This Week in the Senate — February 6-10, 2023

February 14, 2023


On Thursday we closed on Legislative Day 16, moving us one day closer to “Crossover Day.” On “Crossover Day,” which convenes on Legislative Day 28, is the last day for a bill to pass out of the chamber it was introduced and move forward for consideration in the opposite chamber. We are working diligently to ensure all bills are heard and voted before then.

Much of the Senate's time was devoted to Appropriations subcommittee hearings which serve as an opportunity for Senate members to run through each line item in various sections of the budget with a fine-toothed comb to ensure all taxpayer dollars are being properly allocated. The subcommittees cover areas including agriculture, criminal justice, education, transportation, health and human services, and more. As I have previously mentioned, each year the General Assembly is tasked with the one Constitutional obligation to pass a balanced budget, therefore these meetings are crucial to the budget process. Once each section of the budget has been sufficiently vetted, HB 18 will make its way to the Senate Appropriations Committee to hold a vote on the bill. I look forward to providing you with updates as we work towards this obligatory goal.

This week, I filed two bills, Senate Bill 133 and Senate Bill 143. SB 133 intends to create a uniformed process to assume custody of children as a result of disposition orders and require cohesive reporting requirements. This law is intended to help children who have fallen victim to the crimes of their caregivers. SB 143 decreases the age of eligibility for retirement benefits for appellate court judges. Previous law stated the age of eligibility was 65 years of age, the proposed legislation would reduce the age to 60 years of age. This bill is designed to alleviate burn out and helps mitigate stagnancy within the judicial branch.  

On Tuesday, the Senate recognized the courageous men and women who serve as firefighters for Firefighter Recognition Day at the state Capitol. There are over 30,000 firefighters amongst 900 fire departments in the State of Georgia. These brave individuals risk their lives every day to provide Georgians emergency services. It was my honor to introduce Senate Resolution 92 that recognizes February 7, 2023, as Firefighters Recognition Day, especially since my very own brother in law is one of the 30,000 distinguished firefighters in our great state. With Senate Resolution 78, the Senate body honored Atlanta Braves’ very own Michael Harris II, who is the recipient of the 2022 National Rookie of the Year Award. During his debut game against the Miami Marlins, Harris II displayed his character, athleticism and passion.

I, along with the Majority Caucus intend to introduce additional legislation that continues to make Georgia the greatest state to live in. The next several weeks will be packed with meetings, hearings, and votes; however, I am never too busy to hear any concerns from back home. Please don’t hesitate if you have any questions or concerns, or if I can be of any other assistance.

Senator Brian Strickland
Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary

Repeal Sunset  on Prohibition of Government COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements
Senate Bill 1, sponsored by Senator Greg Dolezal (R - Cumming), would strike the end date of an existing prohibition, which prohibits state and local government agencies in Georgia to require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations. SB 1 passed by substitute with a vote of 31 to 21.

Amending Qualification Requirements for Sheriffs
Senate Bill 37, sponsored by Randy Robertson (R - Cataula) amends qualifications for Georgia Sheriffs by requiring candidates running for the Office of Sheriff to be in "good standing" with the Georgia POST Council at the time of qualifying for candidacy.
SB 37 passed with a vote of 45 to 5.

Permitting Teleconferences as for Local Government Meetings
Senate Bill 26, sponsored by Senator Greg Dolezal (R - Cumming) would allow hearings and permit meetings to be held virtually for development authorities and involvement districts. Amendment 1 to SB 26 would add Workforce Development Boards to the list of permitted entities to hold public hearings via teleconference. SB 26 passed with a vote of 52 to 0.

Increasing Penalties for Pimping and Pandering
Senate Bill 36, sponsored by Senator Randy Robertson (R - Cataula) amends current law to increase the penalty associated with pimping and pandering when the victim is under 18 years of age. SB 36 passed by substitute with a vote of 33 to 16.

Reducing Barriers to State Employees Act of 2023
Senate Bill 3, sponsored by Senator John Albers (R - Roswell), would require the Department of Administrative Services to frequently assess a number of education requirements necessary for various jobs associated with certain entities. SB3 passed by substitute with a vote of 49 to 1.

Eliminating and Revising Various Boards and Commissions
Senate Bill 23 sponsored by Senator Kay Kirkpatrick (R - Marietta), would repeal a number of inactive state authorities, committees, councils and commissions currently enumerated by state law. SB 23 passed with a vote of 50 to 0.

On Monday, Senator Donzella James (D - Atlanta) kicked off this week with a celebration of Rosa Park's life, her legacy and in spirit of her 110th birthday. Rosa Park's niece, and additional family were in attendance and spoke to the Senate Body about her late aunt and her hopes to make Rosa Park Day a national holiday.

February 9 is recognized as 4-H Day at the State Capitol. The University of Georgia 4-H Program empowers youth to learn, discover and create to become self-directing, productive and contributing members of society through hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture and civic engagement.

World War II Vet's 100th Birthday
On Legislative Day 13, Senator Max Burns (R - Sylvania) brought WWII Veteran Louis Graziano to the Senate Chamber to wish and sing him a happy birthday, celebrating his 100th birthday. Graziano is the last living veteran who witnessed Germany surrender in 1945 and was part of he Omaha Beach Invasion. The Georgia native spoke to the Senate body and reflected back on his years of duty.

Rookie of the Year Recipient
On Legislative Day 14, Atlanta Braves player Michael Harris II was recognized for earning the 2022 National Rookie of the Year Award after his debut game against the Miami Marlins in 2022.

Forestry Day and Okefenokee Swamp Day Under the Gold Dome
On February 6-7, 2023 the Georgia Forestry Association (GFA) came to the Capitol to celebrate Forestry Day. The GFA works daily to promote a healthy business and political climate for forest landowners, forest product manufacturers and forest-based business. Forestry Day provides a great opportunity to forge relationships between law makers and foresters in the state.  Okefenokee Swamp Day is recognized in Georgia on February 10, and celebrates the wildlife and natural resources provided by the Okefenokee Swamp.

In spirit of Black History Month, Senator Michael 'Doc' Rhett (D - Marietta) used his point of personal privilege throughout the week to uplift Senators Ed Harbison (D -  Columbus),  Emanuel Jones (D - Decatur), and Valencia Seay (D - Riverdale) 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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