mental illness find safe, healthy housing. This is a GHF priority. 
  • $2M for a pilot to try transportation alternatives for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. This pilot program will aim to free up police and other law enforcement from spending hours transporting Georgians in crisis to the emergency room or other facility.

Rural Tax Credit for Hospitals 

HB 363, introduced by Rep. John LaHood, would make some revisions to the Rural Hospital Tax Credit program. It increases the tax credit limit for contributions by corporate donors from $10M to $25M. The bill also clarifies that if contributions exceed the maximum amount allowable to an individual hospital, the rest of the contribution should be directed to other rural providers.

The House Ways & Means committee passed HB 363 on Feb. 1st. It has not yet been scheduled for a vote by the full House. 

Georgia Commission on Maternal and Infant Health 

HB 1037, introduced by Rep. Lauren Daniel, would create the Georgia Commission on Maternal and Infant Health. The Georgia Department of Public Health would provide administrative support to the commission, which would consist of 14 members. Six members would be appointed by the Governor, three appointed by the Lt. Governor and three appointed by the Speaker of the House. The governor’s appointees would include an obstetrician, either a pediatrician or neonatologist, a midwife and a representative of a perinatal facility. 

Georgia has some of the worst rates of maternal mortality in the country, and black women are three times more likely to die than white women from pregnancy-related complications.

This commission is tasked with gathering different perspectives about the state of perinatal health care in Georgia to inform policy and programs that improve perinatal care in Georgia.

HB 1037 passed the House Public Health committee on Jan. 31st, and is scheduled for a full vote by the House today.  

Housing protections 

HB 1051, introduced by Rep. Rhonda Burnough, will provide protections for senior and disabled individuals from mortage foreclosures. This bill aims to avoid an increase in foreclsoures for these individuals, due to missed payments and other means.  

HB 1059, introduced by Rep. Sandra Scott, would provide programs to avoid residential eviction for for disabled and low-income individuals. A landlord would be required to notify their tenant (within an eviction notice) of the opportunity to participate in an eviction diversion program within seven days after receiving the eviction notice. The tenant could take advantage of this opportunity to avoid having to move and having an eviction on their record.  

HB 1051 has been referred to the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs committee and HB 1059 has been referred to the House Judiciary committee. 

Supporting caregivers and preventing harm to people in need of care

Rep. Sam Park introduced HB 1057, the “Support Georgia Family Caregivers Act.” The bill would change what caregiving expenses can be counted towards the qualified caregiving expense tax credit. The bill clarifies the allowable expenses and increases the tax credit from $150 to $1000.  These expenses would help to imrpove the care of these members and ensure that this member is able to remain mobile, safe, and independent.  

Additionally, SB 456,  introduced by Sen. Brian Strickland, allows Georgia’s Central Caregiver Registry to be used to screen people who are applying to be caregivers of people with disabilities. The Registry was originally created so that family members or guardians of elderly Georgians could see if potential caregiver workers had criminal backgrounds or other safety concerns that might put their loved one in danger. 

HB 1057 has been referred to the House Ways & Means committee and SB 456 has been referred to the Senate Health and Human Services committee. 

CORRECTION: Early Testing for Preeclampsia

The Georgia Preeclampsia Biomarker Testing Act of 2024, or HB 1081, introduced by Rep. Darlene Taylor, would require Medicaid and private insurance plans (only those regulated by the state) to cover preeclampsia biomarker testing during a pregnant person’s first prenatal visit. 

Preeclampsia is diagnosed by persistent high blood pressure that develops for the first time after mid-pregnancy or right after delivery. A test approved by the FDA just last year can predict whether the person will develop severe preeclampsia in the next two weeks. The availability of these novel biomarker tests will allow caregivers to better manage and potentially improve outcomes for both mothers and their newborns.

HB 1081 was referred to the House Public Health committee

Advocate with us at the Capitol!

Check out these advocacy events: 

Each week during the legislative session, we’ll highlight legislative advocacy days hosted by partner groups. These are great opportunities for you to participate in the lawmaking process by meeting your legislators and speaking up about important health issues. Upcoming:

If you have an upcoming advocacy event that you’d like included, please contact Alex McDoniel at amcdoniel@healthyfuturega.org

GHF has you covered

Stay up-to-date with the legislative session

GHF will be monitoring legislative activity on a number of critical consumer health care topics. Along with our weekly legislative updates and timely analysis of bills, here are tools to help you stay in touch with health policy under the Gold Dome.

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