Capitol Update 7 – Juvenile Justice Reform, Fetal Pain, and more

Tuesday is Georgia’s Presidential Primary election day. Please voice your opinion at the ballot box for the candidate you believe will best lead our country. Find your polling place here.

Wednesday is day 30 of the 2012 Legislative Session. The 30th day is known as “crossover day” because most bills must pass either the Senate or House to be considered by the other Chamber prior to completing our 40-day session. The pace and number of bills coming to the floor for consideration increases considerably during these final days. On Monday, the House calendar includes 30 bills.

Last week the House passed several bills of significant interest and impact. HB 641, Juvenile Justice Reform provides a comprehensive overhaul of our state’s juvenile code. This code update improves our ability to help children entering the state system both as juvenile detainees as well as in foster care.

HB 954, the “Fetal Pain Bill” expands protection for human life banning abortions at 20 weeks. Significant medical evidence indicates a fetus may be capable of feeling pain at this stage; therefore, a compelling state interest exists to establish this bright line preventing abortion except in cases meeting a very narrow exception for pregnancies that threaten the life of the mother or the life of another unborn child.

HB 456, the Georgia Government Accountability Act, seeks to reduce the size of government and its unnecessary intrusion into the lives of Georgians. A Joint Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee will evaluate state agencies and entities based on their productivity, efficiency and responsiveness. The committee would then submit its findings to the General Assembly with a recommendation for legislative action that could include privatization, consolidation or elimination of the state program or agency.

HB 397 Open Records
Unanimously passed by House Judiciary

HB 397 is a re-write and improvement in Georgia’s Open Records and Open Meetings law designed to improve transparency and access. The bill clarifies topics permissible for discussion in Executive Session, establishes that minutes must be recorded during Executive Sessions, and provides penalties for those that would attempt to frustrate access to public government information. HB 397 also reduces the cost per copy of public documents from a maximum of 25 cents to a maximum of 10 cents per page.

HB 972 Pill Mills
Passes Health & Human Services Committee

HB 972, the Georgia Pain Management Clinic Act is an attempt to fight prescription drug abuse by curtailing the rapid growth of illegal pill mills in Georgia. By providing the Georgia Composite Medical Board the authority to license and regulate pain management clinics, HB 972 will protect legitimate healthcare providers and patient care while restricting illicit pill mill operators.

As always, thanks for allowing me to serve as your state Representative. Please contact me with any issue of importance to you, your family, or business.

Representative Brett Harrell
601-D Coverdell Legislative Office Building
18 Capitol Square
Atlanta, GA 30334