Mar. 29 – 4:45 pm - Hidden Predator Act of 2018 passes, Extending Years an Abuser, or an ‘Agency’ that Covered Up, Can Be Sued

Category: Georgia Business News

PHOTO: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, with his wife, speaking to the body of the Georgia Senate, where he has served since he was 28 years of age, either as a senator, or as Lt Gov. - the President of the Senate.

By Lou Phelps, Savannah Business Journal

March 29, 2018 - SB 401 as amended by the House, was the first piece of business as the House and Senate returned to work after their lunch break. It passed, striking all matters in lines 1 through 25, as the Senate reconvenes on the last day of the 2018 Legislative session. A long list of bills and resolutions are still ahead of both the House and the Senate bodies. 

But the afternoon session of the Senate also featured a salute to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who is serving his last day in the Senate, after electing to run for Governor.  He was first elected a senator at 28 years of age, from Gainesville, GA. And, later Lt. Governor, making him the President of the Senate.  Three prior Lt. Governors of Georgia were on hand for a brief ceremony.

Getting back to work, a Conference Committee report on HB 217 reached the Senate. The bill would set language on imposition, rate, computation and exemptions from state income taxes, to increase the cap on contributions to certain scholarship organizations, specifically allowing private grants to the Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation for grants to public schools. The bill will be voted on later today.

And throughout the afternoon, other "messages" were received from the House to the Senate, on action on Senate bills that passed Tuesday, or on House bills that the Senate had amended - whether the House would accept the amendments.  

In work in the afternoon, the following bills moved in the Senate: 

SB 190 passed, with the Senate accepting the House amendment.

SB 202 Sen. Michael Rhett insisted on a substitution to SB 202, so a Conference Committee was set up.  That will delay action on the bill until later in the day.

HB 605, the Hidden Predator Act of 2018, as amended, passed the Senate Tuesday by 51 – 0, a unanimous vote. The bill continues to amend Georgia’s laws on when a victim of child sexual abuse can file a civil suit to seek damages from an abuse, and adds language allowing victims to be able to sue those institutions, agencies or groups who “intentionally concealed” or cover up known abuse. The amended language debated today allows Plaintiffs to sue for financial damages up to the age they turn 31, but no longer than 12 years after the abuse. Previously, they could only sue up the age of 23 about an event of childhood abuse.  The bill had been fought by the Boy Scouts of Georgia and the Catholic Church, according to multiple media sources. The legislation was filed by Sen. Jason Spencer, who explained the specifics of the bill, one of which provides $3,000 for victims of abuse to seek counseling. He is a professional counselor.

“We (legislative committee) felt that these are fair parameters for all parties,” said Sen. Spencer. “We focused on the right thing to do for the children of Georgia, and to protect entities that DO want to report issues, but want to continue to work.”  It does not affect mandated reporting laws.

HB 795 passed 53 – 1, as amended, which will allow the Dept. of Labor to do criminal background checks, including fingerprint checks, to comply with Federal law. The House approved the bill 165 – 0 back on Feb. 15.

HB 956 – Georgia Veterinary Practice Act, as amended, updates the state’s board duties, and includes a number of enhancements to current laws, such as if a person is bitten by a dog, the dog’s rabies vaccination records must be produced by the vet within 24 hours. The bill requires that before criminal charges are filed, a law enforcement officer should consult with a vet from the department to decide if the conduct in questions is within practice standards. It passed 46 – 6.  

A break began as 4:45 p.m. as Cagle and his staff worked on an status update of bills that still have to come before the Senate before adjournment tonight. 

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