We kicked off the 2019 Legislative Session with the inauguration of Georgia’s new Governor, Brian Kemp. In Kemp’s State of the State, he correctly said the state of our great state is “rock solid.” Speaking to a joint session of the State House and Senate, he highlighted a few of the following budget initiatives:
1. A $3,000 pay increase for teachers.
2. A $69 million increase in school security grants that are to be equally apportioned among all of Georgia’s 2,000 plus public schools.
3. An additional $1 million for the state health department’s budget in order to expand access to Federal Medicaid waivers.
4. A recommendation to eliminate state support of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District which totals to approximately $200,000.
We can expect to see a continued focus on transit and transportation solutions at the State Capitol which will be led by House Transportation Chairman Kevin Tanner and Council Board Member and State Senator Brandon Beach. As part of our Legislative Agenda, the Council will continue to advocate for legislation that funds multi-year transportation and infrastructure needs and measures to expand and streamline the operation of metro Atlanta’s transit system.
In his State of the State address, Governor Brian Kemp also recognized Officer Matt Cooper, who was wounded in a line-of-duty shooting on Labor Day last year, as well as six other law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty last year. These fallen officers included Locust Grove Police Officer Chase Maddox and Henry County Police Officer Michael Smith and told their families they remain in the state’s thoughts and prayers.
This week, as chairman of Appropriations-Public Safety, I will be busy reviewing the 2019 amended budget and the proposed 2020 budget. Our committee will hold hearings open to the public on portions of these budgets. A lot of work and attention goes into these hearings because passing a budget is the single most important legislative decision we must make annually.
I am honored to serve with so many thoughtful and hard-working men and women. Below is a list of the House Leadership for the 2019 Legislative Session:
Speaker of the House – David Ralston
Speaker Pro Tempore – Jan Jones
Majority Leader – Jon Burns
Majority Whip – Trey Kelley
Majority Caucus Chair – Matt Hatchett
Majority Caucus Vice Chair – Micah Gravley
Minority Leader – Robert Trammell
Minority Whip – William Boddie
Minority Caucus Chair – James Beverly
Minority Caucus Vice Chair – Erica Thomas
I will work diligently to pass meaningful and helpful legislation for the citizens of Georgia. If you ever find yourself in Atlanta during session, I encourage you to visit me at my Capitol office, and please do not hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions or concerns regarding any current or upcoming legislation. My Capitol office is located at 220 State Capitol Atlanta, GA 30334, my office phone number is 404-656-5912. I can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.Read More
With the halfway mark behind us and “Crossover Day” only a few days away, week six was a substantially busy and productive time for my colleagues and I. Below are summaries of the bills discussed and passed during this legislative week.
- House Bill 487 – This bill was overwhelmingly passed and seeks to give Civil Air Patrol disaster service volunteers the same flexibility and leave allowances as American Red Cross volunteers by granting paid leave for no more than 15 work days per year to participate in specialized emergency service operations. In doing so, Civil Air Patrol volunteers will no longer lose seniority, pay, vacation, compensatory time, sick time or earned accumulated overtime at work because of their emergency situation assistance.
- House Bill 678 – This bill strives to eliminate “surprise” hospital bills for Georgia citizens, which can sometimes be 10 to 12 times higher than in-network charges when an out-of-network doctor participates in their treatment team during an elective procedure. With this bill, patients will now be able to request and obtain information about other medical professionals and hospitals and potential care costs before care is given, file a dispute with an arbitrator from the insurance department, and give the patient 90 days to secure payment, negotiate or initiate a dispute after receiving a “surprise” bill.
- House Bill 79 – In an effort to protect citizen’s data, HB 79 would make it a requirement for law enforcement agencies to destroy unused data such as license plate information after 30 months. Information and data would only be allowed to be kept if it is part of an ongoing investigation or toll violation. There is no current law that restricts the amount of time law enforcement agencies can keep this data.
- House Bill 749 – Unanimously passed, this bill would exclude military retirement income from Georgia income tax. It would also exclude military retirement income received by a deceased veteran’s surviving family member, regardless of the family member’s age.
- House Bill 740 – By providing students with a multi-tiered system of support, this bill hopes to lessen the amount of students suspended each year. This bill would also prevent expulsion and suspension in public preschool through third grade for five or more days per school year without first attempting the aforesaid multi-tiered system of support, except students who are in possession of a weapon, drugs or any other dangerous item.
- House Bill 635 – This bill would allow the establishment of an Adult Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Multidisciplinary Team for investigations of elder/disabled adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Created by the district attorney or his or her designee and representatives from law enforcement agencies, these teams would work collaboratively to improve response procedures and policies on elderly or disabled adult abuse.
- House Bill 930 – In an effort to improve Metro Atlanta transportation and traffic, this bill would provide a new regional governance and funding structure for that area. It would also create the Atlanta-region Transit Link (the ‘ATL’). The responsibilities of this link would include coordinating transit planning and funding and overseeing Metro Atlanta transit activity.
My colleagues and I are now only 17 working days away from our adjournment, “Sine Die.” In our remaining weeks, I encourage you to visit me at my Capitol office, and please do not hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions or concerns regarding any current or upcoming legislation. My Capitol office is located at 220 State Capitol Atlanta, GA 30334, my office phone number is 404-656-5912, and I can be reached via email at email@example.com. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.Read More
With a new year almost upon us, our community and delegation has begun looking ahead to the 2018 legislative session. On December 5, I attended a luncheon at the Henry County Administration Building with other Henry County delegates to discuss the county’s objectives and concerns for the next year. I want to take a moment to thank Henry County officials for having me and for hosting this luncheon and discussion. Here are some informational highlights from our meeting:
Henry County Public Safety Training Academy
Among the topics discussed, Henry County staff emphasized the community’s need for a public safety training academy. The Henry County Police Department would strongly benefit from training their officers locally, rather than sending them to other academies in the state to do so. If the department could train in its own district, they would eliminate the cost of training elsewhere, therefore saving money.
House Bill 204
House Bill 204 was also examined during our luncheon. This bill would remove non-tax related fees from property tax bills, thereby obstructing the county’s revenue sources. BOC Chairperson June Wood strongly encouraged delegates to not support this bill in the upcoming 2018 legislative session.
Henry County Coroner
Lastly, the Henry County staff addressed their desire to pay their coroner by salary, rather than the current state of paid by call. This resolution was approved by the Henry County Board of Commissioners and requested for legislation.
I always enjoy discussing the needs, endeavors, and goals of my districts. Our community is continually striving for growth and improvement, and I am proud to represent it.Read More
Georgia Department Of Transportation contractors have begun clearing vegetation along Jonesboro Road and State Route 81, and construction of the East-West One-Way Pairs in downtown McDonough is now well underway! In an effort to lessen traffic entering and exiting McDonough Square, Jonesboro Road to Doris Street is to be converted to a one-way route heading west, and the Georgia Highway 20 (Hampton Street) heading into the square will be turned into a one-way, as well. A roundabout will also be built at the intersection of Doris Street and Jonesboro Road that will lead drivers to another eastbound one-way. Roundabouts help ease the flow of traffic because cars are only required to yield, not stop. This reduces traffic delay and improves traffic flow. Construction is estimated to last about thirty months.
This project will undoubtedly be beneficial to local businesses, surrounding areas, and McDonough citizens as it will ease traffic congestion near McDonough Square. According to the Georgia Department of Transportation Project Manager Cherral Dempsey, the East-West One-Way Pairs construction will involve at least three temporary road closures. The Georgia Department of Transportation will keep McDonough citizens updated with lane closures and detour information on their website, Twitter, and Facebook. Be on the lookout for signs and message boards around the area for redirection, as well. Although the construction process takes time, the benefits of the results will be well worth the wait!Read More