Guest post by a concerned Georgia citizen
Go down to the Georgia Capitol any given day, and you will see make-shift tents, drive-up vendors supplying the needs of the homeless with toilet paper, snacks and used clothing. They aren’t benevolent, they are there to make a buck. This is the definition of irony considering the Georgia House of Representatives passed HB1013 on March 8th, 2022.
Prior to March 23rd after much public outcry opposing the house bill the homeless on MLK, Jr., Drive and Washington Street who have crowded Central Presbyterian Church have been ignored and passed by without regard from Legislators. It’s only AFTER the public alerting others of the issues with HB1013, (which are many), that there is sudden interest by social workers and health care workers to arrive on the scene to “help”.
The Georgia House of Representatives HB1013 is a 77 page bill that is sweeping reform of Georgia’s mental health agencies and more. It provides for the change or addition of seven (7) Code Sections that are a part of the Official Code of Georgia. A few of the included reforms are:
When polling House Legislators, the majority did not read the bill. The narrative coming from Speaker Ralston’s office is that, “it doesn’t say that in the bill”. While it may be true that the bill doesn’t have specific language and it is broad, it is that way for a reason. When preparing to read the bill you must also have the ICD Codes from the World Health Organization, as well as the DSM-IV and the Official Code of Georgia for referenced code sections. You would also need the “The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008”. (WHAT?! There’s already a Parity Act!?) The 77 page bill is not difficult to read, but the references are and it appears to be that way for a reason.
One should ask themselves, “Why are Speaker Ralston and other Republican officials FOR such a bill”? “Why do we need another piece of bureaucratic legislation when a bill was passed in 2008 that already provides for parity”? Well, let’s shed some light on that. This bill has been alleged to have been drafted by Kevin Tanner, who is the County Manager for Forsyth County and coincidentally on the Behavioral Health Reform & Innovation Commission, which was created in 2019. While County Manager is not currently in the House of Representatives, he certainly has some vested interested in this bill by serving on the Commission.
Other HB1013 influencers include Representative Todd Jones of the 25th District, who is an officer of Talitrix, LLC, an Alpharetta based company specializing in biometric tracking. According to their website, “Talitrix is revolutionizing case management by providing real, live-time tracking, biometric check-ins, and document management all to increase compliancy and reduce recidivism. We protect the public and help individuals transition into society with dignity”. Furthermore, they utilize geo-fencing in order to protect victims, which would include tracking the victim as well as the offender. According to the website, this information is stored in their “secure cloud storage”. With the broad language of utilizing technology in tracking repeat users of mental health services in Georgia would know no end to tracking and HIPPA violations. It would sure be a windfall to any investor of Talitrix, LLC, should HB1013 pass. Furthermore, Representative Jones has applied for a patent for his technology, ensuring the cornering of the market on the devices.In October of 2020, President Donald J. Trump, signed an Executive Order, providing for Mental Health Parity. Georgians already are granted parity in the 2008 Act mentioned above. So why this bill? Why now? In short, House Bill 1013 is a power grab by politicians to benefit themselves in power and position while giving up security of the common Georgia citizen.