After 40 legislative days, the Georgia General Assembly is adjourned Sine Die. It is truly an honor to be your voice at the State Capitol. Thank you to everyone in our community who attended a Town Hall, completed surveys, e-mailed, called, texted, or even visited me at the Capitol – your feedback is always so valuable. Please continue to reach out – the best ideas for our state come from you!
As a first-year legislator, it was a busy 40 days balancing family, work, and volunteer commitments while learning the legislative process. I am proud of the work we accomplished together and determined to advance sound public policy during the 2018 Legislative Session. Below are highlights from this year’s session:
HB44 – FY2018 Budget
The General Assembly once again passed a balanced budget for the 2018 Fiscal Year. In addition to prioritizing education, healthcare, and transportation, the FY 2018 Budget also includes pay raises for educators, law enforcement officials, and DFCS case workers. While the budget grew to $25B for FY18, Georgia spends the same amount per capita when adjusted for inflation as we did over 10-years ago.
HB146 – Coverage For Firefighters
House Bill 146 ensures that firefighters are eligible for special health insurance plans that cover the treatment of various cancers incurred in the line of duty. HB146 is the least we can do as a legislative body to thank those who sacrifice life and limb for our safety!
HB154 – Improving Dental Access In Georgia
To enhance access to dental care, the legislature passed HB154, which allows licensed dental hygienists to provide preventative dental services in underserved areas without supervision from a dentist. This is one way we can ensure a bright and healthy future for all Georgians.
SB85 – Beer Freedom Legislation
SB 85 is compromise legislation that allows a consumer to buy up to a case a day directly from a brewery to take home and to buy a beer to drink on site. Brewpubs would also be allowed to sell beer to customers to take home.
SB219: Autonomous Vehicle Operations and Liability
Establishes minimum operating requirements and liability coverage for autonomous vehicles in Georgia.
HB265: Quality Jobs Tax Credit
Allows the tax credit to be used by businesses already receiving the credit to now use it for expansions or for the creation of new quality jobs in the state, which is currently prohibited.
HB155 and HB199: Growing jobs in Georgia
During the 2017 Legislative Session, we passed HB155 and HB199. HB155 creates a tax credit for certified musical or theatrical productions and recorded musical performances in Georgia. HB199 expands the tax credit given to interactive entertainment companies who bring jobs and investment to communities throughout the state. Both pieces of legislation grow jobs and keep Georgia competitive.
SB186: Move on When Ready
Allows dual enrollment students to be eligible to receive the HOPE Grant to obtain an Associate’s degree. Previously, these students would use up their Hope grant eligibility a few credits shy of an Associate’s degree and therefore were unable to complete the degree program without other funding sources.
HB338: Improving Education in Georgia
To enhance educational outcomes for students, the legislature passed HB338. Under this legislation, a Chief Turnaround Officer and turnaround coaches will work with local school boards to improve outcomes in chronically failing schools throughout Georgia.
HB452: Keeping Georgians Safe
HB 452 requires the GBI to post information to their website about recently released illegal aliens with a history of violent or serious crimes. This bill is the end product of a long-standing effort to improve public safety without burdening law enforcement.
SB160: Back The Badge
The General Assembly passed SB160, which strengthens the punishments for those who are convicted of aggravated assault or battery against a police officer. The “Back the Badge Act of 2017” will help keep our brave men and women in uniform safe as they work to maintain peace in communities throughout Georgia.
HB340: Charter School Legislation
HB 430 would create a grant program that would provide facility funding to charter schools to make them more comparable to traditional public schools and create a program to plan, implement, improve and provide grants for community schools.
SB206: Let Georgia Hear
This session, the General Assembly passed SB206, which will ensure that children who are born deaf will receive insurance coverage for hearing devices. SB206 offers those with hearing conditions the opportunity to flourish and thrive!
My 1st Legislation:
Finally, I was one of a small handful of freshman legislators who passed a bill through both Chambers and are now waiting the Governor’s signature. I was blessed to pass two bills this past session:
Sen. Blake Tillery (Vidalia) and Rep. David Dryer (Atlanta) on Day 40 when our bill passed the Senate
HB343: Restoring Dignity
The State House and Senate unanimously passed HB 343, which strikes the R-word from Georgia Code and replaces it with “intellectual disabilities.” So grateful to my House colleagues for demonstrating that Georgia is a welcoming state for individuals of all abilities!
HB370: Retirement Savings Accounts
Under HB370, Municipal Court Judges across our state can create and manage retirement savings plans. This is done without creating an obligation to the state, county, or municipal governments. It is so important to encourage saving and it was an honor to help public servants across our state accomplish that goal.
For more information on the legislation mentioned above – or for a full list of bills considered by the Georgia General Assembly – click HERE.
Capitol Page Program
Thank you to the young men and women who participated in the Page Program at the Capitol this year! It was so much fun visiting with our youngest constituents and encouraging them to get involved in local government. I was told our District had the most pages this session with over 18! Great job parents!
Study Committee Assignment:
Prior to adjournment, I was assigned to a study committee with a focus on increasing civics education in the classroom. The Council on State Governments and other national organizations have noted a nation-wide decline in civics education and student comprehension. The goal of the committee will be to address the issue in Georgia and offer solutions. The committee will meet while we are out of session – you can read more about it – HERE.
I am passionate around helping our next generation of students become more civically engaged and have a deep appreciation for our nation’s history. You are welcome to contact me with any thoughts/ideas/suggestions on this topic for the committee.
In the Community:
One of the best aspects of the part-time legislator role is returning to our communities and hearing from you! I’ll be speaking at several local meetings over the next month and hope to see you there:
April 11th: Gwinnett Rotary Club – 11:45AM – 1:00PM – 1818 Club, 6500 Sugarloaf Pkwy, Duluth, GA 30097 (open to Rotarian members)
April 17th: Mary Our Queen Men’s Club – 6:00 – 8:00PM – Mary Our Queen Catholic Church, 6260 The Corners Pkwy NW, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092
April 19th: PDC Meeting – 8:00 – 9:00AM – 45 South Cafe, 45 S Peachtree St, Norcross, GA 30071
April 20th: Peachtree Corners Business Association (PCBA) – 5:30 – 7:30PM – Ippolito’s, 5277 Peachtree Pkwy, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092 www.peachtreecornersba.com
April 24th: United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA) – 7:00 – 8:30PM – Christ the King Church, 5575 Peachtree Pkwy, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092 www.upcca.org
April 27th: Bridges Peachtree Corners – 7:30 – 9:00PM – Landmark Church – 3737 Holcomb Bridge Rd, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092 www.bridgespc.org
If you have an event that is not on this list – please let me know and I would be happy to attend to give an update from the State Capitol.
Finally, mark your calendars – we will be hosting a fun, family cook-out event the weekend of May 19th – more details to come soon on how you can purchase tickets and participate!