(WTVM) - On Thursday, Jan. 14 the House Democratic Caucus introduced their 2016 Legislative Agenda.
House Democrats announced 33 legislative initiatives. Key items include legislation previously introduced during the 2015 session:
•Too Young to Suspend Act (HB 135), sponsored by Rep. Wayne Howard, which prohibits schools from suspending or expelling children in pre-kindergarten through third grade.
•Any Precinct Act (HB 26), sponsored by Rep. Roger Bruce, which allows voters to cast a ballot in any precinct in the county.
•Fair Chance at Employment Act (HB 163), sponsored by Rep. Winfred Dukes, prohibits the use of consumer credit checks against prospective and current employees for the purpose of making employment decisions.
New legislative items include:
•Expand Medicaid NOW Act, sponsored by House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, which would compel Georgia's Department of Community Health to expand state Medicaid eligibility up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level and provide health insurance coverage for nearly half a million Georgians.
•Pursuing Justice for Rape Victims Act (HB 560), sponsored by Rep. Scott Holcomb, which would require law enforcement to send all untested inventories of sexual assault kits to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) for forensic examination as well as mandate the prompt delivery of testing kits by law enforcement to GBI going forward.
•Paid Sick Leave Act, sponsored by Rep. Kim Alexander, introduces a comprehensive sick leave policy for Georgia's workers and their families under which full-time employees will accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every thirty hours he or she works.
The "A Promise Kept Initiative" in support of military families includes:
•Bridging the Military Healthcare Gap Act, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Buckner, provides for the use of a military service member's state of legal residence to be used for the purposes of maintaining Medicaid eligibility for military family members with special needs. This bill would ensure that Georgia's transitioning service members and their families do not experience a lapse in Medicaid coverage upon transfer or retirement.
•Protecting Military Children Act, sponsored by Rep. Earnest Smith, would provide for the free exchange of information between the Division of Family and Children Services and the Department of Defense to ensure that allegations of and issues surrounding child abuse and/or neglect are promptly and appropriately investigated and resolved for the benefit of children of military families.
•Educating Children of Military Families Act, sponsored by Rep. Mike Glanton, would authorize the Georgia Department of Education to establish a unique identifier for children of military service members for the purposes of disaggregating and sharing data related to the educational achievement and progress of such students. By identifying trends in educational achievement among this unique group of students, state, local, and federal educators may better understand and address the needs of this particularly student population.
•Military Spouses and Veterans Licensure Act, sponsored by Rep. Al Williams, requires that all state licensure boards adopt and implement a process by which military spouses and transitioning service members may qualify for temporary licenses, licenses by endorsement, or expedited licenses to facilitate their entry into Georgia's workforce.
•Protecting Guardsmen's Employment Act, sponsored by Rep. Calvin Smyre, provides employment protections to Georgia workers called into service by the national guard of a neighboring state. The bill ensures that men and women called into service by a state National Guard or reserves are entitled to reemployment upon completion of their duty.
•Military Consumer Protection Act, sponsored by Rep. Brian Prince, provides a state cause of action for predatory lending under the terms of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act. The bill enables state agencies to issue cease and desist orders and pursue additional action against lenders deemed to be engaging in predatory lending to military customers.
"The 2016 legislative agenda is a continuation of our efforts as the Georgia House Democratic Caucus to deliver solutions to our state's toughest challenges," said Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. "From protecting our children from draconian punishment to expanding access to technical college, we will work hard to serve Georgians. With this year's expanded agenda, we will reject the notion that economic security can be achieved without an investment in a healthy workforce. And we must keep our promise to support those in the military who have bravely embraced the sacred responsibility of keeping us safe. The 2016 legislative package is a commitment to our shared values as Georgians, and to the understanding that we can move the needle towards progress if we put aside partisan differences to embrace common-sense solutions."