Georgia's Legislative Session: Adoption, Education and Sex Trafficking #RaisetheAge

January 29, 2018

 

The Georgia General Assembly is in session - Week 3: Jan 29 thru  Feb 1st

 

As we recognize the importance of bipartisan leadership within the legislative body, we earnestly work across the aisles to ensure great outcomes for all people.  To this end, areas important to the position of the AAJJP, FemaleNOTFeemale and the Law Mobile are as follows and are presented in alphabetical order.

 

Adoption (Considering the number of displaced minority children and those suffering deprivation and delinquency, foster care placement and adoption are critical issues facing the minority community.)

 

SB 131, will require a stay (hold) of adoption proceedings until a parent with an unfavorable decision and loss of parental rights has time to appeal the termination of parental rights order. This bill also considers modification of juvenile court orders and authorizes modifications of judgments at the sole discretion of the juvenile court judge only.

 

HB 159 was introduced by Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta), HB 159 attempts to revise and update the adoption code (Title 19, Article 8).

 

Child Abuse/Education

HB 655 was introduced by Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville).  HB 655 seeks to require all public schools to visibly post the toll-free child abuse reporting hotline.   

 

Children/Guardianship

HB 668, is introduced by Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell) to authorize the filing of a petition for guardianship for a proposed ward that is 17 years-old, but only if the petitioner can established that the child will require guardian upon turning 18.

 

Children/Sex Trafficking

HB 732 was introduced by Deborah Silcox (R-Sandy Springs) and SB 335 was introduced by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford)  will amend O.C.G.A. 16-5-46, to expand the offense of trafficking of persons for sexual servitude.  The amendment will add language to include patronizing an individual to perform sexually explicit conduct.  This bill also seeks to require a mandatory prison term of 5 to 20 years. 

 

Sen. Renee Unterman also introduced SR 588 to recognize January as Human Trafficking Month at the state capitol.

 

Education

HB 740 was introduced by Randy Nix (R-LaGrange) and will prohibit children in kindergarten through third grader from being expelled or suspended from school for a period of 5 or more days if they are not screened for a vision screening, hearing screening, and a speech-language assessment. The exception would include possession of a weapon, drugs, or other dangerous instrument or behavior that is dangerous to the school or students. If the child has special needs, then the school must convene the IEP team meeting to consider other programs or services more suitable for the child.

 

Sex Offenses

SB 145 was introduced by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) seeks to make rape gender neutral (to apply to boys and girls and women and men). to revise the offense of rape for to make it gender-neutral in application. To effectuate that objective, references to aggravated sodomy and aggravated sexual battery are eliminated throughout the amended sections. Further, this bill attempts to remove aggravated sodomy and aggravated sexual battery from the offenses for which children can be prosecuted and sentenced as adults.

 

SB 326 was introduced by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) on "Sheltering Adolescent from Destructive Environments (Sade's) Law," solely authorizes only  a the child's legal custodian, adult blood relative, or stepparent to bail a child for detention or jail.  They must provide a  sworn and notarized affidavit regarding their relationship to the child prior to posting bail for the child.  It requires that a background check be performed on every person taken into custody to ensure that they are not reported as missing persons or subject to sex trafficking.

 

Although the State of Georgia still has not conformed with the rest of the United States to raise the age of juveniles subject to the superior court jurisdiction from 17 to 18 years of age and it has not conformed with most of the country to raise the age of mandatory school attendance from 16 to 18. We recognize these goals for 2017/2018 session.

    

Finally, the State of Georgia should consider the traumatic experiences suffered by children who are subjected to strip searches.  The State of Colorado Division of Youth Services recently adopted new guidelines that Georgia should consider.

 

 

The Senate Judiciary Committee has announced meetings to be held at its regularly scheduled times of Monday and Thursday at 4pm in room 307 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building

 

AAJJP, FemaleNOTFeemale and the Law Mobile are nonpartisan, but will earnestly work across the aisles to attain bipartisan support of legislation that is of importance to our programs and services.

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