The 2013 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly continues to push forward toward the finish line with the completion of the twenty-seventh day of session. The pace quickens, the days lengthen, and pending legislation continues to grow. As we quickly approach Crossover Day, legislative day thirty, any bill originating in the House only has three session days remaining to pass through the House and to “Crossover” to the Senate, if it hopes to become law this year. The House passed two bills (HB 142 and HB 143) geared toward ethics reform this week, as well as two bills I sponsored, one I co-sponsored, and numerous other pieces of legislation.
Reforming our ethics laws is one of our priorities for this session. The ethics reform legislation, House Bill 142, has seen many changes this session to make sure the language conveys the intent, which is to provide more open and greater transparency in our government. This bill passed the House on Monday 164 to 4 and will now advance to the Senate to follow a similar committee process and possible passage by the full Senate. This legislation would make several changes to current law, such as: restoring rule making authority to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission; greater clarity of who should be required to register as a lobbyist; reduction of the lobbyist registration fee to $25; prohibiting any drink or dinner expenditures by a lobbyist, with the exception of certain expenditures at group events, including for committees, local delegations, caucuses; and allows permissible expenditures for conferences and other yearly meetings.
Campaign contributions to state legislators or other statewide elected officials are not allowed during the legislative session; however, the current law does not require a disclosure immediately prior to session, but in December of the previous year. House Bill 143 passed unanimously and seeks to change the campaign disclosure requirement filing to include a report of contributions made between January 1st and the beginning of each session.
Reforming our juvenile justice system is imperative to ensuring our children are held accountable for violations of the law, but are provided treatment and rehabilitation through community based programs. The goal is that these young “troubled” children can move beyond their youthful shortcomings and can grow up to become responsible and productive members of our society. House Bill 242 passed unanimously and substantially revises and modernizes the juvenile justice code in Georgia as recommended by the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform.
The two bills I sponsored and discussed briefly last week passed the full House this week and now go to the Senate for consideration. For several years, I have worked on legislation relating to scrap tires and their disposal. One significant step forward has been the approval by the Georgia Department of Transportation to begin the process of using scrap tires in our paving. House Bill 226 passed 139 to 33 and as discussed last week, would seek to reduce the illegal dumping of scrap tires by addressing the process of transportation, storage, and disposal. This legislation revises certain requirements, such as: provides for the distinction between scrap tires and used tires, requires a tire carrier permit and decal on vehicles transporting more than ten tires (certain exceptions, i.e., tire retailer transporting its own used tires), limits the number of tires stored to 25, requires that all scrap tires are secured in a locked enclosure to prevent unauthorized access, and would allow any business to apply for a waiver from that requirement if it would cause an economic hardship on the business.
House Bill 244 passed 151 to 21 and will establish a single statewide educator evaluation system under which every teacher would be evaluated yearly. This legislation will revise certain provisions relating to the annual performance evaluations for elementary and secondary educators and administrators. These provisions would include the development of an evaluation system, as well as a rating system, for teachers and administrators to be completed no later than the 2014-2015 school year. The rating levels will be designated as “Exemplary, Proficient, Needs Development, or Ineffective” and will replace the current system of “Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory.” The evaluation system, under this legislation, will be established by the department and will take into account multiple measures, prioritizing student growth and academic achievement. The goal is greater uniformity in the evaluation process and greater objectivity.
I also co-sponsored House Bill 156 and it passed the House unanimously on Thursday. This legislation is in response to a loophole in current Georgia law in regard to online trafficking of minors for sexual purposes. This legislation would allow the prosecution of any individual, including those that have custody or control of a child, that contributed to the exploitation of a child.
The Georgia General Assembly will continue day twenty-eight of the 2013 Legislative Session on Monday, March 4th. Please contact me with your ideas and opinions or if I can be of service to you in anyway. It is your input and common sense ideas that develop into the best legislation and potentially becomes the laws of our State. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-5087 or write to me at: State Rep. Randy Nix, 18 Capitol Square, Suite 402 CLOB State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.