This Week in the Senate — February 13-17, 2023

February 21, 2023


Can you believe it? We're already halfway through the 2023 Legislative Session! This week has been busy, with 17 bills passing in the Senate. Crossover Day is approaching, so we're gearing up for a hectic day.

On Tuesday, I had a couple of special guests in the Senate Chamber - my nieces were volunteering as Senate Pages! They helped by handing out essential documents to Senators during the session. It was also great to have Pastor Jeff Daws from Stockbridge Community Church as our Chaplain of the Day. His "Do Good" message resonated with us as we strive to make positive changes for the people of Georgia.

One important issue we tackled this week was crime and gang violence. As Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, I had the privilege of vetting Senate Bill 44. This bill, also known as the "Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act," would establish mandatory minimum sentences for those involved in gang violence with minors. It's a step towards creating a safer state, and I'm proud to support it.

Next week, we'll vote on Senate Bill 61, which I sponsored. This bill would repeal a sunset provision related to sick leave. It's important to prioritize family and health, and this bill allows employers to provide up to five days of sick leave for employees to care for their ill immediate family members. The General Assembly is sending a clear message to Georgians that we care about their well-being.

As we progress, the Majority Caucus and I will introduce additional legislation to continue making Georgia the best state to live in. Even though things will get busy with meetings, hearings, and votes in the next few weeks, I'm always here to listen to any concerns you might have. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you need anything!

Senator Brian Strickland
Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary

Amend the Operations of the Georgia Veterans Service Foundation
Senate Bill 21, sponsored by Senator Kay Kirkpatrick (R - Marietta) would revise operations of the Georgia Veterans Service Foundation. It would update the terms of its board of directors and the duties of the Commissioner of Veterans Service.  SB 21 passed by substitute with a vote of 52 to 0.

Establishing the Office of the Inspector General
Senate Bill 59, Senator Bo Hatchett (R - Cornelia), would  establish the Office of the Inspector General. This position would be appointed by the Governor and subject to confirmation by the Georgia State Senate. SB 59 passed with a vote of 54 to 0.

Revising the Anti-Telemarketing Bill
Senate Bill 73, sponsored by Senator Blake TIllery (R - Vidalia), would  remove  the "knowing" requirement as it related to the Anit-Telemarketing Bill. Current law prohibits a person from knowingly making or causing telemarketing  calls to  individuals on the Georgia Do Not Call List, SB 73 would remove that knowing component in addition to expanding liability for violating the prohibition on unsolicited telemarking calls. SB 73 passed by substitute with a vote of 56 to 0.

Commissioning a Monument Honoring Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
Senate Bill 69, sponsored by Senator Ben Watson (R - Savannah) would place a monument within the capitol grounds of the Honorable Clarence Thomas. SB 69 passed with a vote of 32 to 20.  

Fines for Vaping in Restricted Areas
Senate Bill 47, sponsored by Senator Chuck Hufstetler (R - Rome) would as electronic smoking devices, also known as vaping, to the list of tobacco related products prohibited to be used in restricted areas. Using such devices would result in a misdemeanor punishable by fine.  SB 47 passed by substitute with a vote of 51 to 3.

Authorizing the Insurance Commissioner of Georgia to Create and Operate an Exchange
Senate Bill 65, sponsored by Senator Ben Watson (R - Savannah), would authorize the Commissioner of Insurance to take certain actions, such as promulgating rules, applying for federal monies and establishing an advisory committee in order to crate, implement and operate a state, federal, or partnership exchange or marketplace.  SB 65 passed with a vote of 32 to 19.

Dogfighting as a Racketeering Activity
Senate Bill 68 sponsored by Senator Rick Williams (R - Brunswick), would  include the offense of dogfighting as a racketeering activity. This bill aims to stop corrupt organizations from participating in dogfighting in Georgia. SB 68 passed by substitute with a vote of 47 to 7.

Amending the Non-Covered Eye Care Services Act
Senate Bill 27, sponsored by Senator Matt Brass (R - Coweta), would  prohibit insurance agencies from engaging in various acts related to ophthalmologists and optometrists. Specifically, this legislation would limit insurers from requiring an ophthalmologist or optometrist to extend any discounts on services that are not covered by insurance in order to receive increased payments, better reimbursements, preferential treatment, or any other benefit. SB 27 passed with a vote of 51 to 0.

Qualifications for Secondary Metal Recyclers and Used, Detached Catalytic Converters
Senate Bill 60, sponsored by Bo Hatchett (R - Cornelia) would make it illegal to purchase or sell detached catalytic converters, used utility wire or copper that originates from an unlicensed business. The bill also requires an individual or business to be secondary materials recycler in order to possess a used or detached converter. SB 60 passed by substitute with a vote of 50 to 2.

Increase Penalties for Failing to Comply with National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline
Senate Bill 42 sponsored by Senator Mike Hodges (R - Brunswick), would increase the fine as it relates to failing to post to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline number. Specifically, the first offense must be punished by a fine between $50 to $1,000. The second or subsequent offense would implement a minimum fine of $1,000 and would maintain the current maximum of $5,000. SB 42 passed with a vote of 51 to 1.

Protecting Victims and Dismantling Georgia Street Gangs Act  
Senate Bill 12, sponsored by Senator John Albers (R - Roswell), would revise the punishment for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon or the first offender probationer when the predicate felony was a forcible felony or a felony involving domestic violence. It increases the penalty from a five year penalty to a penalty up to five years and no longer than 10 years.  SB 12 passed by substitute with a vote of 44 to 8.

"Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act"
Senate Bill 44, sponsored by Bo Hatchett (R - Cornelia) would establish mandatory minimum sentences for those who partake in gang violence involving minors. The first offense penalty now holds a minimum of 10 years of imprisonment while the second offense holds a minimum of 15. SB 44 passed by substitute with a vote of 31 to 22.

Amend Georgia Ad Valorem Taxation  
Senate Bill 56, sponsored by Senator Chuck Hufstetler (R - Rome), would require  the state revenue commissioner to contract with the board of the Employees' Retirement System of Georgia to offer certain county tax commissioners the option to participate in a state administered deferred compensation plan. SB 56 passed by substitute with a vote of 49 to 3.

Financial Protections for Georgia's Elders  
Senate Bill 84, sponsored by Senator Chuck Hufstetler (R - Rome), would amend the Georgia Uniform Securities Act of 2008 and provide financial protections for elder and disabled adults who may be victims of financial exploitation. SB 84 passed with a vote of 51 to 0.

Restricting Certain Social Media Platforms on State Equipment
Senate Bill 93, sponsored by Jason Anavitarte (R - Dallas) would prohibit a state employee or student from installing, using or visiting a social media platform controlled or influenced by a foreign adversary on state equipment. SB 93 passed by substitute with a vote of 50 to 0.

WorkforceEXCELeration Act
Senate Bill 112, sponsored by Senator Jason Anavitarte (R - Dallas) would provide the opportunity for students over the age of 21 to earn their high school diploma through an Adult Learners pilot program and authorize the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia to oversee the creation and implementation of the pilot program. SB 112 passed with a vote of 48 to 4.

Commending the Greater Georgia Action Inc. and Chair Kelly Loeffler
Senate Resolution 65, sponsored by President Pro Tempore Senator John F. Kennedy (R - Macon) recognizes and commends the work and achievements of Greater Georgia Action Inc, and its chairwoman, former U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler. SR 65 passed with a vote of 31 to 17.

Senator Jason Anavitarte (R - Dallas) kicked the week off by honoring his alma mater Georgia Tech with Senate Resolution 79. SR 79 recognizes  Georgia Tech's new head football coach, Brent Key, and J Bratt who was recently named the director of athletics at Georgia Tech.

On Tuesday, Senator Russ Goodman (R - Cogdell) and Sen. Lee Anderson (R - Grovetown) welcomed members of the Georgia Farm Bureau to the State Capitol in recognition of February 14, 2023 being "Georgia Farm Bureau Federation Day" at the State Capitol. The Georgia Farm Bureau is comprised of 158 county chapters with over 240,000 members and acts as a voice for production agriculture in legislative affairs.

Georgia Hearing Day
On Legislative Day 19, Senator Carden Summers (R - Cordele) brought the Georgia Society of Hearing Professionals to the Golden Dome for Georgia Hearing Day. The professionals urged the Senate Body to get their hearing checked as untreated hearing loss has significant ramifications.

FACS Day at the State Capitol
On Thursday, Senator Frank Ginn (R - Danielsville) recognized the Family and Consumer Sciences Organization, which is a comprehensive body of innovative research, knowledge, and skills that helps people make informed decisions about their well-being, relationships, and quality of life.  Sen. Ginn presented the group with Senate Resolution 19k, commending them for their efforts and dedication to the field of Family and Consumer Sciences.

FCCLA Students at the State Capitol
Senator Larry Walker (R - Perry) welcomed a group of students from Bonaire Middle School’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) organization to the Senate Chamber. The group was joined by their advisor Michaela Fitzwater, who teaches Family and Consumer Sciences at Bonaire Middle School along with Sen. Walker's son, Wade Walker, who teaches 8th Grade Georgia History.  

In spirit of Black History Month, Senator Michael 'Doc' Rhett (D - Marietta) used his point of personal privilege throughout the week to uplift Senators Freddie Powell Sims (D - Dawson), Gail Davenport (D -  Jonesboro) and David Lucas (D - Macon) for their individual contributions to the State of Georgia and for being influential Black leaders.

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In 2023 the Georgia State Senate District 17 will encompass parts of Walton, Newton, Henry, and Morgan with over 150,000 registered voters. Brian Strickland entered his third full term in the Georgia Senate in 2021. Brian, his wife Lindsay, and their two children reside in McDonough, GA. Through Brian’s leadership position at the capitol where he fights for District 17, and all of Georgia, he has impacted Georgia for the better through various executed actions.  Not only did Brian support the First Responder bill which aids police, firefighter, and EMS personnel but he was a key player in the passing of the Georgia Criminal Justice reform bills and Georgia Surprise Medical bills. Above and beyond that, Brian labored to bring funding to Southern Crescent Technical College making it one of the top technical schools in Georgia and is constantly raising the bar in the fight against human trafficking.

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