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Werkheiser Legislative Update
Bill Werkheiser
Bill Werkheiser

First, I am excited to announce that the House gave unanimous final passage to House Bill 1013, the Mental Health Parity Act, A foundational provision of this legislation would require parity for mental health coverage to the same degree as coverage for physical care to make accessing mental health care services significantly easier for Georgians. 

The House also passed SB 87, the Senator Jack Hill Veterans’ Act, to provide a way to donate to college scholarships that are only for our veterans. Taxpayers would have the opportunity to use a portion of their income tax return to make a voluntarily contribution to the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) Foundation, which would be able to expand its efforts to support veterans who are seeking technical degrees. 

Constitutional Carry! SB 319, which would repeal the requirement for a weapons carry license for those who are not otherwise ineligible to possess and carry a firearm;

SB 10, which would make it a felony offense to impersonate a court officer with a prison sentence between one to five years and/or a maximum fine of $1,000; this bill would also make it a crime to intentionally, secretly place or direct someone else to place a global positioning system (GPS) on a motor vehicle when the car owner or lessee has a protective order against the person placing the GPS.

SB 116, which would allow for the registration of maternity-supportive housing residences that provide housing for pregnant and postpartum women who are at least 18 years old; these homes would provide safe housing and allow the women to remain in the homes for 18 months after the birth of their child.

SB 226, which would require local boards of education to create a complaint resolution policy for local schools by January 1, 2023, to allow parents or guardians to submit complaints to the school about inappropriate content that is harmful to minors and available to the students at the school. 

SB 276, the Child Victim Protection Act of 2022, which would revise sections of the code regarding actions for childhood sexual abuse, including extending civil actions for recovery of damages for this abuse committed on or after July 1, 2015, to four years, allowing adults between 23 and 38 years old to bring civil actions for childhood abuse, establishing a look-back period for one year for those who were previously barred due to a statute of limitations, among other vital updates.

SB 337, which would discontinue compensation for a public official if the official is suspended as a result of a felony indictment.

SB 345, which would prohibit state and local governments from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition for providing services, accessing a facility, issuing licenses or permits.

SB 379, which would establish the High-demand Career Initiatives Program under the Office of Workforce Development to promote the creation and expansion of registered apprenticeship programs in the state; this program would work to incentivize apprenticeship sponsors to establish new or grow existing registered apprenticeship programs in Georgia in order to expand high-quality work-based learning experiences in high-demand fields and careers in the state; the sponsor would receive a completion reward up to $10,000 per apprentice after a successful apprenticeship that meets all requirements.

SB 514, the Unmask Georgia Students Act, which would prohibit local public and charter schools from making or enforcing any rules that require students to wear face masks or face coverings at school.

SB 553, which would allow a person at least 15 years old to operate a Class 1, Class 2 or Class 3 vessel on state waters if the individual has proper identification or an instruction permit and is accompanied by an adult that is at least 18 years old; this bill would also require the accompanying adult to be authorized to operate the vessel and be able to take control of the vessel.

SB 576, which would update Georgia’s laws for grandparent visitation rights by establishing that if one of the parents of a minor child dies, is incapacitated or is incarcerated, the court may award reasonable visitation if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that it would be in the best interests of the child.

SB 588, which would require that all local education board meetings have a public comment period on its agenda posted prior to the meeting; a local education board would annually set their meeting dates and make this schedule available to the public online; it would also prohibit the board from removing an individual from the meeting unless under specific circumstances and would require the local board to adopt and publish rules of conduct for the public meetings; this bill would also permit visual and sound recordings at all of these public meetings.

To support victims of human trafficking, SB 565 would allow a victim to vacate their sentence through a petition that could be filed following a conviction that was committed due to human trafficking. If a sentence is vacated, any court fines or fees that the victim previously paid for the sentence would be reimbursed through the Georgia Crime Victims Emergency Fund

SB 461 would add human trafficking-related crimes to the list of crimes that are not eligible for an unsecured judicial release, meaning these criminals could not be released from jail without paying bond. 

The House also gave unanimous passage to SB 562 to prohibit companies owned or operated by the governments of Russia. Our state announced that Georgia would divest any state investments in Russia, and would further reinforce our state’s condemnation of the Russian government as Putin continues to senselessly murder and violate the sovereign rights of the Ukrainian people, including women and children.

Bill Werkheiser

GA House of Representatives

District 157

Georgia State Capitol

218 Capitol

Atlanta, GA 30334

Office: 404-656-5132

Cell: 912-237-0145