News from Rep. Pam Dickerson | Georgia House District 113
April 9, 2015
Rep. Pam Dickerson

The 2015 session of the Georgia General Assembly reached final adjournment on April 2. This newsletter covers legislative action taking place during the final week of the session.  


I am pleased to report that HB 131, the End to Cyberbullying Act, which I introduced, received final approval by the House and Senate and now awaits the signature of Gov. Nathan Deal to become law. This legislation would expand public school anti-bullying policies to include any bullying that occurs online and through cell phones and other wireless communications devices. I thank my colleagues for their support on this important issue. Also, the language of HB 103, Kelsey's Law, which I co-sponsored, was successfully added to another bill that passed and awaits the Governor's signature. 


Please plan to join us at Denny Dobbs Park for our Family Fun Day on June 6, which I co-host with Congressman Hank Johnson, Sen. Ronald Ramsey, Sheriff Ezell Brown and Commissioner Lanier Sims. Enjoy hamburgers, hot dogs, drinks and DJ entertainment from noon to 4 p.m.


Also, I will sponsor a Women's Health fair in September. Be on the lookout for details in a future newsletter. 


Please feel free to contact me with your views on the issues facing our state, or whenever I can be of service. Thank you for allowing me to continue to serve you in the Georgia General Assembly.

Rep. Pam Dickerson 

Rep. Dickerson welcomes recording artist Ne-Yo to the State Capitol.

Rep. Dickerson congratulates former Atlanta Falcons All-Pro linebacker Jesse Tuggle, who was honored by the House along with other past Falcons greats.

Rep. Dickerson thanks John Brown for his service as a page in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Dickerson congratulates Jim Tudor, who is retiring as lobbyist for the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores.

Rep. Dickerson addresses her colleagues from the well of the House.

Rep. Dickerson and colleagues Rep. Earnest Smith and Rep. Winfred Dukes mark the end of a long 40th day of the 2015 legislative session at midnight on April 2.

Georgia State Capitol
Transportation Funding Act awaits Governor's signature 


The House of Representatives and Senate reached final agreement March 31 on legislation to generate an estimated $900 million in additional annual funding for maintenance and improvements to Georgia's roads, bridges and transit systems.


As approved, HB 170 would consolidate the state's current excise and sales taxes on motor fuel into a single excise tax of 26 cents per gallon for gasoline and 29 cents per gallon for diesel fuel. Those rates would be adjusted annually to reflect changes in fuel efficiency standards


To make up for potential losses in sales tax revenue, county governments would be able to seek voter approval for a local sales tax of up to 1 percent, in .05 percent increments, on motor fuel. The legislation would also implement a $5 per night state hotel/motel tax and eliminate Georgia's current tax exemption on jet fuel for airline carriers.


Additional revenue would come from the elimination of a $5,000 state income tax credit on the purchase of an electric vehicle and the establishment of a new annual fee on electric vehicles of $200 for cars and $300 for commercial vehicles, whose owners use the highway system but pay no motor fuel taxes. An annual fee of $50 to $100 would also be charged on heavy trucks.


The legislation also specifically requires the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank to make every effort to balance any loans or other financial assistance equally among all regions of the state and authorizes preference to eligible projects in tier 1 and tier 2 counties, as designated by economic statistics, as well as projects with local financial support.


To become law, HB 170 needs only to be signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, who has already announced he will do so.


Lawmakers approve $21.8 billion budget for fiscal year 2016


On March 31, the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve a $21.8 billion annual state budget plan for fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1.


As approved, the budget reflects an estimated revenue increase of $900 million over the current year. The majority of new funds will go toward K-12 education, with additional appropriations going to local school systems for eliminating furlough days, raising teacher pay and continuing health insurance coverage for bus drivers and cafeteria workers. Education accounts for 55 percent of the overall budget.


The final version of the budget legislation (HB 76) includes the following appropriations:

  • $280 million to restore previous Quality Basic Education funding cuts to local school systems.
  • $100 million for repairing bridges.
  • $94 million to fully fund the Teacher Retirement System.
  • $17 million in additional state payments to Medicaid providers.
  • $3 million to improve the financial health of struggling rural hospitals.
  • $2.5 million for the Georgia Film Academy to train workers for the film and video industry.

The budget also includes a $1.1 billion bond package for new construction projects, including $75 million for transportation improvements.


Barrier to high school diploma removed


On March 30, legislation that will retroactively provide former students who did not pass the Georgia High School Graduation Test with the opportunity to earn a high school diploma was signed into law by Gov. Deal.


The graduation test was phased out three years ago, but it remained a barrier for some students who attended high school when graduation was partly contingent on passing the exam.


HB 91 will allow students who had failed the test but met all other graduation requirements to petition their local school board to obtain a diploma from their high school. The legislation was approved overwhelmingly by the House and Senate.


Individuals no longer enrolled in public school who were denied a high school diploma solely for not achieving a passing score on any of the graduation tests and met all other local and state requirements may submit a petition to their local school system to determine their eligibility to receive a high school diploma under this new law. There is no deadline for filing this petition.


Final approval for autism insurance requirement


The House gave final approval to legislation requiring Georgia insurance carriers to cover the costs of treatments for young autism patients.


Under an amended version of HB 429, health insurers will provide autism spectrum disorder treatment coverage for children ages 6 and under, with benefits limited to $35,000 per year. The measure also incorporates insurance guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of autism in young patients.


Additionally, HB 429 prohibits health insurance plans, including Medicaid and the State Health Benefit Plan, from denying coverage for or placing restrictions on end-of-life care.


Other legislation receiving final approval in the session's final days included:

  • HB 70, which would designate the white-tailed deer as Georgia's official state mammal.
  • HB 110, which would legalize and regulate the sale of fireworks in Georgia.
  • HB 162, which would allow insurance companies to conduct self-audits to ensure practices are legally compliant.
  • HB 190, which would require ride-sharing network companies such as Uber and Lyft to maintain commercial liability insurance coverage for their drivers.
  • HB 202, which would provide temporary tax incentives to Mercedes Benz USA, which is moving its corporate headquarters to Georgia, and to Truett-McConnell College for a campus expansion project.
  • HB 213, which would enable MARTA to expend sales tax revenues on operational expenses, above the current limitation that requires 50 percent of sales tax funding to go toward bonded indebtedness for construction projects. A provision added by the Senate that would have allowed an increase in the MARTA sales tax from 1 to 1.5 percent was removed by the House.
  • HB 233, which would revise the state's civil forfeiture law dealing with the handling and disposition of cars, cash and other contraband seized by law enforcement officers.
  • HB 279, which would increase the salaries of Georgia's Supreme Court justices, Court of Appeals and Superior Court judges, district attorneys and public defenders, as well as add three new judges' positions to the Court of Appeals.
  • HB 515, which would authorize a referendum on the incorporation of the proposed city of Tucker.
  • HB 520, which would authorize a referendum on the incorporation of the proposed city of LaVista Hills.
  • SR 7 and SB 8, which would establish the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund and increase criminal penalties against convicted sex traffickers.
  • SB 76, which would require drivers to stop at crosswalks with flashing lights for pedestrian safety.
  • SB 89, which would allow local schools to use digital and electronic software in place of textbooks and encourages local school boards to purchase all instructional materials in digital or electronic formats for students starting in third grade by July 1, 2020.
  • SB 132, the "Move on When Ready Act," which would allow high school students to take post-secondary classes for dual credit.

All of these bills now go to Gov. Deal for his signature.


Legislation failing to achieve final passage by the House and Senate, but still pending for the 2016 session, includes:

  • HB 194, which would have reduced the early voting period for Georgia elections.
  • HB 514, which would have authorized a referendum on the incorporation of the proposed city of South Fulton.
  • SB 129, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
  • SB 184, which would have prohibited city and county governments from regulating or banning specific breeds of dogs in their jurisdictions.
Rep. Dickerson's Legislation
Recent action on legislation sponsored or co-sponsored by Rep. Pam Dickerson:

HB 131 The End to Cyberbullying Act; enact (approved by House and Senate, awaits Governor's signature)

HB 683 Rockdale County; Redevelopment Powers Law; provide for a referendum (under consideration in House Intragovernmental Coordination Committee)

HR 766 House Study Committee on Bullying in Schools; create (favorably reported by House Education Committee)

HR 768 House Study Committee on Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse; create (adopted by House)

HR 787 Governor Nathan Deal; establish Diabetes Control Grant Advisory Board; encourage (under consideration in House Health & Human Services Committee)

HR 935 Tabernacle Church of God in Christ; 100th anniversary; commend (adopted by House)

HR 939 Hassen, Ridwan; 2015 Rhodes Scholar; commend (adopted by House)

Click here for all of Rep. Dickerson's 2015-2016 legislation.

Contact Rep. Dickerson
At the Capitol:
611-E Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Atlanta, GA 30334
Phone 404-656-0314
In the District:
P.O. Box 1016, Conyers, GA 30013
Phone 678-207-6043