This Week in the Senate | January 27- 31, 2020

Budget Hearings and Passing Legislation


This week was our busiest yet this session. While the budget remains a priority for the entire General Assembly, our efforts this week were concentrated on committee hearings to ensure bills were thoroughly debated and discussed, as well as passing legislation on the Senate floor.

This week I carried HB 444 in the Senate which is designed to protect our dual enrollment program for high school students for generations to come. The program is funded from our general funds in the budget and, given its popularity, we are at a point where we had to decide whether to keep the program where it is or move towards a merit or lottery-based system. HB 444 instead places guardrails on the program which includes caps on college courses paid exclusively by the state to a level that is nearly double what the average child takes now and ensures that the state is paying for those core classes that can easily transfer to another higher education institution. HB 444 was drafted based on recommendations from leaders from our local public schools and our higher education institutions that are offering dual enrollment now in order to make sure we hit the right balance to preserve this program. With this bill, our high school students will continue getting the best high school experience possible with the opportunity for college experience which gives them a head start on their higher educational path.

On Thursday, the Governor signed the first bill of legislation of the 2020 Legislative Session. House Bill 276, which we passed earlier this year in the form of a conference committee report, expands the definition of a “marketplace facilitator” and essentially evens the playing field between online retailers and brick and mortar businesses. Under current Georgia law, these online retailers are required to remit sales tax back to the state. However, Georgia law made it too cumbersome for the state to actually collect the tax it was owed. This bill provides a fix for this issue and with its effective date being April 1, we are hopeful that we will see an immediate positive impact to our state’s revenue collections.

Next week, the Senate shows no signs of slowing down. While we will only be convening for three days for legislative days ten through twelve, they are will be filled with further committee discussion, votes on legislation in the Senate Cham-ber and continued discussions about the budget. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office. I am here to serve you.

~ Senator Brian Strickland

District 17, Georgia Senate



Senate Congratulates Gatewood Schools Varsity Football Team

Sen. Burt Jones (R – Jackson) commended the Gatewood Schools Varsity Football Team for winning the Class AA Championship Game of the Georgia Independent Schools Association. The Gatewood Varsity Football Team has won the state title in back-to-back years under head coach Jeff Ratliff. SR 580

Southwest Georgia Day at the Capitol

Sen. Freddie Powell-Sims (D – Dawson) recognized January 27, 2020, as Southwest Georgia Day at the state Capitol. Sen. Sims highlighted leaders and members of the Southwest Georgia community for their work and dedication to the region. It was attended by various members of the community including Marion Ross Fedrick, the president of Albany State University, Shaunae Motley of United Way, and members of the Morehouse School of Medicine.

Senate Recognizes Bishop Reginald Jackson

Sen. Michael Rhett (D – Marietta) welcomed Bishop Reginald Jackson, the presiding prelate of the Sixth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), to the Capitol. The AME was founded in 1816 and has over 500 churches in Georgia. Bishop Jackson and the AME were honored for their work across the state of Georgia.



Dual Enrollment Act

House Bill 444, carried by Sen. Brian Strickland (R – McDonough), adjusts the number of credit hours allowed under the dual enrollment program to a maximum of 30, while also limiting the grade levels allowed to participate. It also restricts the credit hours students take to primarily core courses. HB 444 passed with a vote of 34 to HB 444

Senate Honors Principal Kerensa Wing

Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) sponsored Senate Resolution 571, commending Ms. Kerensa Wing, principal of Collins Hill High School, for her dedication of over 30 years of service to the Gwinnett County School District. Ms. Wing was also named National Principal of the Year and Georgia Principal of the Year in 2019. SR 571

Senate Recognizes Georgia Economic Developers Association

Sen. Frank Ginn (R – Danielsville) sponsored Senate Resolution 578, highlighting members of the Georgia Economic Developers Association on their efforts to improve the business climate in Georgia. The hard work of economic developers around the state has led to Georgia being ranked as the number one state in which to do business for six straight years. SR 578

Senate Congratulates Dr. Ángel Cabrera

Sen. P.K. Martin (R – Lawrenceville) sponsored Senate Resolution 603, which congratulates Dr. Ángel Cabrera for being named the 12th President of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Cabrera was named President of Georgia Tech on September 1, 2019, after previously serving as the President of George Mason University in Virginia, where he became the first Spanish-born citizen to serve as President of an American university.SR 603

Jackson-Butts County Day at the Capitol

Senate Resolution 621, sponsored by Sen. Burt Jones (R – Jackson), recognizes January 28, 2020, as Jack-son-Butts County Day at the state Capitol. The city of Jackson, as well as Butts County, have a rich history including having the oldest state park in the country. SR 621



Senate Commends Morgan Wheeler

Sen. Steve Henson (D – Stone Mountain) sponsored Senate Resolution 587, which recognizes and honors Morgan Wheeler for his dedication to public service across the state of Georgia. Before his current involvement with the Secretary of State’s State Licensing Board, Mr. Wheeler previously served with both the DeKalb and Walton Coun-ty Departments of Planning and Development. SR 687



Senate Welcomes Congressman Barry Loudermilk

United States Congressman Barry Loudermilk (GA – 11) visited the Georgia State Senate to speak about the need for friendship in the midst of a partisan divide. Rep. Loudermilk urged his former colleagues to find common ground to solve the unique issues facing Georgia. Before serving in the United States House of Representatives, Rep. Loudermilk served as both a Senator and Representative in the Georgia General Assembly from 2005 to 2013.

Recognizing the Georgia–Japan Trade Relationship

Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R – Marietta) sponsored Senate Resolution 541 which highlighted the positive cultural and economic relationship between Georgia and Japan. Sen. Kirkpatrick welcomed Consul General of Japan Kazuyuki Takeuchi who spoke about his continued enthusiasm for a strong and prosperous economic relationship between Georgia and Japan. SR 541

Lunar New Year Celebrated in the Senate

Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) sponsored Senate Resolution 572, which celebrated the Lunar New Year. Sen. Unterman and her special guests spoke to the unique history of this holiday around the world and wished for a peaceful and prosperous Lunar New Year to all Georgians. SR 572

Senate Recognizes Savannah Day

Senate Resolution 624, sponsored by Sen. Lester Jackson (D – Savannah), recognized multiple community leaders from the Savannah area for Savannah Day at the Capitol. The special guests included Charlie Smith Jr., Detective Agaria Gibbs and Dr. Patricia M. Stewart. All three individuals were recognized for their contributions to their communities throughout the years. SR 624

Senate Welcomes Tybee Island Youth Council

Sen. Ben Watson (R – Savannah) welcomed the Tybee Island Youth Council to the Senate and thanked them for their hard work in bringing awareness to the conservation efforts on Tybee Island. The Council thanked the members of the Senate for their previous support of Highway 80 and beach renourishment projects on Tybee Island.



International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Capitol

Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R – Marietta) sponsored Senate Resolution 573 which recognizes January 27, 2020, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the state Capitol. Monday also marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the occasion was commemorated by unveiling a new Capitol exhibit honoring survivors and liberators. Sen. Kirkpatrick was joined by Israeli Consul General Anat Sultan-Dadon, as well as members of the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust. SR 573


The Georgia Senate will reconvene at 10:00 a.m. on MONDAY, February 3.

**Distributed by the Georgia Senate Press Office on behalf of the Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller.