Rep. Ron Stephens
The Georgia General Assembly reconvened for the 10th week of the 2023 legislative session. During these final days of session, the House of Representatives has turned its focus toward reviewing Senate legislation that passed before the Crossover Day deadline last week. As such, we were extremely busy considering Senate bills in our respective House committees, and we passed a number of these bills on the House floor this week. We will return for the final five days of the session this week and next.
The House passed Senate Bill 3, or the “Reducing Barriers to State Employment Act of 2023,” to help attract more prospective state employees with different educational and professional backgrounds. S.B. 3 would require the Georgia Department of Administrative Services (DOAS) to regularly assess and reduce unnecessary educational, experiential and training requirements for positions within our state agencies and departments. While this bill does not entirely eliminate education requirements for state jobs, the DOAS would specifically work to reduce the number of job postings that require a four-year college degree.
We also passed a bipartisan Senate measure to improve infant and maternal health outcomes in Georgia. Supported by the Georgia Department of Public Health, Senate Bill 46 would require prenatal syphilis and HIV testing to be administered by health care providers at multiple points throughout a pregnancy. The state already requires this testing to take place after a baby is born, but this bill would require medical providers to test for these two infections during a pregnant mother’s first appointment and again between 28-32 weeks of gestation.
We passed Senate Bill 140, which would prohibit Georgia’s medical providers from providing sex reassignment surgeries and hormone replacement therapies to minors under the age of 18 in a licensed institution for the treatment of gender dysphoria with certain exemptions; exceptions would include the treatment of sex development disorders, androgen insensitivity syndrome and some other medical conditions; minors who began hormone replacement therapies before July 1, 2023, would be exempt; licensed physicians in violation would be held administratively responsible by the medical board.
One bill with particular reasoning for the Savannah Bananas Baseball team is Senate Bill 116, which would limit municipal leases for the operation of an arena, sports field, stadium or other recreational facility to no longer than 20 years. This expands the ability of the Bananas to negotiate a longer playing contract at their home field in Savannah.
Additionally, the House passed legislation to protect vulnerable senior citizens in Georgia from falling victim to financial exploitation. Senate Bill 84 would require investment advisors or supervisory professionals to notify the Secretary of State’s Office if they suspect that an adult over 65 years old with mental or physical incapacitation, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is being exploited financially. The investment advisor could also inform one of the victim’s designated contacts about the situation if such person is not considered a suspect.
One of the more ridiculous bills we had to pass to reign in overly aggressive local municipalities agents, we passed bipartisan legislation to ensure that Georgia children can set up lemonade stands in their neighborhoods without a permit. Senate Bill 55, also known as the “Lemonade Stand Act,” would allow children to sell non-consumable goods, pre-packaged food items and non-alcoholic beverages, such as lemonade, without requiring permits, licenses or incurring taxes as long as the annual revenue is less than $5,000. Lemonade stands are a cherished tradition for Georgia children, and this legislation would allow these young entrepreneurs to operate without the hassle of permits and taxes.
I will continue to be your voice in dealing with problems or questions about your state government. I encourage you to contact me with your input and thoughts on proposed legislation or current events that may impact our community. I am in 226A of the State Capitol. My office phone number is (404) 656-5115 and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to continuing this session and serving all of you.