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Dear Child Advocates, this update contains:
Georgia General Assembly Session Ends
Bills of Interest to Child Advocates
Fulton County Exits Kenny A. Oversight
Next Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy April 21
Follow Us on Twitter!
Georgia General Assembly Session Ends
  
Last week the General Assembly was in session for the last three days of its 2011 regular session.  Sine Die, the last day of the session, was Thursday, April 14, 2011.  All bills that passed by that day now go on to the Governor, and he has 40 days to either sign or veto them.  If he takes no action on a bill, it automatically becomes law after the expiration of the 40 days.  Because we are in the first year of a biennial session, any bill that did not pass this session is still able to be considered next year. 

Some highlights of the final week include:
  • HB 633, which would create a centralized child abuse reporting system (see description below), was introduced by Representative Mary Margaret Oliver on Monday, April 11, 2011.
  • SB 94,  which is now the Runaway Youth Safety Act, was agreed to by the Senate on Thursday, April 14, 2011 (see description below).
  • The Conference Committee worked out a compromise budget for FY 2012, which passed both chambers on Thursday, April 14, 2011.  Most government agencies suffered cuts again for the coming year, including the Department of Human Services, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Governor's Office for Children and Families, the Office of the Child Advocate, and the Council of Juvenile Court Judges.  Specific line items of interest in the final budget include the elimination of funding for the EMBRACE contract and preservation of funds for Family Connection Partnership in the DHS budget.  Additionally, the final budget includes a cut of approximately 25% of the funds for judicial citizen review panels from the budget for the Council of Juvenile Court Judges.
  • House Civil Judiciary Committee Chairman Wendell Willard introduced HB 641, the House version of the Child Protection and Public Safety Act (introduced in the Senate by Judiciary Chairman Bill Hamrick as SB 127).   HB 641 has been assigned to the House Civil Judiciary Committee, and will be the subject of joint hearings between the House and the Senate through the off-session.
  • HB 373, the bill allowing courts to consider a child's good behavior and rehabilitative progress in considering motions to modify custody to the Department of Juvenile Justice (see full description below), was agreed to by the House on Thursday April 14, 2011.

See below for a full list of juvenile court related bills that passed the General Assembly and those that did not for 2011.

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Bills of Interest to Child Advocates

 

Bills That Passed in 2011

 

HB 200 was introduced by Representative Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta) on February 10, 2011.  This  bill amends Georgia's anti-human trafficking law, which encompasses the commercial sexual exploitation of children, to: (1) clarify its offenses, (2) substantially increase penalties, (3) allow for forfeiture of property related to the crime, (4) limit use of the victim's sexual history, relation to the defendant, and ability to consent as a defense to sex trafficking, (5) provide that a person will not be guilty of a prostitution-related crime if the act was committed under coercion or deception while the person was a human trafficking victim, (6) clarify that victims of human trafficking are eligible for victim's compensation, (7) establish training for law enforcement on human trafficking issues, including appropriate treatment of victims, and (8) empower the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to investigate human trafficking cases and obtain subpoenas compelling compliance with those investigations. HB 200  passed the House on March 2, 2011, and the Senate on Tuesday, March 29, 2011.  It now awaits signature by the Governor.

   

HB 314, known as "Jessie's Law," was introduced by Representative Tom Dickson (R-Cohutta) on February 23, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 20-2-692.2 to allow children in foster care to leave school to attend court hearings in their deprivation cases without being counted absent for part or all of the school day.  HB 314 passed the House on March 11, 2011, and the Senate on Tuesday, April 12, 2011.  It now awaits signature by the Governor.

 

HB 373 was introduced by Representative BJ Pak (R-Lilburn) on February 28, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 15-11-63 to allow the Department of Juvenile Justice or a child to bring a motion to modify custody when the child has been committed to the Department following an adjudication for a designated felony.  The bill allows the court to recognize a child's good behavior and academic and rehabilitative progress by granting release from restrictive custody.  The motion must be accompanied by a recommendation by the child's DJJ counselor, can only be filed after the child had served a year in custody, and cannot be refiled more than once a year.  HB 373 passed the House on March 14, 2011, and the Senate passed it with a minor amendment to the timing of notice to the victim that the court is considering a motion on Monday, April 11, 2011. The House agreed to the Senate amendment on Thursday, April 14, 2011.  It now awaits signature by the Governor.

   

SB 94 was introduced by Senator Bill Heath (R-Bremen) on February 16, 2011, and passed the Senate February 28, 2011 as a gun bill.  On Thursday, March 24, 2011, the House Non-Civil Judiciary Committee, with permission of the sponsor, replaced its contents with Runaway Youth Safety Act.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 16-5-45 relating to interference with custody and O.C.G.A. 16-12-1 relating to contributing to the unruliness of a minor to provide a limited exception to misdemeanor liability for licensed or registered shelters providing services to runaway youth as long as they either contact a parent or DFCS within the first 72 hours of contact with the child.  SB 94  passed the House on March 31, 2011, and the Senate agreed to the substitute content on Thursday, April 14, 2011.

 

SB 112, the Military Parents' Rights Act, was introduced by Senator Joshua McKoon (R-Columbus) on February 22, 2011.  This bill would add a new part to O.C.G.A. Title 19, Chapter 9, Article 2, to provide additional protections to military parents regarding court actions affecting their custody and other rights to their children immediately before, during, or after deployment.   SB 112 passed the Senate on Monday, March 14, 2011, and passed the House with minor amendments on April 12, 2011.  The Senate agreed to the House amendments on Thursday, April 14, 2011

 

SB 115 was introduced by Senator Hardie Davis (D-Augusta) on February 22, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 19-6-15 to exclude foster care maintenance payments from calculations of a person's income for purposes of determining child support.  SB 115 passed the Senate on March 4, 2011, and the House on Tuesday, April 12, 2011.

 

SB 172 was introduced by Senator David Shafer (R-Duluth) on March 1, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. Title 19, Chapter 8 to require pre-placement home studies in most private adoptions.  The bill was amended to include the contents of HB 65, which would amend O.C.G.A. 19-8-23 to expand the categories of people who can access adoption records and the information they can access.  Specifically, it would add the child, legal guardian, or health care agent of an adopted party to the parties of interest in an adoption who can access medical information on the adopted person or biological parents, and clarify that health history is part of the information they are entitled to access. SB 172 passed the Senate on March 16, 2011, and the House with amendments including the addition of HB 65's content on April 12, 2011.  The Senate agreed to the House amendments on April 14, 2011.

   

Bills That Did Not Pass in 2011

 

HB 23, the Foster Children's Psychotropic Medication Monitoring Act, was introduced by Representative Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) on January 24, 2011. This bill requires the Department of Human Services to create procedures to ensure that the psychotropic medication administered to children in foster care is appropriate, delivered with informed consent of the parent and the child if the child is 14 or over, and is monitored for side effects and continued efficacy.  The bill would also require the Department of Human Services to keep records of the medications and other therapies received or recommended for a child. HB 23 will begin 2012 committed to the House Health and Human Services Committee.

 

HB 65 was introduced by Representative Tom McCall (R-Elberton) on January 26, 2011. This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 19-8-23 to expand the categories of people who can access adoption records and the information they can access.  Specifically, it would add the child, legal guardian, or health care agent of an adopted party to the parties of interest in an adoption who can access medical information on the adopted person or biological parents, and clarify that health history is part of the information they are entitled to access. Although HB 65 did not pass, it's contents were inserted into SB 172, which did pass (see above).

 

HB 185, the Runaway Youth Safety Act, was introduced by Representative Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold) on February 9, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 16-5-45 relating to interference with custody and O.C.G.A. 16-12-1 relating to contributing to the unruliness of a minor to provide a limited exception to misdemeanor liability for licensed or registered shelters providing services to runaway youth as long as they either contact a parent or DFCS within the first 72 hours of contact with the child.  HB 185 received a favorable recommendation from the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee on March 10, 2011.  Although the bill did not pass the full House by cross-over day, its language has now been inserted into SB 94  (see above).

 

HB 230 was introduced by Representative Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) on February 10, 2011.  This bill would add a new code section to Chapter 2 of Title 20 to require local boards of education to develop a curriculum to teach children in grades six through eight and eight through ten about the potential liability for committing certain offenses, with an emphasis on felonies for which they can be charged as adults and sexual offenses.  HB 230  will begin the 2012 legislative session committed to the House Education Committee.

 

HB 267 was introduced by Representative Sheila Jones (D-Smyrna) on February 17, 2011.  This bill would add a new code section to O.C.G.A. Title 20, Chapter 2 to require the Department of Education to develop a comprehensive strategy to inform children in grades 4-12 about the dangers of "sexting," or sending explicit images via text message.  HB 267 will begin the 2012 legislative session committed to the House Education Committee on March 11, 2011.

 

HB 272 was introduced by Representative Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold) on February 17, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 15-11-21 to eliminate the option for cases heard before an associate judge in juvenile court to be reheard before a full juvenile court judge. HB 272 will begin the 2012 legislative session committed to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

 

HB 282, the Military Parents' Rights Act, was introduced by Representative John Yates (R-Griffin) on February 22, 2011.  This bill would add a new part to O.C.G.A. Title 19, Chapter 9, Article 2, to provide additional protections to military parents regarding court actions affecting their custody and other rights to their children immediately before, during, or after deployment.   HB 282 has been referred to the House Civil Judiciary Committee.  Although this bill did not pass by cross-over day, a companion, SB 112, passed the full Senate on Monday, March 14, 2011 (see above).

 

HB 471 was introduced by Representative Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) on March 7, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 15-11-46.1 to require that an objective, written assessment instrument be used to determine whether detention of a child in a Regional Youth Detention Center or alternate out-of-home setting is appropriate for a child who has been arrested.  The bill also clarifies that keeping a child in secure detention prior to adjudication and disposition should be done rarely, and only if less restrictive options have been determined to be inappropriate.  HB 471  will begin 2012 committed to the House Non-Civil Judiciary Committee. 

 

HB 529 was introduced by Representative Donna Sheldon (R-Dacula) on March 11, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 19-7-5 to expand the professionals required to report child abuse or neglect to include reproductive health clinics.  HB 529 will begin the 2012 legislative session committed to the House Non-Civil Judiciary Committee. 

 

HB 633 was introduced by Representative Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) on April 11, 2011.  This bill would add a new O.C.G.A. 19-7-7 to require the Department of Human Services to establish a state-wide, centralized child abuse reporting system that includes a toll-free number and an Internet-based reporting option.  The system would be accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for the general public to access for the purpose of making a child abuse report, but would not be used for mandatory child abuse reporters. HB 633 will begin the 2012 legislative session committed to House Civil Judiciary Committee.

 

HR 9 was introduced by Representative Roger Bruce (D-Atlanta) on February 1, 2011.  This resolution would create a joint study committee to look into the causes and effects of teen violence.  The joint study committee would be comprised of six appointed members and would issue a report including possible legislative recommendations by January 9, 2012.  HR 9 

will begin the 2012 legislative session committed to  the House Children and Youth Committee.

 

SB 14 was introduced by Senator Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) on January 26, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 20-2-690.1 to raise the age through which children are required to be in school from 16 to 17 years of age.  SB 14 will begin the 2012 legislative session committed to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.  

 

SB 31 was introduced by Senator Jason Carter (D-Decatur) on January 31, 2011.  This bill would expand the attorney-client privilege under O.C.G.A. 24-9-21 to cover parents' participation in private conversations with defense attorneys representing their children in delinquent or criminal cases. The bill states that only the child, not the parent, can waive the privilege.  SB 31 will begin the 2012 legislative session committed to the House Civil Judiciary Committee.

 

SB 43 was introduced by Senator Donzella James (D-College Park) on February 7, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 20-2-690.1 to expand the range of ages during which children are required to be in school from 6 to 16 years of age to 5 to 17 years of age, and to create exceptions where the child is not eligible for enrollment, has completed a GED or high school certificate program, or is enrolled in another appropriate educational program.  SB 43 will begin the 2012 legislative session committed to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.

 

SB 46 was introduced by Senator Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain) on February 7, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 20-2-143 to require that the sex education curriculum from students in grades 7 through 12 include information on dating violence, including warning signs, prevention, and resources for victims.  SB 46 will begin the 2012 legislative session committed to the Senate Education and Youth Committee. 

 

SB 49 was introduced by Senator John Albers (R-Roswell) on February 7, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 20-2-690.1 to raise the age through which children are required to be in school from 16 to 16.5 years of age. It would also amend O.C.G.A. 20-4-15 and 20-4-18 to reflect this change in age with respect to adult literacy and post secondary education programs. SB 49  received a favorable recommendation from Senate Education and Youth Committee but did not pass the full Senate by cross-over day.

 

HB 215 was introduced by Representative Paul Battles (R-Cartersville) on February 10, 2011.  This bills would add a new code section to Chapter 5 of Title 40 to prohibit people who have been convicted of crimes against children that would qualify them for registry as sex offenders from obtaining commercial driver's licenses for vehicles that transport 16 or more people.  HB 215 has been referred to the House Motor Vehicles Committee.  Although this bill did not pass by cross-over day, a companion, SB 57, passed the full Senate on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 (see above).

 

SB 105 was introduced by Senator Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur) on February 17, 2011.  This bill would require the Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice to create 3-member juvenile parole panels to review and, where appropriate, grant parole petitions relating to children committed to the Department as the result of an adjudication of delinquency for a designated felony.  The petition for parole may be brought by either the child or the Department, requires a recommendation by a Department counselor or placement supervisor, and may not be brought until after the child has been in the Department's custody for at least a year. SB 105 will begin the 2012 legislative session committed to the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

 

SB 127, the Child Protection and Public Safety Act, was introduced by Senator Bill Hamrick (R-Carrollton) on February 23, 2011.  This bill is a comprehensive revision of O.C.G.A. Title 15, Chapter 11, Georgia's juvenile code.  It reorganizes the code for ease of understanding and application, modernizes substantive provisions to reflect advances in research and practice, and brings Georgia into full compliance with federal laws applicable to juvenile court proceedings.  A companion bill, HB 641, was introduced by Representative Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) on April 12, 2011.  SB 127 has been committed to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and HB 641 has been committed to the House Civil Judiciary Committee.  Hearings are anticipated over the summer in preparation for the 2012 legislative session.

 

SB 164 was introduced by Senator Joshua McKoon (R-Columbus) on February 28, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 19-7-5 to expand the professionals required to report child abuse or neglect to include commercial film developers and picture processors, reproductive health clinics, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, and physical therapists.  SB 164  

will begin the 2012 legislative session committed to the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

  
SB 208, the Dropout Deterrent Act, was introduced by Senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) on March 4, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 20-2-690.1 to raise the age through which children are required to be in school from 16 to 17 years of age, and to allow the parent of a 16 year old to sign a waiver allowing the child to go to technical school or community college rather than a traditional public school. SB 208 will begin the 2012 legislative session committed to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.
  
SB 224 was introduced by Senator Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur) on March 7, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 15-11-28 to limit the cases where children aged thirteen or older would be automatically tried for aggravated child molestation in superior court rather than juvenile court to those where the victim is physically injured. SB 224 will begin the 2012 legislative session committed to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  
SB 247 was introduced by Senator Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) on March 10, 2011.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 19-8-3 to allow a judge presiding over an adoption of a child by a single person who is living with adult who would be a regular presence in the child's life to consider the nature of that relationship and whether it would be harmful or beneficial to the child in granting or denying the adoption. SB 247 will begin the 2012 legislative session committed to the Senate Special Judiciary Committee.
  
 
  

Fulton County Exits Kenny A. Oversight

 

Citing the "enormous strides" Fulton County has made in improving representation for children in its juvenile court deprivation proceedings, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia released the County from oversight under the consent decree in the Kenny A. v. Perdue class action lawsuit.  Congratulations to the Fulton County Office of the Child Attorney for their great work.

   

 

For more information on Kenny A. v. Perdue, see the materials on the Barton Center website.

 

 

Next Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy April 21, 2011

  

Collateral Consequences of our Current Criminal Justice System

 

Registration is still open for the next session of the GA Child Welfare Legal Academy this Thursday April 21st from 2:00 until 4:15 p.m.  Guest lecturer, Doug Ammar, the Executive Director of the Georgia Justice Project, will facilitate a discussion about justice using the story  Les MisÚrables.   This movie, which focuses on the struggles of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his experience of redemption, will give Doug a chance to explore how grace, justice and the different types of love are relevant to today's system of justice.  Doug will also look at our current criminal justice system and how it impacts the juvenile justice system and the child welfare system in Georgia.   

   

 Click here to register or for more details.

Seating is limited:  Online registration is strongly encouraged. The registration fee for all participants is $10.
 

Parking
: Your parking will be validated for 3 hours. Parking is limited to the Hospital Visitor deck, Lowergate (not Lowergate South).  Please reference http://www.law.emory.edu/about-emory-law/maps-directions.html for parking information and driving directions. 

CLE credit:
 2.0 regular CLE credits will be offered for this program for an additional fee of $10.00 payable by cash or check at the door. Please make checks payable to Emory University.  The program is also approved for 1.0 professionalism hour.

 

 

 

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