This Week in the Senate — February 22-26 2021

March 3, 2021

Week seven under the Gold Dome brought us five legislative days in which we passed numerous bills and held several committee meetings. As we inch closer to Crossover Day, our days here in the Capitol have stretched longer, but are nonetheless crucial to passing comprehensive bills. As always, I am dedicated to supporting the legislation that benefits my constituents in this great state of Georgia.

Georgia has long been known to be a leader in criminal justice reform. Over the past few years, the General Assembly has worked to provide a second chance for nonviolent offenders and ensure that we actually achieve the goal of reducing recidivism. To further advance this effort, I sponsored Senate Bill 105, which would allow certain offenders to be removed from probation early, as long they have served as least three years on probation, are current on all fines, and have not been convicted of a new major crime. This is a critical step to allow more state resources to be spent on those who pose a threat, while giving a second chance to individuals who are taking the appropriate steps to rectify their previous crimes. I am proud to see this measure pass the Senate to further cement Georgia’s status as a leader in criminal justice reform.

This week, we also passed an important measure to enhance the safety of our college students with SB 85, known as the “Max Gruver Act.” SB 85 is named after a Georgia resident who tragically lost his life in a hazing related incident at an out of state school. SB 85 works to eliminate harmful hazing at Georgia colleges and universities by making it a felony to haze minors, with a fine up to $50,000. However, the provides protections for those who act in a good faith and in a timely manner to render aide to someone injured in a hazing incident. College organizations, like our fraternities and sororities, often produce some of our highest academically achieving students and contribute to their communities through a wealth of service opportunities. Those organizations playing by the rules deserve to be celebrated and recognized for that success. However, when they engage in harmful hazing practices, urgent action must be taken to guarantee the safety of all students.

Aside from criminal justice reform efforts, the Senate took up another issue we have made significant progress on in recent years: enhancing our foster care system. Senate Bill 28 would increase the annual training hours for juvenile court intake officers, allow heresy to be considered in certain juvenile court hearings, and would include emotional abuse to existing child abuse provisions. These changes will strengthen our foster care system and provide our foster children with additional protections to better ensure their safety.

Crossover Day, the deadline for the Senate to pass Senate and House Bills to pass the House, will fall on Monday, March 8. With roughly a week to go before this deadline is reached, the multiple committee meetings will be held and our days in the Senate Chamber will grow even longer to ensure that every necessary piece of legislation has the opportunity to become law this year. If you ever have any questions or concerns about bills being considered by the General Assembly, I encourage you to reach out to my office.

Senator Brian Strickland

District 17, Georgia Senate

Monday, February 22

Setting Term Limits for U.S. Senators and Representatives

Senate Resolution 28, sponsored by Sen. Bill Cowsert (R – Athens), would request a convention of states in order to propose a U.S. Constitutional amendment that would set limits on the number of terms that members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate may hold. SR 28 passed with a vote of 34 to 20. – SR 28

Requiring Balanced Budget at Federal Level

Sen. Bill Cowsert (R – Athens) sponsored Senate Resolution 29, which would request a convening of states to consider proposing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would require Congress to pass a balanced budget. SR 29 passed with a vote of 34 to 20. – SR 29

Tuesday, February 23

Revising When Absentee Ballots Are Counted

Senate Bill 40, sponsored by Sen. Jen Jordan (D – Atlanta), would require registrars and absentee ballot clerks to begin opening and processing absentee ballots on the second Monday before a primary, election, or runoff. As the law currently stands, absentee ballots can only be tabulated beginning at 7 a.m. on an election day. SB 40 passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – SB 40

Requiring Identification When Requesting Absentee Ballots

Sen. Larry Walker (R – Perry) sponsored Senate Bill 67, which would require the submission of identification when requesting an absentee ballot. Voters would be able to use their Georgia driver’s license number, voter personal identification number or other qualified forms of identification issued in Georgia Code to request an absentee ballot. The submission of an ID would replace the current process of signature matching. SB 67 passed with a vote of 35 to 18. – SB 67

Shortening the Time Frame for Submitting Voter History Records

Senate Bill 184, sponsored by Sen. Bill Cowsert (R – Athens), would change the amount of time the board of registrar’s in each Georgia county has to send its updated voter history records to the Secretary of the State from within 60 days to within 30 days of an election. There would be a $100 penalty per day beyond the allotted 30-day time period that it takes the board to submit the report. SB 184 passed with a vote of 37 to 15. – SB 184

Mandating the Reporting of Ballot Information

Sen. Bill Cowsert (R – Athens) sponsored Senate Bill 184, which would require the Secretary of State to establish and maintain an election reporting system in which the number of ballots cast in an election, by type, must be reported before uploading vote totals. SB 184 passed with a vote of 34 to 18. – SB 188


Wednesday, February 24

The Dexter Mosley Act

Sen. Bruce Thompson (R – White) sponsored Senate Bill 51, which would authorize homeschooled students in grades 6-12 to participate in extracurricular activities, including sports, drama and music, through their residential public school system. Any student wishing to opt into an activity must be enrolled in one qualifying course through the school system for the duration of the extracurricular activity. SB 51 passed with a vote of 39 to 15. – SB 51

Creating a Chief Assistance Elections Officer

Senate Bill 89, sponsored by Sen. Butch Miller (R – Gainesville), would establish a new chief elections assistance officer position, appointed by the State Elections Board, to oversee, support and assist low performing county elections offices. Any local office deemed low-performing would be subjected to an evaluation and would be offered ways to enhance operations. A superintendent who fails to implement the new recommended procedures may receive a suspension. SB 89 passed with a vote of 35 to 18. – SB 89

Observing Standard Time Year-Round

Sen. Ben Watson (R – Savannah) sponsored Senate Bill 100, which would require that Georgia observe standard time year-round. In the event that Congress amends U.S code to allow states to observe daylight saving time year-round, Georgia will switch over to daylight saving time. SB 100 passed with a vote of 46 to 7. – SB 100

Allowing for Controlled Burning Without a Permit

Sen. Tyler Harper (R – Ocilla) sponsored Senate Bill 119, which would allow citizens to burn leaves, yard debris or hand-piled vegetation without a permit under certain circumstances. The parameters include only burning from sunrise to sunset and ensuring that the burns are safe distances from woodlands and residences. SB 119 passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – SB 119

Forming Committees For State Economic Studies

Senate Bill 148, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R – Rome), would create the 2021 Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians and a Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure. These groups would be responsible for analyzing Georgia’s economic activity and providing recommendations. SB 148 passed with a vote of 54 to 0. – SB 148

Establishing Guidelines for Performing Groups

Sen. Bill Cowsert (R – Athens) presented Senate Bill 157, which would prevent unauthorized or deceptive ad- vertising, performances or productions by performing groups appropriating the likeness or music of real recording artists. The bill would establish some exceptions, including tribute bands, as well as performing groups that contain a member of the original recording group. SB 157 passed with a vote of 54 to 0. – SB 157

Revising the Internal Revenue Code

Sen. Billy Hickman (R – Statesboro) carried House Bill 265, which would update the Internal Revenue Code to make it conformable for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2020. HB 265 passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – HB 265

Thursday, February 25

Terminating or Shortening Probation Sentences

Senate Bill 105, sponsored by Sen. Brian Strickland (R – McDonough), would allow for the termination or shortening of probation in certain cases in order to provide more pathways for early release. Defendants must not have any prior felony convictions and adhere to behavioral conditions. Courts must also hear probation petitions within 90 days of filing. SB 105 passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – SB 105

Removing Requirement for Mobile Home Decals

Senate Bill, 193, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga), would remove the requirement for mobile homeowners to display a decal indicating they have paid their ad valorem taxes. SB 193 states that such decal requirements are up to the discretion of individual counties. SB 193 was passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – SB 193

Revising Statutory Form for the Affidavit of Nonpayment

Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R – Marietta) sponsored Senate Bill 143, which would permit a copy of an Affidavit of Nonpayment, in place of a lien, to be accepted. The Affidavit must be sent to the company’s address or the registered agent’s address. SB 143 passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – SB 143

Allowing Other Vehicles to Transport Children Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega) sponsored Senate Bill 159, which would permit the use of vehicles other than school buses to transport students to and from school-related activities. The bill would require local school boards to cover students through insurance in the case of injury, and would require motor vehicles to meet minimum standards and requirements. SB 159 passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – SB 159

Friday, February 26

Refining the Foster Care System

Sen. Bo Hatchett (R – Cornelia) sponsored Senate Bill 28, which would redefine the term “child abuse,” revise code regarding mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse, adjust training requirements for juvenile court intake officers and al- low the use of hearsay evidence in court cases regarding the foster care system. SB 28 passed with a vote of 49 to 0. – SB 28

The Max Gruver Act

Senate Bill 85, sponsored by Sen. John Albers (R – Roswell), would revise the definition of hazing and make the hazing of minors a felony with a fine of up to $50,000. SB 85 would punish those who fail to render reasonable assistance and offer protection to those who act in good faith and in a timely manner regarding hazing. Colleges and universities would also be required to provide public reports of hazing violations to ensure transparency. SB 85 passed with a vote of 49 to 0. – SB 85

Creating A Driver’s Education Course For Interacting With Law Enforcement

Senate Bill 115, sponsored by Sen. Randy Roberston (R – Cataula), would allow the Department of Drivers Services and the Department of Public Safety to collaborate on an instructional course that would teach Georgia drivers how to interact with law enforcement officers, specifically during routine traffic stops. SB 115 passed with a vote of 36 to 13. – SB 115

The Maternity Supportive Housing Act

Senate Bill 116, sponsored by Sen. Randy Roberston (R – Cataula), would allow nonprofits to build residential homes for pregnant women aged 18 and older in Georgia counties and municipalities. These women would live in the home for the duration of their pregnancies and for 18 months after giving birth. SB 116 passed with a vote of 32 to 17. – SB 116

Allowing Appointed Judges to Issue Unsecured Judicial Releases

Senate Bill 174, sponsored by Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega), would allow an appointed judge serving in the capacity of fulfilling the term of an elected judge to issue an unsecured judicial release. As the law currently stands, only an elected judge and a judge sit- ting by designation may issue an unsecured judicial release. SB 174 passed with a vote of 50 to 0. – SB 174

Removing Requirement for Mobile Home Decals

Senate Bill, 193, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga), would remove the requirement for mobile home- owners to display a decal indicating they have paid their ad valorem taxes. However, such decal requirements are up to the discretion of individual counties. SB 193 was passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – SB 193

Transferring Certain Authorities from the Board of Public Safety to DPS

Sen. Tyler Harper (R – Ocilla) sponsored Senate Bill 198, which would transfer authority from the Board of Public Safety to the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety in regards to subsistence and per diem allowance for certain personnel. SB 198 passed with a vote of 48 to 0. – SB 198

Requesting Delinquent Taxpayer Information

Senate Bill 201, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R – Rome), would provide definitions for a “delinquent taxpayer” and “financial institutions,” and would establish a process for the Department of Revenue to obtain delinquent taxpayer’s account information from financial institutions. SB 201 passed with a vote of 47 to 1. – SB 201

Expanding Personnel in Nursing Homes

Sen. Larry Walker (R – Perry) sponsored Senate Bill 215, which would allow a pathway for certified nursing assistants registered through the Department of Community Health to get additional training and become certified medication aides. Once they are certified medication aides, they would be able to administer medication to nursing home residents under certain circumstances. SB 215 passed with a vote of 50 to 0. – SB 215

Political Expenditure Transparency Act

Senate Bill 221, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga), would require campaigns to report contributions and expenditures. SB 221 would allow for the creation of leadership committees that would receive contributions and make expenditures. SB 221 passed with a vote of 30 to 21. – SB 221

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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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