This Week in the Senate — February 16-18 2021

March 3, 2021

This week, the Senate completed its busiest week to date, passing a total of 10 bills and holding multiple committee meetings to properly vet legislation before it receives a vote on the Senate floor. At this point in the session, legislators begin to feel a sense of urgency, as we are well aware of our 40 day deadline to complete our work. With this target in mind, we approached this week with the intention of maximizing each moment to better the lives of Georgians.

In the Senate Chamber, we were kept busy with another full week of passing legislation. Of particular note was Senate Bill 87, or the Senator Jack Hill Veterans’ Act.” This bill, named for our former Senate colleague, would require state income tax return forms to provide taxpayers with the option of contributing to a qualified service disabled veterans organization. These contributions will greatly assist veterans who have served our country with distinction and is a most fitting namesake for one of our state’s most selfless legislators. In keeping the theme of helping out our veterans, we also passed Senate Bill 27, which would extend the time period in which a current or former member of the military is eligible to use their military certification to qualify for certain occupational licenses. This is a great bill that will allow those in military service, who frequently move across the country, to use the valuable certifications they earned while serving to benefit their communities.

We also passed legislation that will help our state recruit and retain educators. Senate Bill 88, a package of proposals supported by Governor Brian Kemp, would address several areas where the state can better support our teachers and grow the profession for future generations of prospective educators. Specifically, the bill would allow the Georgia Teacher of the Year to serve as an Ex-Officio member of the State Board of Education. This will allow our teachers to have a more direct input in how our state’s education curriculums are created. In addition, the bill would also allow military veterans who earned their teaching certification through untraditional means to be eligible to work at local school systems. These provisions, and more, would strengthen our state’s support of educators and retain them to continue instructing future generations of Georgians.

Next week, the Senate is scheduled to convene for five more legislative days. As our committee work continues to pick up, we can expect even more bills and resolutions to make their way through the Rules Committee and to the Senate floor for a vote. With nearly half the session already behind us, the clock is starting to tick on many of the important measures still before the General Assembly. If you have any questions about any bills up for consideration, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.

Senator Brian Strickland

District 17, Georgia Senate

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16

Extending License Issuing Time for Military Members

Sen. Bruce Thompson (R – White) sponsored Senate Bill 27, which would extend the time in which a current or former member of the military may qualify for the issuance of various professional licenses from 180 days to two years. This would include licenses for electrical contractors, plumbers, conditioned air contractors, low-voltage contractors and utility contractors. SB 27 passed with a vote of 49 to 0. – SB 27

Noncovered Eye Care Services Act

Senate Bill 43, sponsored by Sen. Matt Brass (R – Newnan), would establish certain acts that are deemed as unfair methods of com- petition or deception in relation to optometrists and ophthalmologists, and prohibit insurers from engaging in these acts. SB 43 passed with a vote of 50 to 0. – SB 43

Allowing New Georgia Residents to Obtain License by Endorsement

Sen. Bruce Thompson (R – White) sponsored Senate Bill 45, which would allow for certain professionals who recently moved to Georgia to obtain a license by endorsement. The person must have established residency in Georgia, hold a license in another state, pass any examination required and be in good standing in the other state in order to receive a license. SB 45 passed with a vote of 37 to 15. – SB 45

Establishing Standards for State Websites

Senate Bill 53, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R – Rome), would provide the Georgia Technology Authority the power to establish standards for state agencies’ website design, navigation and accessibility. This bill would meet federal standards for website design. SB 53 passed with a vote of 52 to 0. – SB 53

The Senator Jack Hill Veterans’ Act

Sen. Michael ‘Doc’ Rhett (D – Marietta) sponsored Senate Bill 87, which would allow a taxpayer in the state to make a voluntary contribution on their income tax return to a qualified service disabled veterans benefit organization, in order to aid and assist service-disabled veterans. SB 87 passed with a vote of 50 to 0. – SB 87

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17

Increasing Cybersecurity Protections for Georgia Businesses

Senate Bill 52, sponsored by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R – White), would require businesses that store and maintain citizens personal data to comply with established cybersecurity standards to avoid being held liable in the event of a data breach. The bill would provide businesses that comply with the program an affirmative defense to liability. SB 52 passed with a vote of 31 to 18. – SB 52

Changing the Name of the Office of College and Career Transitions

Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga) sponsored Senate Bill 81, which would change the name of the Office of College and Career Transitions to the Office of College and Career Academies. Additionally, it would provide collaboration between the Technical College System of Georgia, the Workforce Development Board and the Department of Economic Development. SB 81 passed with a vote of 51 to 0. – SB 81

Teacher Pipeline Legislation

Senate Bill 88, sponsored by Sen. Russ Goodman (R – Valdosta), would establish a number of provisions related to Georgia’s teach- ing structure. This includes allowing the Georgia Teacher of the Year to serve as advisor ex officio to the State Board of Education. Other provisions would support a pathway for armed force veterans to become certified teachers, revise the tiered evaluation systems, and adjust the Professional Standards Commission’s duties in relation to teacher education programs and historically black colleges and universities. SB 88 passed with a vote of 50 to 0. – SB 88

U.S. Representative Earl “Buddy” Carter Visits the Senate Chamber

Congressman Earl “Buddy” Carter (R – GA) visited the Senate and thanked the senators for the work they are doing. Rep. Carter emphasized the importance of rural broadband, explaining its necessity for telehealth and access to education, and mentioned his work on expanding rural broadband at the federal level. He extended his gratitude to Georgia senators for doing their part at the state level.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18

Authorizing Vaccines During Public Health Emergencies

Senate Bill 46, sponsored by. Sen. Dean Burke (R – Bainbridge), would allow certain healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and cardiac technicians, to administer vaccines during declared public health emergencies. The bill would also codify the Georgia Registry of Immunization Trans- actions and Services (GRITS), and would permit third parties access to GRITS information for disease, injury or disability prevention, as long as the party follows all federal privacy laws. SB 46 passed with a vote of 47 to 3. – SB 46

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Georgia State Senate District 17 encompasses parts of Newton, Henry, and Rockdale counties with nearly 150,000 registered voters. Brian Strickland entered his second full term in the Georgia Senate in 2020. 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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