2019 State Legislative Wrap-Up
The following proactive legislation passed in the 2019 state legislative session will improve the health & safety and advance the economic empowerment of women and girls in Georgia. Thank you to all of the legislative sponsors of these bills, and to the advocates who supported them!
HB 62 – (Rep. Cooper, 43rd) “Margie’s Law” requires that a patient be notified if her mammogram demonstrates dense breast tissue, so that she can consider seeking further screening.
HB 218 – (Rep. Williams, 145th) extends the period when a student is eligible to receive the HOPE scholarship from 7 to 10 years past high school, to help students – like many young mothers – who need to take time off from schooling.
HB 227 – (Rep. Frye, 118th) ensures that insurance companies cannot deny coverage or raise rates for a woman because she has been a victim of sexual assault. The same protection already exists for victims of family violence.
HB 228 – (Rep. Welch, 110th) prevents child marriage by raising the legal age of marriage to 17 and requiring the other party to a marriage with a minor to be no more than 4 years older.
HB 281 – (Rep. Anulewicz, 42nd) makes it a felony to repeatedly buy or sell others for sex in Georgia to further prevent human trafficking.
HB 282 – (Rep. Holcomb, 81st) increases the amount of time that rape kit evidence must be preserved by law enforcement to aid in prosecuting sexual assault cases.
HB 345 – (Rep. Cooper, 43rd) provides protections for incarcerated women who are pregnant, including preventing them from being shackled before, during and immediately after labor and delivery.
HB 346 – (Rep. Cooper, 43rd) protects tenants in rental housing from being retaliated against or evicted for reporting unhealthy living conditions.
SB 16 – (Sen. Kirkpatrick, 32nd) authorizes Georgia to participate in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Act, which allows states to share disciplinary actions that have been taken against licensees, as well as prevents doctors who have sexually abused patients from relocating to Georgia by requiring criminal background checks as a condition of licensure for physicians.
SB 158 – (Sen. Strickland, 17th) prevents all victims of sex trafficking who are under the age of 18 from being arrested for prostitution and ensures a coordinated, trauma-informed response by law enforcement and child-serving organizations.
Budget items – The legislature passed a state budget that includes a $3,000 raise for teachers, as well as new funding for providing feminine hygiene products for girls in select schools.
The following bills did not advance this year, but they remain eligible for passage in next year’s legislative session:
HB 5 (Rep. Cannon, 58th) and SB 49 (Sen. Orrock, 36th) would help close the pay gap for women workers, by preventing a job applicant’s previous salary from determining her pay. The House bill is before the House Industry and Labor Committee, and the Senate bill is before the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.
HB 8 – (Rep. Bucker, 137th) would eliminate the state sales tax on feminine hygiene products. This bill is before the House Ways and Means Committee.
HB 331 – (Rep. Ballinger, 23rd) would allow someone who is in an abusive dating relationship to ask for a temporary protective order, regardless of whether they are married or have lived together. This bill is before the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
HB 359 – (Rep. Holcomb, 81st) would clarify that law enforcement should arrest the dominant aggressor when responding to family violence calls, to reduce instances of unnecessary dual arrests. This bill is before the House Juvenile Justice Committee.
HB 426 – (Rep. Efstration, 104th) would enhance penalties for hate crimes, or crimes motivated by perception of the victim’s race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender. This bill passed in the House and is before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
HB 438 – (Rep. Ballinger, 23rd) would prevent the indiscriminate shackling of children in juvenile court, to ensure a trauma-informed approach for girls in our juvenile justice system. The bill is before the House Juvenile Justice Committee.
SB 4 – (Sen. Jordan, 6th) would establish a lactation room to be open to the public visiting the Capitol Building or the Coverdell Legislative Office Building. This bill is before the Senate State Institutions and Property Committee.
SB 41 (Sen. Parent, 42nd) would enact a state-level Earned Income Tax Credit, family-friendly tax reform that can empower more women to move into the middle class. This bill is before the Senate Finance Committee.
SB 150 – (Sen. Jordan, 6th) would align state law with existing federal law to prohibit those convicted of misdemeanor crimes of family violence from receiving, possessing, or transporting a firearm. This bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
SR 55 (Sen. Orrock, 36th) and SR 66 (Sen. Unterman, 45th) would make Georgia the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution, providing equal protection of the law to all women and men. These bills are before the Senate Judiciary Committee.