Committees, Programs & Sections

Legislative Update, Week 4 (02.05.16)

AT A GLANCE:

  • State Bar bill clarifying that attorneys do not need to be licensed as insurance agents passes committee (SB290)
  • State Bar bill amending nonprofit corporation code introduced (SB 333)
  • Appellate Jurisdiction Reform Act of 2016 introduced (HB 927)
  • Discussions continue with House leaders regarding the JQC
  • Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform releases 2016 report (read it here)

The General Assembly met on Monday through Thursday of this week for legislative days 13 through 16.  There were a flurry of bills going through the committee process and Appropriations subcommittees in both the House and the Senate continued to vet the FY17 budget.

Many State Bar bills have begun to move through the process and our legislative team is working to ensure that the remaining bills are introduced next week. SB 290, the State Bar bill that clarifies that attorneys who collect premiums on, issue policies of and otherwise advise on title insurance need not be licensed insurance agents, passed the Senate Insurance Committee this week. It now sits in the Senate Rules Committee awaiting a floor vote. Also this week, Sen. John Kennedy introduced SB 333, which includes the State Bar's proposal related to the re-domestication of nonprofit corporations.

Yesterday, The Appellate Jurisdiction Reform Act of 2016, HB 927, was introduced. This bill will modernize appellate practices and maximize efficiencies in the appellate courts by shifting certain jurisdictional issues from the Supreme Court to the Court of Appeals. The bill also increases the size of the Supreme Court from seven to nine Justices.

Also this week, State Bar President Bob Kauffman along with the legislative team, continued conversations with House leaders regarding their concerns about the Judicial Qualifications Commission. The State Bar continues to work toward a solution that addresses their concerns while also appreciating the Bar's role in this important constitutional commission.

In other news, the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform released its 2016 recommendations this week. We expect that those recommendations requiring legislative action will be introduced as a bill or bills next week. The State Bar looks forward to continuing to work with the General Assembly on what will be the fifth year of successful justice reform and reinvestment initiatives.

The General Assembly will meet on Monday through Thursday of next week for legislative days 17 through 20.

If you would like to plan a lobby day under the Gold Dome for your local or voluntary bar association, or if you have any questions about the Bar's legislative program and agenda, please contact Thomas Worthy, the State Bar of Georgia's Director of Governmental Affairs, at thomasw@gabar.org.

You are encouraged to sign up for the State Bar Action Network, a new, web-based portal that streamlines and simplifies legislative advocacy for our members. You may sign up by clicking here and then clicking on the green button on the right side of your screen. For additional information about the State Bar of Georgia's legislative program and agenda, to track legislation or to contact the Bar's legislative team, please visit the Legislative Program page.

Legislative Update, Week 3 (01.29.16)

AT A GLANCE:

  • Chief Justice Thompson delivers the State of the Judiciary Address ( Read it here.)
  • JQC bills introduced this week ( HB 808 and HR 1113)
  • Family Law Section's bill moves out of committee ( HB 405)
  • E-Discovery bill adopted by State Bar's Board of Governors

The General Assembly met on Monday through Thursday of this week for legislative days 9 through 12, and it was a busy week particularly in committees.

On Wednesday, the House and Senate met in a joint session to hear Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson's State of the Judiciary Address. You can read a copy of the Chief Justice's speech here.

Earlier in the week, a bipartisan group of lawyer-legislators introduced HB 808 and HR 1113. These bills seek to revamp the structure and membership of the Judicial Qualifications Commission. While they would increase the number of lawyers serving on the Commission, they would also remove the State Bar's ability to appoint members to the Commission. State Bar President Bob Kauffman has been made aware of the concerns held by House leadership about the Commission, and he is working with the Bar's legislative team and House leaders to develop a solution that values the State Bar's input and unique perspective as well as protects the best interests of the public and the judiciary.

On Thursday, HB 405, the Family Law Section's antenuptial agreement bill, received final passage from the House Judiciary Committee. It now moves to the House Rules Committee for scheduling for a floor vote.

Earlier today, in a specially called meeting of the Board of Governors, the Board, by a vote of 69-24, adopted the proposal made by the Electronically Stored Information Committee. A copy of that proposal can be found here. With this approval, the Bar's legislative team will now work with members of the General Assembly to find a sponsor for this proposal and get it introduced as a bill next week.

The General Assembly will meet on Monday through Thursday of next week for legislative days 13 through 16.

If you would like to plan a lobby day under the Gold Dome for your local or voluntary bar association, or if you have any questions about the Bar's legislative program and agenda, please contact Thomas Worthy, the State Bar of Georgia's Director of Governmental Affairs, at thomasw@gabar.org.

You are encouraged to sign up for the State Bar Action Network, a new, web-based portal that streamlines and simplifies legislative advocacy for our members. You may sign up by clicking here and then clicking on the green button on the right side of your screen. For additional information about the State Bar of Georgia's legislative program and agenda, to track legislation or to contact the Bar's legislative team, please visit the Legislative Program page.

Legislative Update, Week 2 (01.22.16)

After taking Monday off for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, the General Assembly returned to work on Tuesday with joint budget hearings as both House and Senate appropriators began to vet Gov. Deal's recommended $23.7 billion state budget.

The General Assembly then gaveled into session for legislative day 6 on Wednesday. Joint budget subcommittee hearings ensued on Wednesday and Thursday. Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Judicial Subcommittee and the House Appropriations Public Safety Subcommittee held a joint hearing to take up the Judicial Branch's budget requests. At that hearing, they heard from all classes of courts, the Judicial Council, the Prosecuting Attorneys Council and the Public Defenders Council. Included in these presentations were many budgetary requests supported by the State Bar including grants for legal representation for victims of domestic violence, an increase in appropriations for the Department of Law and pay parity with step increases for assistant public defenders and assistant district attorneys.

In other State Bar news, a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee passed out HB 405, the Bar's antenuptial agreements legislation, this morning. It now goes on to the full committee for consideration. Our legislative team continues to work with members to introduce our new proposals and calendar Bar bills that remain from last year.

The General Assembly will convene next Monday, Jan. 25, through Thursday, Jan. 28, for legislative days 9-12.

If you would like to plan a lobby day under the Gold Dome for your local or voluntary bar association, or if you have any questions about the Bar's legislative program and agenda, please contact Thomas Worthy, the State Bar of Georgia's Director of Governmental Affairs, at thomasw@gabar.org.

You are encouraged to sign up for the State Bar Action Network, a new, web-based portal that streamlines and simplifies legislative advocacy for our members. You may sign up by clicking here and then clicking on the green button on the right side of your screen. For additional information about the State Bar of Georgia's legislative program and agenda, to track legislation or to contact the Bar's legislative team, please visit the Legislative Program page.

Legislative Update, Week 1 (01.15.16)

The 2016 Regular Session of the 152nd Georgia General Assembly commenced on Monday, Jan. 11. Soon after gaveling in, legislators quickly passed the beginning of an aggressive session schedule that will have them at legislative day 13 of their 40-day session by Feb. 1. If this pace is maintained, the General Assembly could potentially adjourn sine die as early as March 24. You can view the schedule here.

As expected, this first week was generally slow with respect to conducting legislative business and holding committee hearings, but members were busy drafting and introducing legislation in both chambers. Casino gambling, medical marijuana expansion, K-12 education reforms and debate over religious liberty promise to keep the session active and exciting even though it is shaping up to be a very quick one.

On Wednesday, day 3 of the legislative session, the General Assembly met jointly to hear Gov. Deal's State of the State address. In that speech, the governor laid out his budgetary and legislative priorities for the year, which include education reform and a continuation of his criminal justice reform and reinvestment initiatives. You can read the entire text of the speech here.

The General Assembly convened again on Thursday, Jan. 14, for legislative day 4, when it received Gov. Deal's FY 2017 budget recommendations. The governor's proposed budget is the largest budget in the history of Georgia at $23.7 billion and includes a 3 percent raise for teachers and state employees. You can view a copy of the proposed FY 2017 budget here.

In State Bar news, the Board of Governors voted at last weekend's meeting on the final pieces of the Bar's legislative agenda for the year. You may find all of the proposals, including bills remaining from last year by visiting the Legislative Program page. The Bar's legislative team has begun its work finding sponsors for new proposals and working with committee chairmen for quick action on pending bills. In addition, State Bar President Robert J. "Bob" Kauffman continues to work with attorneys from the involved stakeholder groups and the chair of the Discovery of Electronically Stored Information Task Force to develop a compromise on an e-discovery proposal. The proposal will be voted on by the Board of Governors at a specially called meeting on Jan. 29 at noon at the Bar Center. The meeting will be broadcast to the Tifton and Savannah offices so that board members can participate from those locations as well.

The General Assembly will take next Monday, Jan. 18, off in observance of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and will spend next Tuesday, Jan. 19, in budget hearings. Legislators will convene for legislative day 6 on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

If you have any questions about the Bar's Legislative Program and agenda, or if you would like to plan a lobby day under the Gold Dome for your local or voluntary bar association, please contact Thomas Worthy, the State Bar of Georgia's Director of Governmental Affairs, at thomasw@gabar.org.

For additional information about the State Bar of Georgia's Legislative Program and agenda, to track legislation or to contact the Bar's legislative team, please visit the Legislative Program page.