Evans E-Bulletin Week Eleven

This was the eleventh and final full week of session. Next Wednesday, March 29th, will be “Sine Die” aka the last day of the 2023 legislative session. 


Please note that we have changed the date of the Sine Die Town Hall from Thursday April 13th to Tuesday April 18th. See details below. 

Change of Date – Last Virtual Town Hall

We will be having our last town hall of the 2023 Legislative Session on Tuesday April 18th at 7pm. State Senator Sonya Halpern and I will bring you the latest news from the Gold Dome post-session and answer any of your questions. You can register here.  

Page Spotlight 

This week I was accompanied by Colin Durmeyer. Colin is a 7th grader at Woodward Academy. He spent Monday morning with us and is such a great and conscientious student, he said he needed to get home in the afternoon to finish his schoolwork. The future is bright!

Attempting to Compensate Those Wrongfully Convicted

This year I carried two compensation resolutions, HR 48 and HR 49, seeking to compensate Mario Stinchcomb and Michael Woolfolk, who were wrongfully convicted of a crime they did not committee and each served 18 years in prison. These resolutions passed in the House, but appear to be dead for the Session because they were tabled (along with two other compensation resolutions sponsored by other representatives) in a Senate Subcommittee last week.


I introduced these resolutions because it is the only avenue for those wrongfully convicted to potentially receive compensation for wrongful conviction. It is not a good process, and puts us out of the norm from most states, which have commissions or other ways to handle these matters. Luckily, my colleague Rep. Scott Holcomb, introduced HB 364, which would create the Wrongful Conviction Compensation Review Panel to handle these matters outside of the Legislature. This bill passed the House, but also appeared dead for the Session because it stalled after passing a Senate Subcommittee because no full Committee meetings were planned before Day 40.


But hope is alive for this legislation because on Thursday, the House stripped SB35 and now contains the contents of HB 364, the Wrongful Conviction Compensation Act. This bill creates the Wrongful Conviction Compensation Review Panel, consisting of five members detailed in the bill, which is tasked to establish a standard procedure by which persons who were wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for a crime for which they were later exonerated can receive compensation from the state under a standard formula. The bill defines exoneration for purposes of review and compensation as having a conviction reversed or vacated and the indictment dismissed; an acquittal upon retrial, or a pardon based on innocence.


To be eligible for compensation, a claimant must establish by a preponderance of the evidence to the board that they were convicted and incarcerated for a felony for which they claim innocence. They must also establish that they did not commit or suborn perjury or falsify evidence. Finally, they must have been exonerated, as defined above. The panel will determine eligibility for compensation as well as the recommended amount, which may be anywhere from $50,000 – 100,000 per year.


The evaluation process may include a hearing. Claims must be filed within three years of a formerly incarcerated person having been exonerated or pardoned. Upon determining that a claimant meets the criteria for compensation, the panel will recommend compensation to the Claims Advisory Board (Board). The Board will submit recommendations to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, who will include the compensation recommended by the board in the judicial council budget for the next fiscal year. Any claim settlement against the state or any political subdivision in civil action that a claimant has been awarded will be deducted from money recommended by the panel. I voted yes.


Stay tuned. And if you are wondering what “stripping” a bill means, watch this informative video from another of my colleagues, Rep. Teri Anulewicz here and an article here.

Voucher Bill – Tabled 

SB233 the so called “Georgia Promise Scholarship Act,” creates a voucher program that allows parents of students whose resident school rates in the bottom 25% of student achievement to utilize a fund of $6500 per student per school year. The fund could be used to pay for tuition, fees, and textbooks for core courses and eligible career, technical, and agricultural education (CTAE) courses at participating schools; up to $500/year for transportation; or any other expenses that the parent review committee approves.


While the bill has a great name and the aim is laudable, it will not help our kids or our public schools. If we want to help kids and public schools, we should lower class sizes or add literacy coaches (proven methods to improve student performance) or revamp the over 40 year old school funding formula (desperately needed). Another concern I have about this bill is that $6500 is not enough money to afford a private school and I fear schools would pop up to meet this price point to get state money without a real aim to help struggling students. We can do better than this bill.


Luckily there is a critical mass of republicans and democrats who opposed this bill, and it was tabled on Thursday. We must be vigilant in case it creeps back on to the Floor, but for now the bill appears to be headed for the wastebasket for the Session (where it belongs).

Other Votes this Week

Below is a list of legislation that passed in the House this last week. 



SB60 would make it a crime to purchase, possess, transport or advertise the sale of a used, detached catalytic converter, or any non-ferrous metal parts of a catalytic converter, unless the person is a registered secondary metals recycler, is authorized to do so and has the appropriate registration and licensing that is required by Georgia code. This bill also includes reporting requirements and guidelines to curb catalytic converter theft in Georgia. I voted yes. 


SB74 aims to bring more truth in lawyer advertising in Georgia by requiring the use of licensed attorneys and clients (or make clear when actors are used), among other requirements. I voted yes. 


SB44 would amend Georgia’s anti-gang statute in several ways; it would clarify that it is unlawful for a person to indirectly through another person recruit individuals to become a member of a criminal street gang or participate in a gang or gang activity; the punishment would increase with imprisonment between five and 20 years with a mandatory minimum of five years; if a gang member recruits a minor under 17 years old or an individual with a disability to join a criminal street gang, that person would be subject to 10 to 20 years of prison for a first offense with a mandatory minimum of 10 years.


I agree gangs are a problem in our state, but this bill misses the mark on how to address the problem. In particular, I am concerned that children will be on the receiving end of the increased penalties. This is so because typically gangs use other children to recruit new (children) members to gangs. Longer sentences for vulnerable children is not a good idea. I voted no. 



SB106 or the “Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Act,” would create a Medicaid program to provide virtual maternal health clinical services to women with high-risk pregnancies through the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) pilot home visiting program. These at-home interventions can reduce the risk of preterm birth and improve the management of various risks during pregnancies. I voted yes. 


SB164 would create licensure requirements for advanced practice registered nurses and changes the definition of “advanced practice registered nurse” (APRN) to only a person licensed by the Georgia Board of Nursing who is either a certified nurse midwife, certified nurse practitioner, certified registered nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist or clinical nurse specialist in psychiatric/mental health or a recognized APRN before June 30, 2006. This bill would make it a misdemeanor to practice as an APRN without a license and add anesthesiologist assistant to the Georgia Composite Medical Board and the Physician Assistants Advisory Committee. This bill is also the Anesthesiologist Assistant Act and would create the licensure process and regulation of anesthesiologist assistants through the Georgia Composite Medical Board. A similar bill was passed by the House earlier this session. I voted yes. 


SB197 or the “Health Care Practitioners Truth and Transparency Act,” which would amend the Consumer Information and Awareness Act to prohibit an advertisement or identification by a health care practitioner that includes deceptive or misleading terms or false representation or references to medical titles that they do not hold. The bill would require advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to verbally identify themselves during each patient interaction and clearly state they are not a medical doctor even if they hold a doctorate degree and identify themselves with the title “doctor.” I voted yes. 


SB47 would add the use of electronic smoking or vaping devices to the Georgia Smokefree Air Act of 2005. This bill provides that if you cannot smoke in an area, you also cannot vape there. I voted yes. 


SB1 would permanently prohibit state and local governments from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of providing services, accessing a facility, issuing licenses or permits, performing duties and other matters. I see no reason for the state to tie the hands of local governments and state agencies in this way. We don’t know what the future holds and this preemption is potentially dangerous. I voted no. 


Regulated Industries

SB73 would allow citizens on the “Do Not Call List” who receive more than one unauthorized telephone solicitation within a year to bring action against the person/entity that made the solicitations and/or the person/entity the telephone solicitations were made on behalf of for injunctive relief and damages. I voted yes. 


SB95 relates to tire disposal restrictions and fees and would require tire distributors to collect $1.00 per tire sold instead of retail dealers. This bill would also add an individual from the tire industry to the list of representatives considered by the governor for appointment to the Recycling Market Development Council. I voted yes. 



SB45 or A.J.’s Law, would provide for the care of students diagnosed with epilepsy or a seizure disorder by training school nurses and other school employees on proper treatment protocols. A parent or guardian would be required to provide the school with an annual seizure action plan for their child with specific instructions on what to do in emergency situations. I voted yes. 


SB86 expands access to the HOPE grant program to high school students who are already preparing themselves to join our state’s workforce by earning college credit before graduation. This bill would allow eligible dual enrollment students to access HOPE grant funds for eligible career, technical and agricultural education (CTAE) courses, regardless of whether a student has reached the maximum credit hour cap to receive these funds. To ensure this grant funding is put to good use, the Georgia Student Finance Commission would collaborate with the Technical College System of Georgia to collect and report certain data related to the dual enrollment program to track the program’s impact. I voted yes. 


SB204 would require accrediting agencies that operate in Georgia to focus on student achievement, academic success and fiscal solvency of schools and school systems. The State Board of Education would establish evaluation criteria, procedures and other requirements for recognized accrediting agencies. I voted yes. 


Governmental Affairs

SB129 would require employers, upon reasonable notice, to provide time off for employees to vote during the period of advance voting. This bill would also allow the State Election Board to appoint members of county election boards to performance review boards, clarify the language that must be included on any absentee ballot application that is mailed to an elector by a nongovernmental entity, as well as extend the time limit from 10 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. for specified reporting requirements for election superintendents following the close of the polls on election day. The bill would also clarify the auditing requirements for local election superintendents following specified elections. I voted yes. 


SB213 would prohibit local governments from adopting or enforcing any zoning decisions or other regulations on a new manufactured or mobile home that were not imposed on the preexisting home under certain circumstances and subject to specified exceptions. I voted yes. 


Public Safety

SB218 would allow state identification cards to be issued to inmates after they have completed a term of incarceration. The Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Georgia Department of Driver Services would work together to process these ID cards, which would look like any other state-issued ID and would not include any stigmatizing information about their status as a past offender. Additionally, when an inmate is released from a DOC facility, the individual could request documentation regarding programs he or she completed at the request of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles or the DOC. These individuals could also request documentation if they have obtained a state-approved high school equivalency diploma, other educational degrees and their institutional work record, including skills obtained through job training. I voted yes. 


SB93 would prohibit the use of certain foreign-owned social media platforms on state-owned devices. This ban would only apply to social media platforms that are owned or operated by a foreign adversary or by a company which is domiciled in, has its headquarters in or is organized under the laws of a foreign adversary. The prohibition would also stand when a foreign adversary has substantial control over the content moderation practices of the platform or if the platform uses software or an algorithm that is controlled or monitored by a foreign adversary. Gov. Kemp previously issued a memo to state agencies in December to prohibit employees from using TikTok on their state-owned devices, such as cellphones or laptops, and this legislation would make his ban an official law. I voted yes. 



SB61 permanently allows Georgia’s private sector workers to continue to utilize their paid sick leave to care for a family member in need. This legislation would remove the end date of the current provision under the Family Care Act that requires employers to allow employees to use up to five days per calendar year of earned sick leave for the care of an immediate family member who is ill. The current law was set to expire this July, and this bill would ensure that eligible Georgians can continue to take their earned time off to take care of their sick family members. I voted yes. 



SB220 or the “Georgia Farmland Conservation Act,” would create the Georgia Farmland Conservation Trust Fund to provide matching grant awards to qualified easement holders to support farmland conservation, active farming and food production or to purchase agricultural conservation easement. I voted yes. 


Juvenile Justice

SB135 would clarify that genetic testing required by the court must be administered through a method that is reasonably relied upon by experts that are professionally accredited. This bill includes requirements and a process for admitting genetic testing results, including parentage results, into evidence. I voted yes. 


Last, but certainly not least, my daughter joined me this week to take a photo with the national championship trophies. I look forward to standing next to three of them next year. GO DAWGS!

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Help your neighbors stay informed and encourage them to subscribe to our newsletter. You can check the boundaries of District 57 here to find friends who may want to keep up with the goings on under the Gold Dome. Anyone (in the district or not) can subscribe to this newsletter by visiting my website and filling out the form “Join us, sign up for email updates” on the home page. Each one reach one!

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