February 10, 2020 | Brian This Week in the Senate | February 3 – 5, 2020 Momentum is Picking Up On Wednesday, the Senate officially concluded Legislative Day 12, putting us three days closer to Day 40. While we only convened for three legislative days, our time in committees has continued to increase, resulting in numerous votes on legislation and extended debates on issues that have the potential to affect all of Georgia. This week, a few legislative proposals were introduced that have my full support. For too long now, we have known that our K-12 students are subjected to too many standardized tests. The effects of high-stakes testing can have a lasting impact on a child and have a detrimental impact on their ability to have a successful future. In order to take some of this pressure off our students, I co-sponsored Senate Bill 367 which would remove five assessments that students are currently required to take. In addition, it would give our schools greater flexibility to maximize instruction time by creating a testing window within the last 25 school days or last five weeks of the school year. This bill is a priority for Governor Kemp this year and I look forward to working with him and his team to help give our students every opportunity to succeed. Another priority announced this week will be an effort to bring an end to the predatory practice of surprise billing. Families all across the state plan their household budgets around anticipated healthcare costs. However, patients regularly receive massive bills after their healthcare visits they had not anticipated. This happens when one or more of the doctors or medical procedures a consumer needed weren’t covered by their insurance, even though the hospital where the procedure took place is classified as in-network. Senate Bill 589, another measure which I co-sponsored, is going to take steps to address this issue by taking the consumer out of the middle and ensuring that disagreements overpayments are settled between the insurance companies and healthcare providers. The budget remains the most important issue still facing us in the legislature. We knew the budget would present a few challenges this year and we need to ensure that the final product is something that works for all Georgians. Because of this, the Senate and House will be taking next week to hold deeper discussions with our state agencies to determine what funding they need for their departments. These conversations will hopefully lead to a leaner, more efficient state government that still meets the needs of all in our state. If you ever have any questions about any of these pieces of legislation, the budget or anything happening in District 17, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office. Senator Brian Strickland ~ District 17, Georgia Senate MONDAY, FEBRUARY 3 Expanding the Definition of a Cremation Device Senate Bill 296, sponsored by Sen. Bill Heath (R – Bremen), would add any furnace, vat or container used to cremate dead bodies to the definition of “cremation device.” SB 296 passed with a vote of 35 to 10. – SB 296 Supporting Iranian Protesters Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) sponsored Senate Resolution 554 which would support the rights of Iranian protestors to demonstrate freely and peacefully against the current Iranian regime. SR 554 passed by a vote of 31 to 17. – SR 554 Commending Heather Williamson Senate Resolution 660, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R – Marietta), recognized Heather Williamson as the state recipient of the Technical College System of Georgia’s (TCSG) Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL). Ms. Williamson is an early childhood care and education student from Central Georgia Technical Col-lege and was selected as the statewide winner out of 22 TCSG college GOAL recipients. – SR 660 Recognizing Simmone Crane Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R – Marietta), sponsored Senate Resolution 661, which commended Simmone Crane as the statewide winner of the Technical College System of Georgia’s (TCSG) Exceptional Adult Georgian in Literacy Education (EAGLE) award. This award recognizes adult learners who have demonstrated a history of success in adult education classes. Ms. Crane attends West Georgia Technical College and was selected from a pool of 26 EAGLE delegates across the state. – SR 661 Honoring Leyner Argueta Senate Resolution 662, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R – Marietta), recognized Leyner Argueta as the state winner of the Technical College System of Georgia’s (TCSG) Rick Perkins Award for Excellence in Technical Instruction. This award honors Ms. Williams as the TCSG’s Instructor of the Year for her teaching excellence in the field of business management at Georgia Northwestern Technical College. – SR 662 China Day at the state Capitol Sen. Sheikh Rahman (D – Lawrenceville) sponsored Senate Resolution 686 which recognized the unique relationship between Georgia and the people of China and declared Monday, February 3, as China Day at the state Capitol. Among the attendees were Consul General Cai Wei and the National Associate of Chinese Americans. Together, the United States and China have been able to foster long and prosperous ties in culture, academics, and entrepreneurship. – SR 686 TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 4 Defining Electric Scooters Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega) sponsored Senate Bill 159, which would provide for the definition of electric scooters and allow local counties and municipalities to exercise the power to regulate electric scooters. SB 159 passed with a vote of 47 to 0. – SB 159 University of Georgia Blue Key Day at the Capitol Sen. Butch Miller (R – Gainesville) sponsored Senate Resolution 563 which recognized February 4, 2020, as Georgia Blue Key Day at the Capitol. The University of Georgia (UGA) chapter of the Blue Key Honor Society is dedicated to promoting leadership and academic excellence among UGA students. Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia) and Sen. Jack Hill (R – Reidsville) are both former members of the Blue Key Honor Society. – SR 563 Recognizing Dr. Gene Tyre Senate Resolution 581, sponsored by Sen. Matt Brass (R – Newnan), commended Rev. Dr. Gene Tyre for his 60 years of pastoral service, his service as the Chairman of the Georgia Baptist Hospital Convention, and the various positions he has held within the Georgia Baptist Convention. – SR 581 Honoring Georgia Firefighters Sen. John Albers (R – Roswell) sponsored Senate Resolution 648, which declared Tuesday, February 4, 2020, as Firefighters Recognition Day to honor firefighters across the state. Georgia is home to 30,000 firefighters, spread across 900 fire departments. Sen. Albers welcomed members of the Georgia Firefighters Association to speak on behalf of the state’s firefighters.– SR 648 Celebrating Georgia Equine Youth Day Senate Resolution 667, sponsored by Sen. John Wilkinson (R – Toccoa), recognized February 4, 2020, as Georgia Equine Youth Day at the state Capitol. Sen. Wilkinson was joined by two world championship competitors, as well as the winner of the National Equine Quiz Bowl. The program provides the opportunity for younger generations to foster care and respect for animals. – SR 667 WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5 Creditable Service Requirements for the Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia Sen. William Ligon (R – Brunswick) sponsored Senate Bill 26 which would allow the Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia to count past service in the Georgia Defined Contribution Plan as creditable service. SB 26 passed with a vote of 51 to 0. – SB 26 Military Service as Creditable Service Senate Bill 47, sponsored by Sen. Ellis Black (R – Valdosta), would allow up to 60 months of certain military service to count as creditable service under the Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia. SB 47 passed with a vote of 47 to 0. – SB 47 Updating Contingent Beneficiaries Sen. Ed Harbison (D – Columbus) sponsored Senate Bill 262 which would allow a beneficiary to make a new election or nominate another contingent beneficiary if they elected option two in the Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia and were predeceased by the previous contingent beneficiary. SB 262 passed with a vote of 52 to 0. – SB 262 Ad Valorem Decals for Manufactured Homes Senate Bill 289, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga), would remove the requirement that mobile homes display a decal indicating that Ad Valorem taxes were paid. SB 289 passed with a vote of 50 to 0. – SB 289 Congratulating the Banks County High School’s Girls Softball Team Sen. John Wilkinson (R – Toccoa) sponsored Senate Resolution 556 which commended the Banks County High School’s Lady Leopards girls softball team for their win in the Class 2A Georgia High School Association Championship Game. The Lady Leopards finished the season ranked 1st in Class 2A, 11th in Georgia and 21st in the nation. – SR 556 Celebrating Morris Brown College Day Senate Resolution 614, sponsored by Sen. Donzella James (D – Atlanta), recognized February 5, 2020, as Morris Brown College Day at the state Capitol. Morris Brown College was chartered in 1885 under the African Meth-odist Episcopal Church. Sen. James was joined by Dr. Kevin James, the President of Morris Brown College, and Rev. Chuck Barlow, a trustee of the college. – SR 614 Honoring the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Sen. Matt Brass (R – Newnan) sponsored Senate Resolution 625 which celebrated February 5, 2020, as State Action Day for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS). NMSS is dedicated to finding a cure for multiple sclerosis (MS), a neurological disease of the central nervous system. NMSS recently announced a new multiyear plan to dedicate $38.7 million in funding to 123 research projects across the nation. – SR 625 Recognizing the John Milledge Varsity Football Team Senate Resolution 640, sponsored by Sen. Burt Jones (R – Jackson), congratulated the John Milledge Varsity Football Team on the Class 3A Georgia Independent School Association’s (GISA) State Championship Game, for the second time in four seasons. The John Milledge Varsity Football Team is led by Coach J.T. Wall who was honored this season as the GISA Coach of the Year. – SR 640 Public Health Day at the State Capitol Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R – Marietta) sponsored Senate Resolution 653 which recognized February 5, 2020, as Public Health Day at the state Capitol and honors the Georgia Department of Public Health for their hard work in protecting the lives of Georgians. Representatives from public health districts across the state were in attendance to serve in shifts as doctors of the day. – SR 653 Commending the Usher’s New Look Leadership Academy Senate Resolution 682, sponsored by Sen. Nikema Williams (D – Atlanta), honored the Usher’s New Look Leadership Academy for preparing students with 21st-century skills applicable to their post-secondary education and the workforce. Usher’s New Look has served over 50,000 youth across the nation and serves 600 students each year in Georgia. – SR 682 Pre-K Week at the State Capitol Sen. P.K. Martin (R – Lawrenceville) sponsored Senate Resolution 695 which will celebrate the week of October 5-9, 2020, as Pre-K Week at the state Capitol. Georgia has a nationally renowned Pre-K program that has served over 1.6 million students since it was started. Georgia is one of only nine states to have at least half of the state’s youth attend the Pre-K program. – SR 695 Senate Approves Adjournment Resolution Sen. Mike Dugan (R – Carrollton) sponsored Senate Resolution 712 which would outline the legislative calendar through Day 28 of the legislative session. The schedule is as follows: February 18 (Legislative Day 13), February 19 (Legislative Day 14), February 20 (Legislative Day 15), February 21 (Legislative Day 16), February 24 (Legislative Day 17), February 25 (Legislative Day 18), February 26 (Legislative Day 19), February 27 (Legislative Day 20), February 28 (Legislative Day 21), March 2 (Legislative Day 22), March 3 (Legislative Day 23), March 4 (Legislative Day 24), March 5 (Legislative Day 25), March 9 (Legislative Day 26), March 10 (Legislative Day 27) and March 11 (Legislative Day 28). – SR 712 The Georgia Senate will reconvene at 10:00 a.m. on TUESDAY, February 18. **Distributed by the Georgia Senate Press Office on behalf of the Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller.