Evans E-Bulletin Week Eight

We had an eventful week this week with Crossover Day on Thursday. We were at the Capitol until almost midnight, passing dozens of bills. Next week we will be shifting our focus on the senate bills that have crossed over as they are assigned to their respective committees.

Town Hall Thursday! Register Now!

We will be having our second town hall of the 2024 Legislative Session on March 7th, at 7pm! State Senator Sonya Halpern and I will bring you the latest news from the Gold Dome post-Crossover Day and answer any of your questions. Please register here for this virtual event.

Joining Local Leaders for Townhall Wednesday

Representative Saira Draper has been doing in-person town halls for House District 90 this year to provide updates on the 2024 legislative session and have Q&A with elected officials and community leaders. You can catch the next one on Wednesday at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center on Briarcliff Road, Atlanta on March 6th at 6:30-8 p.m. I’ll be there along with other local leaders. You can register here

Killer Mike!

On Tuesday, we honored Atlanta’s own, “Killer Mike” with a proclamation for sweeping all the rap categories at this year’s Grammy Awards, winning three statues for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance. It was an honor to greet him. His music has been my go-to pump up music for years!

Republicans vote to defund the police

On Thursday, I spoke against HB1105 which would require that Georgia law enforcement officials contact and work with ICE when they arrest undocumented persons, and if they do not do so, then they lose their funding. The law currently authorizes Georgia law enforcement officials to work with ICE but does not require it (as HB 1105 would).


I am against this bill because it attempts to tell law enforcement officials what to prioritize. I trust law enforcement to decide how to prioritize personnel time. Given that citizens are twice as likely to commit violent crimes than undocumented persons, I do not mind if law enforcement declines to coordinate with ICE to detain someone who ran a stop sign or had a busted taillight and instead keeps police on the streets to patrol and answer calls regarding violent crime. This bill is an ineffective way to prevent crime because of the small impact it would have on the crimes being committed in our state. We should be prioritizing legislation that really targets the issues in our communities, such as restricting firearms from homes when a protective order is obtained against a violent partner. You can hear more of my remarks below.

Protecting Our Pastimes

On Monday, I spoke against HB1172 which would place in jeopardy the right to make use of river beds when passing through navigable waters to hunt or fish. Last year we passed a law to make clear that everyone has a right to make use of navigable waters even if the stream bead is privately owned. We did so by invoking the public trust doctrine, which provides that any private land ownership along our streams, for example, is owned subject to the public’s right to use those streams.


HB 1172’s stated purpose is to preserve the public’s right to use streams, but without reference to the “public trust doctrine” because of (what I believe is) an unfounded concern that property owners could be opened up to lawsuits on how they use their properties. To eliminate any fear, the legislation seeks to remove reference to the public trust doctrine. I’m not opposed to that singular change, but the legislation goes much further. This bill specifically carves out the public’s right to the water in navigable streams but not the stream bed, which is crucial to fishermen because you typically cannot fish a stream without making use of the stream bed. You can hear my remarks below.

A win for gun safety!

This week we passed HB971 which provides a tax credit for firearm safe handling instructional courses and firearm secure storage devices. The tax credit cannot exceed the amount of the eligible expenses or $300, whichever is less. Safe gun storage is something we can all agree on!

Other Bills Passed in the House this Week

Regulated Industries

HB880 would allow the spouses of service members to continue practicing their jobs without a Georgia professional license in certain circumstances. To qualify, the spouse would be required to hold a current license from another state and be in good standing in that state, submit an expedited license by endorsement application along with the service member’s military orders, which could be filed prior to relocation to Georgia, as well as be employed by an in-state employer. If the license by endorsement is not granted within 30 days after the application is submitted, the spouse could still work for the in-state employer without being licensed. However, if the spouse is denied an expedited license by endorsement, he or she would no longer qualify to practice the occupation in this state. I voted yes.


HB1260 would be known as the ‘Georgia Nicotine Vapor Products Directory Act.’ The bill would require the attorney general, in consultation with the Department of Revenue (DOR), to develop a directory for registrations of vapor nicotine products, which would be defined as those products already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and those products that have filed applications with the FDA and are pending. After 30 days, it would be unlawful to sell the product if it is not on the directory. After a fourth violation of any quantity, the license of the dealer or distributor would be revoked. I voted yes. 


HB1125 would remove the ability of the state Department of Labor to offer exemptions to the minimum wage laws. If a company currently utilizes a federal certificate, then that company must pay individuals with disabilities at least half of the minimum wage between July 1, 2025, and June 30, 2026. Starting on July 1, 2026, those employers would not be able to utilize those certificates to pay individuals with disabilities less than the minimum wage. I voted yes. 


HB1339 would revise the requirements for certificate of need for new institutional health services and updates the exemptions from certificate of need requirements. This bill also creates the Comprehensive Health Coverage Commission, which is to advise on issues related to access and quality of healthcare for Georgia’s low-income and uninsured populations. I voted yes.



HB451 would require public entities to offer additional, illness-specific insurance to first responders diagnosed with work-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). By providing supplemental insurance coverage for first responders grappling with occupational PTSD, the legislation would acknowledge the sacrifices and challenges these individuals face in protecting the community. Ensuring adequate support and financial resources for those on the front lines would improve their mental health and resilience and would also promote the overall security and welfare of Georgia’s citizens. I voted yes. 



HB1090 broadens the tax credit for contributions to foster child support organizations by including contributions made by “business enterprises,” specifically defined as insurance companies or the headquarters of such companies subject to the applicable tax law. Qualified expenditures now include wraparound and mentorship services for justice involved youth. Although the total aggregate credits under the law remain capped at $20 million, if this limit is not reached, the tax commissioner must pre-approve, deny, or prorate additional requested amounts on a first-come, first-served basis. The state revenue commissioner is authorized to share information to efficiently administer this code section for the purpose of tax credit administration when another state agency has authority to administer the tax credits. I voted yes. 


HB1182 removes certain low income housing from full credit eligibility through the Georgia affordable housing tax credit program. Now is not the time to move any tax credits away from low income housing. I voted no.



HB1116 would amend current law relating to tax credits for the rehabilitation of historic structures to extend the sunset for the credit for residential historic structures to January 1, 2035. After January 1, 2029, no credits related to this program would be issued for certified structures other than historic homes. The maximum aggregate amount of credits would be increased from $30 million to $60 million for certified structures other than historic homes. The bill would provide that if the credit allowed exceeds the total tax otherwise payable by the taxpayer for that year, the taxpayer may apply any excess credit until either the full amount is used or the expiration of the fifth taxable year after the certified rehabilitation was completed. I voted yes. 


HB1180 would amend current law relating to income tax credits for film, gaming, video or digital productions to make changes to the program’s structure as follows: the bill would amend the definition of “base investment” as funds invested and expended by a production company on expenses incurred in the state and directly used in a single state certified production. This bill would establish an aggregate base investment of $10 million for all state certified productions for a production company to qualify for the credit, in addition to the existing base investment requirement of $500,000 for a single production.  Conditions for which a credit may be transferred or sold would be amended, including setting a maximum amount for transfers or sales to be limited annually to 2.5 percent of the governor’s revenue estimate for the related fiscal year. If the annual limit is exceeded, the commissioner of the Department of Revenue would allow any unused credit that may be transferred or sold to be utilized in the next calendar year. I voted no because I think lowering or restricting any tax credits available for our thriving film industry sends the wrong message. 


HB1197 would amend current law relating to revitalization zone tax credits to define a “certified historic residential structure owner or investor” as a person who owns or acquires and develops a historic residential structure within a designated revitalization zone or who has been certified by the Department of Community Affairs commissioner as eligible to receive the credit based on certain criteria. The bill would define a “historic residential structure” as one that is located within a revitalization zone designated as a historic district pursuant to the Georgia Historic Preservation Act or the National Register of Historic Places, individually designated as a local, state or national historic landmark or is at least 50 years old and provides more than one residential unit for lease. The bill would allow the commissioners of the Department of Community Affairs and the Department of Economic Development to extend a designation of a revitalization zone for two additional years if the zone has demonstrated success. The bill would provide that an area can be redesignated as a revitalization zone if two years have passed since its expiration, and that no new designations would be made after 2032. HB 1197 would require that the feasibility study of potential revitalization zones include the housing needs which can be supported in the targeted area. The Department of Revenue commissioner would be authorized to share aggregate information with the Department of Community Affairs commissioner on qualified rehabilitation expenditures and job tax credits claimed for each revitalization zone each year for reporting purposes. I voted yes. 




HB827 provides police powers to the Agriculture Commissioner to enforce laws under the criminal code that fall under the Department of Agriculture’s jurisdiction. The bill also increases the penalty for livestock theft. Any individual convicted of livestock theft has committed a felony and must be sentenced to 2-15 years in prison and pay a fine of $10,000. Theft of livestock where the fair market value of such livestock is $100 or less would also be increased from a misdemeanor to an aggravated misdemeanor. I voted yes. 


HB1267 would provide enabling legislation for creating the Georgia Tax Court, subject to ratification of a constitutional amendment by voters at the November 2024 general election. We have a Tax Court currently, but it is an executive agency, rather than part of the judicial system where it should be. The Georgia Civil Practice Act would govern proceedings before the Georgia Tax Court, and trials in proceedings before the court would be without a jury. A small claims division of the court would be established, with court judges sitting as judges of that division. A taxpayer may elect to have the small claims division have jurisdiction over their case, provided the amount in controversy is less than a threshold amount determined by court rules. Additional conforming language related to moving from the Georgia Tax Tribunal to the Georgia Tax Court is also included in the bill. I voted yes.


HR598 would propose an amendment to the Constitution to allow the Georgia Tax Court to exercise judicial power in the state, with the court exercising state-wide jurisdiction. Georgia Tax Court judges would serve four-year terms and be appointed by the governor subject to approval by the House and Senate Judiciary committees. I voted yes. 


HB910 would require a commercial entity to use a reasonable age verification method before allowing access to a public website that contains a substantial portion of material that is harmful to minors and would hold that commercial entity liable for damages and a fine of up to $10,000 per violation if it would fail to perform reasonable age verification, namely that the individual would be at least 18 years of age, of the individual attempting to access the material. When performing a reasonable age verification, the commercial entity would not retain any identifying information after access to material has been granted. I voted yes. 


HB499 would authorize child support and insurance policies for disabled children who have become adults and have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities. I voted yes. 




HB1017 would create the offense of unlawful squatting when someone enters and resides upon the land or premises of the owner without the owner or rightful occupant’s knowledge or consent. A person who violates this provision would receive a citation advising them to present documentation within three business days authorizing their presence on the land or premises. If the person is unable to provide documentation, the person would be subject to arrest for criminal trespass and would be guilty of a misdemeanor after 3 days of failing to provide the documentation. If a person does provide documentation, a hearing would be set within seven days of submitting the documentation to determine its validity. If the documentation is found to be improperly executed or fraudulent, that person would be subject to demand for possession and removal, subject to arrest and assessed an additional fine based on the fair market monthly rental rate of the premises. I voted yes.


HB1283  would clarify that aggravated assault with a firearm would be included within the definition of “Class A designated felony act” in the Juvenile Code. I voted yes. 


Judiciary Non-Civil

HB218 would define the term “mentally incapacitated” and would allow for the admission of an out-of-court statement, which is currently hearsay, as testimony in court when a person who is 17 years old or older and who is mentally incapacitated describes any act to a third party of nonconsensual sexual contact, or any act of physical abuse, performed with or on that mentally-incapacitated person. The third party to whom the information was told must be available to be cross examined. I voted yes. 


HB1099 would amend the crime of criminal trespass to allow for prosecution when a person enters onto the property of another where certain purple marks act as a warning not to enter onto the premises. The purple marks on trees or posts would serve as a legal warning not to enter onto a property so long as they are clearly visible, spaced no more than 100 feet apart (on forested land) or 1,000 feet apart (on non-forested land) and placed at the required height to avoid flood zones. I voted yes. 


HB1201 would allow a victim of human trafficking to have their sentence vacated when related to the conditional discharge of possession of controlled substances as a first offense, as long as the crime was a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking. The victim would be able to petition the court by providing documentation from the Attorney General, detailing their status as a victim of trafficking. A defendant convicted of an offense and sentence, or a defendant who was sentenced as a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking, could petition the court to vacate the conviction and/or the sentence. If the prosecuting attorney consents in writing to the vacatur of the conviction or fails to respond to the petition within 30 days of service, the court could, without notice or hearing, issue an order vacating the conviction or sentence. If it is determined that the defendant committed the offense due to a result of human trafficking, then the court would issue a vacatur of the conviction and sentence, and it would result in the discharge and dismissal of the offense. If defendants are found to have committed offenses due to being a victim of human trafficking, access to criminal history record information would be restricted, and no fee would be charged to the individual by the Georgia Crime Information Center or any other entity. This bill would help ensure that victims who are sentenced under The First Offender Act have the same opportunity of innocence as other victims of human trafficking. It is vital that we grant victims of human trafficking, who have been vacated of their offenses, a chance to re-enter society with clean records. I voted yes. 


HB957 would establish procedure and policy for discovery and subsequent removal of vessels abandoned or left unattended on public property or in public waters of this state. I voted yes. 


Environment and Agriculture 

HB927 allows fluorescent pink to be worn as an outer garment during hunting season (instead of just orange). I voted yes.


HB1146 would allow an individual, given authority by the Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources, to provide consumable water within coastal aquifers of the state without a letter of concurrence from any public entity or local government, given certain conditions are met. This Code section would be repealed on January 1, 2029. This bill would create a dangerous precedent. More long-term water planning is needed in this state. I voted no.


HB1322 would make changes to prevent consumable hemp products from being attractive to children, and to restrict retailers from distributing consumable hemp products to consumers within 1,000 feet of a K-12 educational institution. I voted yes


HB1223 would update the Georgia Soil Amendment Act of 1976 to prohibit the distribution of soil amendments when the site is currently under consent orders by the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) when a notice of violation has been issued by the EPD of the DNR regarding contamination as a result of soil amendments and when the department has notified the owner of said site and the person who applied the soil amendment to the site. I voted yes. 



HB1104 would address mental health risks for public and participating private school student athletes. This bipartisan bill would require athletic associations, in consultation with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, to post guidelines and relevant materials on their website to inform and educate students, parents and/or guardians, school personnel and coaches about mental health risks and available resources for students. In developing such guidelines and materials, an athletic association could utilize educational videos available at no cost to the state. Additionally, coaches would be required to annually view approved educational videos, if available, and review guidelines and materials related to mental health risks in student athletes. Each public school and participating private school would be required to provide information to each student athlete’s parent or guardian at least once each school year regarding mental health risks and available resources. This legislation would not create any liability for local boards of education or governing bodies of a school or officer, employee or volunteer for any act or omission related to the removal or non-removal of a student athlete who displays an actual or perceived risk to their mental health or another student athlete’s mental health. Young student athletes can face tremendous pressure between sports and school, and that pressure can negatively impact mental health. Therefore, it is important that we support our student athletes through this bipartisan legislation that would educate and provide resources to address mental health concerns. I voted yes. 


HB1231 would allow students who are concurrently seeking a baccalaureate degree and a first professional degree and students who meet achievement standards and commence a graduate program at an eligible institution within 18 months of earning a baccalaureate degree to use the full number of hours of HOPE scholarship eligibility. I voted yes. 



HB663 or the “No Patient Left Alone Act,” would permit a minor or an adult who is admitted to a hospital or long-term care facility, to have a parent, guardian, person or caregiver to be physically present with them at all times while the patient remains in the hospital or facility. HB 663 would not require these designated caregivers to be allowed into operating rooms, isolation rooms, behavioral health settings or other typically restricted areas or to be present during administration of emergency care. This designated caregiver would be required to adhere to the policies of the hospital or long-term care facility, and their access could be suspended or terminated under certain circumstances. Also, the Department of Public Health would be prohibited from taking action against hospitals and facilities for granting access to visitors, harm to a visitor, failing to follow guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which limit visitor access and any action of a visitor or designated caregiver. Finally, these rights for caregivers could not be terminated, suspended or waived by the hospital or long-term care facility, the Department of Public Health or any governmental entity, regardless of emergency declarations by the governor. Patients who are being treated in hospitals and long-term care facilities can be in incredibly vulnerable states, and they deserve to have loved-ones or caregivers present with them in the room for support and advocacy. As we saw during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Georgians who were in these facilities could not see their loved ones. This legislation would change that to ensure that patients are never left alone without their family or caregiver by their side.I voted yes. 


HB1314 would declare emergency medical services as essential services in Georgia. I voted yes. 


HB441 would prevent licensed dentists from providing teledentistry unless the dentist has been issued a permit by the Georgia Board of Dentistry. Permits would only be issued after a licensed dentist proves there is an established referral relationship with a dentist who practices in a physical dental office in Georgia within 50 miles of where the teledentistry interaction would occur or the closest office outside of the 50-mile radius. The teledentistry permit would allow a dentist to: authorize a licensed dental hygienist to perform dental hygiene functions; prescribe medications that are not controlled substances; authorize digital scans; and authorize the transmittal of patient records. The bill would include conditions for providing dental care through teledentistry as well as insurance coverage requirements. I voted yes. 


HB924 would prohibit insurance companies from requiring the practice of “white bagging” by in-network providers for certain specialty medications. “White bagging” is the practice of requiring that these drugs be purchased through third-party pharmacies. I voted yes. 


Special Rules

HB1341 would designate the white shrimp as the official crustacean of the State of Georgia. After much consideration, I voted yes. 



HB1410 would establish a separate classification in the State Housing Trust Fund and all funds appropriated, donated or received for the specific purpose of state housing accountability programs must be used exclusively for those programs. The bill would detail qualifications for organizations and agencies to participate in state housing accountability programs and includes criteria such as: providing voluntary, immediate and stable housing to a homeless person; limiting the length of residency to 18 months or whenever the tenant can find affordable housing, whichever is earlier; and providing ongoing assistance to each resident for obtaining long-term affordable housing. The housing accountability programs must require residents to show proof of residency, participate in relevant job training/educational opportunities, search for employment and submit to regular drug/alcohol testing, among other requirements. In the bill, the seven members appointed by the governor would now be three members appointed by the governor, two members appointed by the lieutenant governor and two members appointed by the speaker of the House. The state auditor must conduct a performance audit of spending on homeless programs in the state, including expenditures by the state, expenditures by municipalities and counties with substantial homeless populations and the expenditure of federal funds allocated to the state on homelessness by December 31, 2024. I voted yes. 


Interstate Cooperation

HB839 would enter the State of Georgia into an interstate compact known as the Social Work Licensure Compact. The Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists would be the administrators of this compact while rulemaking would be overseen by the Social Work Licensure Compact Commission, made up of members of all existing member states. The compact and would not take effect until 180 days after the enactment of that statute. The compact would become effective after a seventh member state joins the compact.


Another section of the bill would be known as the ‘Interstate Massage Compact Act.’ for the purposes of increasing access to licensed massage therapy services, supporting relocating military families and increasing the accountability of a licensee. The compact would become effective after a seventh member state joins the compact. I voted yes. 


Motor Vehicles

HB935 would create a fund for the purpose of providing bonuses to deputy sheriffs and jailers. An option would be provided to contribute $5 to the fund upon issuance or renewal of a motor vehicle car tag. The commissioner of the Department of Revenue would be the custodian of the fund and administer to sheriffs’ offices through the Georgia Sheriff’s Association. I voted yes.

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