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Barton Child Law and Policy Center Newsletter
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Dear Child Advocates, this update contains:
Georgia Capitol Update
Bills of Interest to Child Advocates
Next Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy February 28
Follow Us on Twitter!
Georgia Capitol Update

Last week the General Assembly was in session for four legislative days.  Highlights of the week of February 6-10 include:

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee gave a unanimous favorable report on SB 127, the Child Protection and Public Safety Act, on Wednesday, February 15, 2012.  This bill, which would comprehensively reform Georgia's juvenile code, now awaits consideration by the full Senate.      
  • The Senate passed SB 366, relating to contraband in Department of Juvenile Justice facilities, on Thursday, February 16, 2012.  The bill now awaits consideration by the House Non-Civil Judiciary Committee.    

This week the General Assembly will be in session for three legislative days, Wednesday through Friday.  Some highlights of particular interest to child advocates include:

  • Georgia CAN will meet on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 in room 122 of the Capitol.  
  • The House Civil Judiciary Committee will consider its version of the Child Protection and Public Safety Act, HB 641, on Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 2pm in room 132 of the Capitol

Please note that information on meetings and legislative schedule is current as of Monday, February 20, 2012.  Hearing times change frequently during the session, so you may want to check the Georgia General Assembly or other organizations' web sites for the any changes. 

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Bills of Interest to Child Advocates

 

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 was considered by the House Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, February 1, 2012, but no vote was taken.    

  

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 received a favorable recommendation from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, March 24, 2011 but never received a vote in the full SenateIt has been recommitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee.   

 

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 6-8 and 8-10 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  awaits consideration by 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 awaits consideration by the House Education Committee on March 11, 2011.     

 

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  awaits consideration by 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 awaits consideration by 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 awaits consideration by the House Civil Judiciary Committee.

  

HB 676 was introduced by Representative Ben Harbin (R-Evans) on January 13, 2012.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 17-3-1 and 17-3-2.1 to eliminate the statute of limitations on sexual crimes committed against a child under the age of 16, so that these prosecutions could be brought at any time, no matter how long after the alleged crime was committed. HB 676 has been assigned to the House Non-Civil Judiciary Committee.    

  

HB 711 was introduced by Representative Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta) on January 11, 2012.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 24-5-503 to expand the circumstances in which a person can be forced to testify against his or her spouse.  Specifically, in cases where one spouse is accused of a crime against a child, the testifying spouse could be compelled to give any evidence relevant to the case. Additionally, if a spouse is accused of a crime against the other spouse, such as domestic violence, the victim spouse could be compelled to give testimony.  Additionally, the bill would create a new privilege, protecting communications between a victim and an advocate at a family violence, sexual assault, or rape crisis program.  HB 711 passed the House on Tuesday, February 7, 2012. It has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

  

HB 748 was introduced by Representative Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville) on January 23, 2012.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 19-8-23 and 31-10-14 to allow adult adoptees, or, if the adoptee is deceased, his or her parent, sibling, or descendant, to receive a copy of their original birth certificate  HB 748 received a favorable recommendation from the House Civil Judiciary Committee on Thursday, February 9, 2012.  It now awaits consideration by the full House.    

 

HB 856 was introduced by Representative Sandra Scott (D-Rex) on February 1, 2012.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 20-2-765, 20-2-766, and 20-2-766.1 to add provisions regarding parental involvement in cases involving a child who has problems at school.  The bill would add new code section 20-2-785, which states that if a parent fails to attend 2 or more conferences requested by the school principal to address a child's failing grade in any class or subject, a court could order the parent to perform 20 hours of volunteer work at the school or the family may be referred to the Division of Family and Children Services for deprivation proceedings. HB 856 has been assigned to the House Education Committee.        

 

HB 948 was introduced by Representative Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) on February 9, 2012.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 19-7-5 relating to mandatory reporting of child abuse to add clergy to the list of professionals required to report suspected child abuse.  This bill includes an exception for confidential communications between the clergy and a perpetrator.  Additionally, the bill would clarify the existing categories of reporters in schools and child service organizations. HB 948 has been assigned to the House Non-Civil Judiciary Committee.  

 

HB 974, Caylee Anthony's Law, was introduced by Representative B.J. Pak (R-Lilburn) on February 15, 2012.  This bill would create a new code section, O.C.G.A. 16-5-70.1, to require a parent or other person with legal responsibility for a child who is under the age of 13 to  maintain contact or verify the child's location and well-being at least once every 18 hours.  Failing to report a child as missing after failing to meet the check-in requirement would be a felony with a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment.  The bill would also amend O.C.G.A. 16-10-31 to make it a felony to fail to report the death of child under the age of 16 within 12 hours, unless the child was in hospice or attended by a doctor at the time of his or her death. HB 974 has been assigned to the House Non-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 awaits consideration by the House Children and Youth Committee.  

 

HR 1151 was introduced by Representative Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville) on January 24, 2012.  This resolution would create a joint study commission on human trafficking.  The study commission would be tasked with reviewing and making recommendations for a comprehensive system of services for child victims of commercial sexual exploitation. HR 1151 passed the House on Tuesday, February 7, 2012.  It has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

 

HR 1277 was introduced by Representative Yasmin Neal (D-Jonesboro) on February 6, 2012.  This resolution would create a House study commission on "expulsion schools" to educate children who have been permanently expelled from the regular school system.  The study commission would consist of 5 members of the House, and would be specifically tasked with evaluating boarding school alternatives, among others.  HR 1277 has been assigned to the House Education 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 was passed by the Senate on February 23, 2011, received a favorable recommendation from the House Civil Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, March 30, 2011, but never received a vote in the full House.  It has been recommitted to the House Civil Judiciary 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 awaits consideration by the Senate Education and Youth Committee. 

   

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 awaits consideration by 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.  SB 127 received a favorable recommendation from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, February 15, 2012.  It now awaits consideration by the full Senate.  A companion bill, HB 641, was introduced by Representative Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) on April 12, 2011, and will be considered by the House Civil Judiciary Committee on Thursday, February 23, 2012 in room 132 of the Capitol.    

      

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  awaits consideration by the Senate Judiciary 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 13 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 awaits consideration by 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 petition brought by a single person who is living with an 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 awaits consideration by the Senate Special Judiciary Committee.        

 

SB 316 was introduced by Senator Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton) on January 24, 2012.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 17-3-1, and 17-3-2.1 to extend the statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions stemming from the sexual abuse of a child.  Specifically, sexual crimes committed against children under the age of 16 could be prosecuted until 10 years after their 18th birthdays. SB 316 received a favorable recommendation from the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 9, 2012, and now awaits consideration on the Senate floor.  

 

SB 341 was introduced by Senator Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) on January 25, 2012.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 15-11-63 to clarify that, for the purpose of determining whether a child qualified under the designated felony statute for the child's fourth felony offense, prior felonies could have been adjudicated in any state, not just Georgia.  It would also amend O.C.G.A. 15-11-66 to extend the short-term program disposition option in delinquency cases from its current 30 days to 90 days in a Youth Development Center. SB 341 has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.    

 

SB 355 was introduced by Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) on January 30, 2012.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 19-7-5 relating to the legal requirement to report child abuse.  Those professionals who are currently required to report would continue to have to report to DFCS within 24 hours. Any other person who has reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused would be required to report that belief to law enforcement within 36 hours. The bill provides an exception to protect attorney-client confidentiality. SB 355 was considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 1, 2012, but held for further work and consideration.  

 

SB 366 was introduced by Senator Johnny Grant (R-Milledgeville) on February 1, 2012.  This bill would amend O.C.G.A. 49-4A-11 and add new code section 49-4A-15 to expand the list of items considered to be contraband in juvenile detention centers.  The bill would prohibit bringing telecommunications devices and other contraband past the guard line of a Department of Juvenile Justice facility, and would also prohibit anyone from giving any item to a child in such facility without permission.  SB 366 passed the Senate on February 16, 2012, and has been assigned to the House Non-Civil Judiciary Committee.   

       

A number of new bills would create new requirements for people receiving or applying to receive public assistance.  While not directly related to juvenile court, these bills could have substantial impact on the families served by juvenile courts because of the high rates of poverty and substance abuse these families face. These bills are: 
  • HB 646, introduced on March 4, 2011 by Representative Michael Harden (R-Toccoa), would require adult recipients of state or state-administered federal public assistance to submit to random drug testing, at their own expense, one per year.  Refusal to comply or failure of the drug test would make the person ineligible for benefits for 2 years.  
  • HB 668, introduced on January 10, 2012 by Representative Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine), would require all applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to be drug tested at their own expense as a condition of eligibility for benefits.  The bill states that the eligibility of the children of a parent who tests positive would not be affected, but an alternate payee would be identified.
  • HB 697, introduced on January 10, 2012 by Representative Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), would require all recipients of unemployment benefits to submit to random drug testing, the cost of which would be deducted from their benefits. Those who test positive would be ineligible for benefits for up to two years.
  • HB 698introduced on January 10, 2012 by Representative Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), would require all recipients of state-administered federal public assistance to submit to random drug testing.  The recipient would be required to pay for up to one test per year. 
  •  HB 699introduced on January 10, 2012 by Representative Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), would require all recipients of state public assistance or state-administered federal public assistance to submit to random drug testing.  A person who tests positive would be ineligible for benefits for a year. The bill states that a dependent child's eligibility for assistance would not be affected by a parent's positive test.
  • HB 861, introduced on February 1, 2012 by Representative Michael Harden (R-Toccoa), would require drug testing of applicants prior to the receipt of public benefits, random drug testing of existing benefit recipients, and drug testing of all benefit recipients arrested for a drug-related offense.  Law enforcement would be required to report drug related offenses to the Department of Human Services within 7 days of arrest.     
  • SB 292, introduced on January 11, 2012 by Senator John Albers (R-Roswell), mirrors the provisions of HB 668.    
  • SB 312, introduced on January 23, 2012 by Senator William Ligon (R-Brunswick), would require recipients of TANF and food stamps to participate in personal growth activities, including working toward a GED, and enrolling in technical school, adult literacy classes, or self-development classes.    

All of the House public assistance bills have been assigned to the House Civil Judiciary Committee.  The Senate bills have been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.  

 
 
  

Next Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy, Tuesday, February 28, 2012  

 

School Discipline Issues and Children in Foster Care   

 

The February session of the GA Child Welfare Legal Academy is scheduled for Tuesday, February 28, 2012, from 1:00 until 3:15 p.m. in room 575 of Gambrell Hall at Emory University School of Law.  

 

Guest speakers will discuss school discipline issues for youth in foster care.  Findings from Georgia Appleseed's Effective School Discipline Report will be presented.  Case examples of the flow of a student discipline case at the local school and district level and the role of the local school board and appeals before the State Board of Education will also be discussed.  Our Visiting Scholars in Practice include:

 

  • Brad Bryant, Executive Director, GA Foundation for Public Education
  • Quentin Fretwell, Director, Department of Student Relations, DeKalb County
  • Robert Rhodes, Director of Legal Affairs, GA Appleseed Center for Law and Justice


Seating is limited.  On-line registration is strongly encouraged at http://www.regonline.com/schooldiscipline. The nonrefundable registration fee for all participants is $10 and includes materials, 3-hour parking in the hospital visitor parking deck, and light refreshments.


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 (preferred) at the door. Please make checks payable to Emory University
 

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