Georgia Rehabilitation Association Legislative Updates
House Bill 831, Georgia’s Employment First Act, was introduced in the Georgia House this week. The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that Georgians with disabilities are given employment as the first option in the provision of publicly funded services provided to them by the state. This legislation also creates a Council of state, provider, and community organizations to begin strategically moving Georgia toward that goal.
Some individuals in our community have expressed concern regarding the first line of the Bill which states, “A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Chapter 9 of Title 49 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to transfer of Division of Rehabilitation Services to the Department of Labor, so as to establish the Employment First Georgia Council”. We wanted to take a moment to clarify that this does not have ANYTHING to do with GVRA being transferred back under the Department of Labor. This line is actually a standard part of any bill placed before that legislature that states both the chapter, section, and title of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (the collection of all Georgia Laws) that the proposed bill would change. In this collection of Georgia law, Chapter 9, Title 49, contains all of the legal code that established GVRA and its board back in 2012. However, for various legal reasons even when a title for a code section is no longer relevant the title is not regularly changed to reflect what is contained in the code section. There are many reasons this is so but to put it simply, it would make it difficult for all legal entities to function if you constantly changed the references for chapters Georgia law.
Thus, the first time vocational rehabilitation actually appeared in Georgia law was when it was first transferred to the Department of Labor. As a result, all following legislation involving what we now know as GVRA is included in this code section titled “TRANSFER OF DIVISION OF REHABILITATION SERVICES TO DEPARTMENT OF LABOR” which is where the above language comes from. Thus, this bill is merely referencing GVRA’s code section as the area it’s language would be added in the body of Georgia law, not moving GVRA back under the Department of Labor.
The House of Representatives and the Senate have both adjourned for the 2017 legislative session. Below are some of the bills that were passed through and could potentially affect rehab professionals.
*All of the above information was obtained from the Georgia General Assembly website: http://www.legis.ga.gov