We are just one day away from Sine Die – the end of the 2019 session – tomorrow. While there is a lot of work left to be done, including debating over 25 pieces of legislation and addressing at least three conference committee reports, I am proud of all of the hard work our chamber did last week when we debated and voted on over 80 pieces of legislation. While the days were long and sometimes the debate got heated, the majority of the legislation passed with bi-partisan support because we all came together to address issues that will effect citizens around the state.
As chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee, I would like to highlight legislation that will have an impact on members of our military and public safety communities. Our military members and public safety officials put their lives on the line every day to ensure our homeland is protected and our citizens can live without fear. I am always happy to support any legislation that will benefit them and make life easier whether they are away from home, coming back from a tour or fighting on our behalf every day.
· House Bill 25 would allow certain contracts including television, video and audio programming, internet access and gym memberships to be immediately terminated by military service members. Service members may do so upon receiving military orders to relocate for a period of at least 90 days.
· House Bill 33 would allow service members to carry a weapon with an expired weapons carry license for up to six months from the date of discharge or relocation, if the license expired while the individual was serving on active duty outside of the state. The person carrying the weapon must have official military orders or written verification signed by their commanding officer in their immediate possession.
· House Bill 59 would allow children of military parents to enroll in a public school, before establishing physical residency, based on official military relocation orders.
· House Bill 64 would require a child welfare agency to make efforts to determine whether a parent or guardian of an abused or allegedly abused child is on active duty in the United States armed forces. If so, the bill requires relevant military law enforcement to be notified.
· House Bill 392 would allow for the payment of reimbursed travel costs for Board of Public Safety members in the same manner as other state agencies.
Along with legislation supporting our military, we also focused on education and students across the state. Below are some highlights of legislation related to improving our education system and keeping the best and brightest working in our state.
· House Bill 12 would require public schools to post the telephone number that is used to report abuse and neglect to the Department of Family and Children Services in a public, visible location.
· House Bill 31 is the Fiscal Year 2020 General Budget. The budget includes a state revenue estimate of $27.5 billion, which would be allocated to a variety of areas including education and teacher pay, public and school safety, behavioral health and transportation. I am proud that the Senate and House both agreed to give each educator and certified employee a $3,000 salary increase starting on July 1, 2019.
· House Bill 83 would require recess to be scheduled for students in grades Kindergarten through fifth, with certain exceptions for weather and other scheduled activities.
· House Bill 266, which I presented, would double the income tax deductions allowed when making contributions to the Georgia Higher Education Savings Plan.
· House Bill 459, which I carried, would require each local board of education to maintain a database with the full name and driver’s license number of all school bus drivers and provide this information to the Department of Public Safety. HB 459 would also clarify the process by which local law enforcement can designate certain volunteers or law enforcement officers to assist in school traffic control.
· House Bill 527 would update the weights in the formula used to determine Quality Basic Education funding.
· House Bill 530 would require the Georgia Department of Education to provide a declaration of homeschooling to local school districts. Under HB 530, if a child is withdrawn from school without filing a declaration and the student stops attending school for 45 days, the school would be required to inform the Department of Family and Children Services.
These are just a few of the highlights of the over 80 pieces of legislation we debated and voted on last week. For a full recap and overview of what was addressed in the Senate during our 11th week, please follow this link:
While the 2019 session will wrap up tomorrow, my work on your behalf at the Gold Dome will not come to an end. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be providing an overview of what passed this session and topics that will be addressed during the interim. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my office by phone or email. I look forward to hearing from you!