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Lehman Franklin: “Three of my Bills Have Now Passed the House”

By: Lehman Franklin, Georgia State Representative, 160th District

On Monday, February 27, my House colleagues and I started another productive week of the 2023 legislative session. This week, we met for four days in the House Chamber and devoted an entire day to working in our respective committees.

With Crossover Day coming up next week, we worked longer hours each day to thoroughly review and vote on key pieces of legislation. We still have a lot of work to do but I look forward to working on these critical bills that aim to address issues facing the Peach State.

I am proud to announce that my second and third bills passed through the House this week! House Bill 480 increases the compensation rates for those that get hurt on the job, as well as taking care of their loved ones in the event of a work related death. I am proud to continue to stand up for the hard working men and women of Georgia.

My third piece of legislation to pass through our chamber this session is House Bill 302. This bill allows a judge to issue a permanent or temporary protective order in regards to stalking. In the past, most cases were issued a temporary order causing the victim to have to come back and face their stalker for each additional extension. This bill gives a judge the discretion to help protect some of Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens.

In addition to these bills that made it through the House we had a number of other important pieces of legislation that we were working on.

Mental Health Parity Act

Last session, the House of Representatives championed the Mental Health Parity Act to reform Georgia’s mental health care delivery system and improve client outcomes for those with severe mental illness. Building upon this monumental bill’s foundation, the House overwhelmingly passed House Bill 520 this week to continue to streamline and improve the state’s behavioral health care system and expand its workforce. To that end this bipartisan bill will:

  • Create new state authorities and pilot programs to help develop standardized terminology for serious mental illness, improve sharing and collecting data among law enforcement and state agencies, as well as establish rules for transferring data in compliance with federal and state law.
  • Authorize the state’s Behavioral Innovation and Reform Commission to establish a task force to build a continuum of care.
    • This task force would conduct a statewide bed study for inpatient treatment centers to better understand and address the lack of inpatient options for struggling individuals as well as:
      • Make recommendations on needed capacity building, youth specific care and autism spectrum-related care with the ultimate goal of increasing bed capacity for those who need inpatient care.
      • Examine laws and regulations that may affect those who interact with the behavioral health and criminal justice systems.
      • Study the benefits of expanding inpatient treatment options for child and adolescent substance misuse.
  • A funding mechanism that would allow the Georgia General Assembly to appropriate funds in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget for crisis services in several counties.
  • Expand the state’s loan forgiveness program for mental health care providers to include those already in working in this field.

By implementing these initiatives, the bill seeks to reduce barriers to care, ensure that individuals receive appropriate treatment for their conditions and decrease recidivism rates for those with mental illness who come into contact with our criminal justice system. This bill now heads to the Senate for their consideration.

Veterans Mental Health Services Program

This week, the House passed bipartisan legislation to expand mental health care options for veterans living in Georgia. House Bill 414 would create the Veterans Mental Health Services Program, which would serve as a competitive grant program to improve access to mental health services for service members, veterans and their family members in Georgia.

  • The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities would administer these grants to eligible non-profit community behavioral health programs that demonstrate their ability to provide high-quality services to veterans and their families.
  • The grant program would prioritize applicants that are located within 50 miles of a military base and have already made capital investments into veteran services.
  • The Veterans Mental Health Services Program would be a significant step towards improving access to mental health services for our veterans and their families to ensure that these Georgians have the support they need to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

Defending Renters and Landlords

My colleagues and I also unanimously passed a historic bill to protect the rights of both Georgia’s renters and landlords and ensure that rental properties are kept in a safe and healthy condition. House Bill 404 would require rental properties to be “fit for human habitation” upon signing a lease, and landlords would be required to maintain their properties throughout the duration of the lease. The provisions also include:

  • Prohibiting landlords from turning off a rental home’s air conditioning system prior to an eviction to force tenants to move out.
  • Prohibiting landlords from requiring a security deposit that exceeds two months’ rent.
  • Balance the needs of landlords and their tenants during an eviction process. If a tenant fails to pay rent or charges owed to the landlord, the tenant would have a three business day period prior to an eviction proceeding being filed, which would give tenants time to try and resolve the issue before being evicted.
  • Require an eviction notice to be posted visibly on the tenant’s front door in a sealed envelope or delivered based on stipulations in the rental agreement to ensure that the tenant is aware of the eviction proceeding and has an opportunity to respond.

Georgia renters have the right to live in homes that meets certain minimum health and safety standards, and overall, this bill would provide greater protections for tenants under state law and hold landlords accountable for keeping their properties safe for renters.

Providing Medications for Our Students

House Bill 440, will allow public and private schools to keep lifesaving medications on hand for students who have diabetes.

  • This will allow public and private schools in Georgia to stock and administer glucagon, a medication used to treat severe hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, in people with diabetes.
  • Allow prescribers, such as physicians and nurse practitioners, to provide standing orders or prescriptions for ready-to-use glucagon to schools so that this medication can be rapidly administered to students in an emergency.
  • Allow a public or private school to work directly with glucagon manufacturers or third-party suppliers to obtain the products for free or at fair market or reduced prices.

Severe hypoglycemia can be life-threatening and may require immediate treatment with glucagon, especially in situations where a student with diabetes does not have their medication with them. By allowing schools to stock glucagon, this bill would improve access to treatment for students who have a diabetic emergency at school.

Electric Vehicle Infrastructure

Another major Bipartisan bill we passed this week established the regulatory framework for Georgia’s electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, which could encourage more businesses, such as convenience stores, to offer EV charging stations across the state.

  • Under House Bill 406, the sale of electricity at EV charging stations would be similar to the sale of gasoline, and the bill would give the Georgia Department of Agriculture regulatory authority over EV charging stations, including inspecting these stations.
  • It will require all EV charging stations to provide accurate readings of electricity charged to each vehicle on a per kilowatt-hour basis as a retail sale and include meters to record the total kilowatt-hours.
  • Establish an excise tax set by the Georgia Department of Revenue to ensure that our state collects revenue similar to revenue that is typically produced from gasoline sales.

The number of EV drivers in Georgia has skyrocketed in recent years, along with EV manufacturing, and it’s imperative that we lay the groundwork for a statewide EV charging infrastructure. HB 406 would ensure that EV charging stations operate efficiently and fairly to support the growth and development of EVs in Georgia, which could have numerous benefits for the environment, public health and the economy.

Coleman-Baker Act

House Bill 88, or the Coleman-Baker Act, would require law enforcement agencies to conduct a thorough review of an original cold case murder investigation upon written request to determine if a new investigation could produce new leads or identify a likely perpetrator. This review will:

  • Examine what procedures may have been missed in the original investigation, whether new or old witnesses should be interviewed, if forensic evidence was properly tested, as well as update the case file using the most current investigative standards.
  • If a new investigation is warranted, agencies could open a new investigation that would be overseen by a new officer. Each law enforcement agency would develop their own written application process for these reinvestigations that keeps applicants informed, and agencies would have six months to review an application and complete its case file review to determine whether or not to proceed with a full reinvestigation.
  • The University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government would create a case tracking system and public website with information about these applications and investigations. To provide families with some closure when their loved one’s cause of death is inconclusive, this bill would allow a coroner or medical examiner to issue a death certificate with a non-specific cause of death.

HB 88 could solve murders that date back to 1970 and could ultimately help bring justice to families and victims of cold case murders in this state.

Student Loan Repayment Program for Medical Examiners

On Day 27, the House passed legislation to help attract and retain qualified medical examiners in the field of forensic sciences by providing financial support to those burdened with student loan debt. House Bill 163 would create a student loan repayment program for full-time medical examiners who work for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s (GBI) Division of Forensic Sciences. This program will:

  • Provide these examiners with up to $120,000 to repay their student loans if they work for GBI for five years.
  • The Georgia Student Finance Authority would implement the program using state funds appropriated by the General Assembly.
    • GBI only has nine full-time and two part-time medical examiners to handle all of its forensic testing for the entire state, and each examiner currently handles nearly double their appropriate case load.

Across the country, states are facing shortages of these critical workers, and this repayment program could help incentivize prospective and current medical examiners in Georgia to join or remain in this field.

Safe Schools Act

The House passed House Bill 147, or the Safe Schools Act, to address how Georgia schools prepare for acts of violence on campus. This bill will:

  • Require the Professional Standards Commission to work with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS), Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice and the Georgia Public Safety Training Center to create an endorsement for eligible certificated school professionals who complete a voluntary training program on school safety and anti-gang identification.
  • Require schools to submit their school safety plan to GEMA/HS.
  • Require schools to conduct intruder alert drills by October 1 of each school year and report to GEMA/HS when these drills are completed.
  • Require students to participate in these drills, but schools could allow a parent/legal guardian to elect for their child not to participate.

The goal of this legislation is to improve school safety and preparedness and reduce incidents of violence and gang activity on school grounds.

Guests at the Capitol

Caroline Bowman and her daughter Madeline joined us Dyslexia Day at the Capital. Their passion and work for those struggling with Dyslexia is unparalleled and I thank them for their continued work.

Posters at the Georgia State Capitol is an annual event in Atlanta, Georgia in which undergraduate researchers from schools in Georgia present their research as posters to state legislators and staffers. This event is hosted by the Georgia Undergraduate Research Collective and allows students to share their ideas and present to elected officials. I had the pleasure of visiting with some top minds from the Georgia Southern delegation. Thanks to students Victor Buitimea, Madison Procyk, Caroline Ray and mentors Kimberly Harris, Dr. Sevki Cesmeci for joining us!

Independent Insurance Association of Georgia

The Independent Insurance Association of Georgia works tirelessly each day for insurance agencies across our great state. I was very happy to be joined by my good friend Ashley Hines Ellis, President of the Independent Insurance Association of Georgia. She and I discussed the challenges facing the industry and how we can address them.

We celebrated EMS day this past week at the Capital. The men and women working in our emergency services are committed to helping protect and save lives of Georgians often putting their lives at risk. It was an honor to spend some time with them to hear more about how we can help our emergency service responders. Thanks to Rafe Waters, and Karen Beasley Grabenstine for taking the time with Rep. Lee Hawkins and I.

When we return to the Gold Dome on Monday, March 6, my colleagues and I are scheduled to complete Legislative Day 28, otherwise known as Crossover Day. Crossover Day is the deadline for legislation to be passed out of its chamber of origin to remain eligible for consideration to become law this year.

We will continue to address the many bills coming to the House floor in the days ahead, and I encourage you to reach out to me about any legislation that interests you. and I welcome any opportunity to hear feedback from my constituents.
My capitol office is located at:
501-F Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg
Atlanta, GA 30334,

My office phone number is 404-656-0178, and my official email address is

Please feel free to reach out to me anytime.

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative,

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