Special Legislative Session

Ordered by Gov. Nathan Deal for the Purpose of Providing Emergency Funding Following Hurricane Michael. This five-day session began on Nov. 13 and ended on Nov. 17.


Day 1 - Tuesday, Nov. 13: The House and Senate convened for the first legislative day of the 2018 Special Session for the limited purpose of providing emergency funding to state agencies and local governments following Hurricane Michael, which struck southwest Georgia on Oct. 10 as a Category 3 hurricane. 

The House introduced legislation that addresses the financial impact of Hurricane Michael on Georgia. The bill provides Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) with an additional $9,332,055 in the budget to expand its medical school to establish a four-year medical school campus in Columbus. The new campus will emphasize rural medicine and will gradually increase its student population to serve 240 medical students by 2027. Recruitment for the campus will target prospective students from Georgia's medically underserved populations and those willing to commit to practice in those communities after graduation.

The House Republicans held their caucus elections for the 2019 Legislative Session and had two changes to leadership positions. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) is the new Majority Whip and Micah Gravely (R-Douglasville) is the new Majority Caucus Vice-Chair. The following leadership positions remain the same: David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) Speaker of the House, Jan Jones (R-Milton) Speaker Pro Tempore, Jon Burns (R-Newington) Majority Leader, Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) Majority Caucus Chairman, Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) Majority Caucus Secretary/Treasurer.   

The Senate Republicans also held their caucus elections today and have two changes as well. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) is the new Majority Leader and Larry Walker (R-Perry) is the new Majority Caucus Vice-Chair. The following leadership positions remain the same: Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) President Pro Tempore, Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) Majority Whip, John Kennedy (R-Macon) Majority Caucus Chair, John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa) Majority Secretary.  

Day 2 - Wednesday, Nov. 14:  The House Committee on Appropriations met and reported out of committee HB1EX by David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), the Supplemental Appropriations FY 2018-2019 bill, intended to provide emergency funding for those impacted by Hurricane Michael.  

The House and Senate will convene at 10 a.m. tomorrow for legislative day 3.  

Unrelated to the Special Session, Chairman David Knight's (R-Griffin) Study Committee on Retrospective Emergency Room Policies will meet tomorrow. This study committee aims to address the concerns stemming from the Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield emergency care coverage policy that was implemented June 1, 2017. Anthem informed their patients they would be responsible for the costs associated with non-emergent visits to the emergency room, even if they believed it was an emergency. GHA will testify in tomorrow's meeting and will continue to work with the members of the committee and other stakeholders on this important issue.   

Day 3 - Thursday, Nov. 15: The House passed HB1EX by David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) by a vote of 162-1. The Supplemental Appropriations FY 2018-2019 bill is intended to provide emergency funding for those impacted by Hurricane Michael. The Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) provision included in the original version of the bill that provided MUSM with additional funding to expand their medical school to establish a four-year medical school campus in Columbus was removed from the bill in committee. 

The Senate Committee on Appropriations will meet tomorrow at 8:30 am in 341 Capitol to consider HB1EX.  

The Senate Committee on Rules will meet in 450 Capitol upon adjournment Friday, Nov. 16. 

Chairman David Knight's (R-Griffin) Study Committee on Retrospective Emergency Room Policies met this afternoon and heard testimony from various stakeholders. This study committee aims to address the concerns stemming from the Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield emergency care coverage policy that was implemented June 1, 2017. Anthem informed their policyholders they would be responsible for the costs associated with non-emergent visits to the emergency room, even if they believed it was an emergency. GHA will continue to work with the members of the committee and other stakeholders on this important issue.     

Day 4 - Friday, Nov. 16: The Senate Committee on Appropriations met to consider HB1EX by David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), which provides emergency funding for those impacted by Hurricane Michael. The committee voted unanimously to pass it out with no changes to the House version adopted the previous day. During the committee meeting, Sen. Sims (D-Dawson) stood to thank the hospitals in Southwest Georgia for their efforts during the hurricane and their commitment to helping their communities in a time of crisis. Sen. Burke (R-Bainbridge) echoed Sen. Sims' gratitude and also requested the committee consider providing additional funding in the 2019 supplemental budget for those hospitals severely impacted by the devastating storm.    

Day 5 - Saturday, Nov. 17: HB1EX by Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), was passed unanimously 52-0 by the Senate, which provides nearly $270 million in emergency funding for state agencies and local governments that were impacted by Hurricane Michael. The Governor signed the bill following the conclusion of the special session.

The House and Senate adjourned Sine Die. 

The 2019 Legislative Session begins on January 14.