Photo Says It All!

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Capitol Before Disability Day 2013

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Disability Day 2013

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Nuggets from the Gold Dome

Your Nuggets:

  • Ava’s Law: HB 309 or “Ava’s Law” was filed on February 12th. It currently sits with House First Readers. The law would require Georgia-regulated health plans to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism. Georgia is one of just 18 remaining states that do not require autism coverage by law.
  • The Little Budget: Last Friday, the House passed the amended FY2013 budget by a vote of 145-18. The Senate has read and referred HB 105 to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Once adopted, both chambers will begin considering Gov. Deal’s FY2014 budget.
  • Can’t get enough of the Legislative Session?The Open States app, produced by the Sunlight Foundation, lets the user stay abreast of what is happening in your state capitol. This app has a lot of up-to-date information about proposed legislation, committees, and legislators.

What I am Watching:

  • 45 Days of Early Voting? Senator Steve Henson has introduced SB 50 which will extend the in person advanced voting period from 21 days to 45 days, the same length of time absentee ballots are available. Longer early voting periods will allow citizens to easily cast their ballots and avoid long lines. In 2012, the State lowered the number of days available for advanced in person voting from 45 to just 21 days. SB 50 has been read and referred to the Senate Committee on Ethics.
  • State Health Plan and Abortion: Senator Judson Hill sponsored SB 98, which would effectively prohibit the State Employee Health Insurance Plan from covering abortions. One of the cosponsors, Butch Miller, is the Chairman of the Republican Caucus which leads me to believe that Senate GOP leadership must feel like it is time to modify the state employees’ health coverage.

Take Action!

  • Call your State Representative! Let him/her know what you think of HB309/Ava’s Law.

 House Committee Schedule: http://webmail.legis.ga.gov/Calendar/default.aspx?chamber=house

Senate Committee Schedule: http://webmail.legis.ga.gov/Calendar/default.aspx?chamber=house

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Warren Hill

Letter to the Editor

Atlanta Journal Constitution

Warren Lee Hill, Jr. Execution

As a Community Support Specialist for the Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University, it is my privilege and honor to work with people all across our state that have disabilities. I have dedicated my career to serving this wonderful community of people – a community that has all too often been marginalized.

 Based on my experience, I oppose the execution of Warren Hill, who is scheduled to be put to death on February 19th. Mr. Hill is a Georgia death row inmate with an intellectual disability. His I.Q. has been tested numerous times, each test showing his I.Q. to be around 70.  In accordance with Georgia’s state policies, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities references an IQ of 70 and below to be eligible for state-funded services.

As a state, we can be proud that Georgia led the nation in being the first to prohibit the execution of persons with developmental or intellectual disabilities. However, the State still requires defendants to prove their disability beyond a reasonable doubt – the highest standard of proof in any trial. Georgia is the only state in the Nation to require that an intellectual or developmental disability be proven beyond reasonable doubt.  The U.S. Supreme Court, in Atkins v. Virginia, ruled that it is unconstitutional to execute persons who have an intellectual or developmental disability, still known in legal language as mental retardation.

If our state chooses to execute a citizen with and intellectual or developmental disability, it will further marginalizing this community of families and friends that I have grown to love and respect.

Sincerely,

Ryan Johnson

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Nuggets From The Gold Dome

Your Nuggets:

  • Little Budget: HB 105 , or the “Little Budget” was debated by the House Appropriations Committee yesterday (2/6/13) and was reported on favorably. The Little Budget funds the State government from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013.
  • ASD Screening in well-child visits: SR 20 , sponsored by Sen. Donzella James (D-35), requests that physicians include autism spectrum disorders screening in all well-child visits no later than 18 months of age. There was mentioning of a “Reference Committee on Autism” in the text of the resolution, however, while digging deeper, I have found that this committee may, or may not exist. Stacey and I will be meeting with Senator James next Thursday, and I will report back to you what we find out. Please note that a Resolution does not carry the power of law if passed.
  • Social Media Password Protection: HB 117, sponsored by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-76), would prohibit employers from asking for your password to your private social media accounts. The bill does make an exception for work accounts or employees under investigation. It currently sits with House Second Readers and by all accounts, this bill should be passed.

 

What I am Watching:

  • Rep. Paul Battles (R-15) prefiled legislation after the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings to authorize local school boards to designate one or more administrators in each school to possess and carry firearms within a school safety zone. HB 35 currently sits with House Second Readers and will be referred to the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.
  • 45 Days of Early Voting? Senator Steve Henson has introduced SB 50 which will extend the in person advanced voting period from 21 days to 45 days, the same length of time absentee ballots are available. Longer early voting periods will allow citizens to easily cast their ballots and avoid long lines. In 2012, the State lowered the number of days available for advanced in person voting from 45 to just 21 days.

 

Take Action!

  • There are no bills where action is currently needed
  • In preparation for other Action Items that may come up, find your legislators using the website www.votesmart.org.

 

House Committee Schedule: http://webmail.legis.ga.gov/Calendar/default.aspx?chamber=house

Senate Committee Schedule: http://webmail.legis.ga.gov/Calendar/default.aspx?chamber=house

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Nuggets From The Gold Dome

Your Nuggets:

  • Insurance Coverage for Autism: SB 47 would require each individual accident/sickness policy sold to cover the treatment of children with cancer and autism. This bill was referred to the Insurance and Labor Committee.
  • Reporting of Bullying Incidents: HB 15 would require annual reporting of bullying incidents from local school boards and would provide for input into anti-bullying strategies by school councils.
  • Lots of “Hoppy” Georgians: HB 99 will double the amount of beer Georgians can produce in their own homes, AND allow them to transport it (untaxed) to Homebrew festivals and competitions. 

What I am Watching:

  • The House has introduced legislation that would repeal current prohibitions against firearms on college campuses. HB 29, or the Georgia Campus Carry Act of 2013, is already with House Second Readers. This is obviously a highly contentious proposal and I will continue to keep an eye on it.

Take Action!

  • There are no bills where action is currently needed
  • In preparation for other Action Items that may come up, find your legislators using the website www.votesmart.org.

House Committee Schedule: http://webmail.legis.ga.gov/Calendar/default.aspx?chamber=house

Senate Committee Schedule: http://webmail.legis.ga.gov/Calendar/default.aspx?chamber=house

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