This Week in the Senate — February 8-11 2021

February 16, 2021

On Friday, the Senate completed the fifth week of the legislative session. As we wrapped up legislative day sixteen, we feel strongly that we have continued to tackle the issues of the utmost importance to Georgians. Notably, this week brought a final vote on our supplemental budget, the filing of several election reform bills and discussions on expanding broadband access. Everything that we do here is in the best interests of our constituents and this week’s work was no different.

House Bill 80, the Amended Budget for the 2021 Fiscal Year (AFY21), was the most significant piece of legislation the Senate passed this week. In total, the AFY21 budget stands at $26.5 billion, an increase of roughly $654 million over the current budget. Like most budget cycles, education funding makes up the largest share of expenditures and this year was no different as $9.6 billion (or 43% of the entire budget) was directed to K-12 education. Due to our improved economic climate, we were able to restore $567 million for QBE that we were originally forced to reduce in the original FY21 budget. Also included were $40 million to purchase 520 school buses to replace those that are well past their recommended lifecycle. School buses are vital, not only to transport our students to and from school, but during the pandemic they have taken on a larger role and now deliver lunches to children in rural areas and serve as Wi-Fi hotspots where internet can be accessed for virtual learning or to complete homework assignments. As originally mentioned in Gov. Brian Kemp’s State of the State Address, this budget also reflects a $1,000 bonus for our educators who have worked so hard to adjust to teaching in the midst of a pandemic.

Aside from the budget, the Senate also took up several other bills addressing critical issues in our state. Senate Bill 33 would allow a victim of human trafficking to file a cause of action for civil charges against their perpetrator. On a similar note, Senate Bill 34 would allow victims of human trafficking to petition a court for a name change and for the change to be kept under seal. Usually name changes are available as public record, but we believe it is necessary to provide victims with these protections to better ensure their safety. Both Gov. Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp have been strong advocates for these issues and while more remains to be done, I am proud of the Senate’s efforts on these victim-centric bills.

Next week, the Senate will return to session on Tuesday, February 16. We will convene for three legislative days, in addition to numerous committee meetings that are scheduled to take place. If I can ever be of assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office here at the Capitol. I am always more than happy to be of service, and I look forward to continuing to represent your interests in Georgia.

Senator Brian Strickland

District 17, Georgia Senate

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 8

Establishing Regulations for Surgeries Administering Anesthesia Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R – Marietta) sponsored Senate Bill 5, which would establish rules and regulations within the Georgia Composite Medical Board for administering sedation in an office-based setting, as well as require anyone ad- ministering anesthesia in a dental facility to be licensed. SB 5 passed with a vote of 45 to 0. – SB 5

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9

Passing the Fiscal Year 2021 Amended Budget

House Bill 80, carried by Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia), is the Amended Fiscal Year 2021 Budget. The amended budget of $26.5 billion includes increased spending on public health, education, rural broadband and contributions to Georgia’s emergency fund. HB 80 passed with a vote of 52 to 0. – HB 80

Providing Added Protections for Patients of Drug Abuse and Education Programs

Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R – Marietta), would outline greater protective measures for those enrolled in drug abuse treatment and education programs through two components. The first section of the bill would ban facilities from receiving referral fees or reimbursement related to patient referrals. The second section would outline excessive, fraudulent acts related to high-tech drug testing and enumerate penalties. SB 4 passed with a vote of 52 to 0. – SB 4

Senate Adopts Adjournment Resolution

Senate Resolution 82, sponsored by Sen. Mike Dugan (R – Carrollton), outlines legislative days 14 through 25 for the 2021 Legislative Session. The schedule is as follows: February 9th, legislative day 14; February 10th, legislative day 15; February 11th, legislative day 16; February 16th, legislative day 17; February 17th, legislative day 18; February 18th, legislative day 19; February 22nd, legislative day 20; February 23rd, legislative day 21; February 24th, legislative day 22; February 25th, legislative day 23; February 26th, legislative day 24; March 1st, legislative day 25. – SR 82

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10

Creating a License Plate Supporting United States Troops Sen. Bruce Thompson (R – White) sponsored Senate Bill 44, which would allow for a special license plate that would support members of the United States military by disbursing funds from the sale of the license plate to Support Our Troops, Inc. SB 44 passed with a vote of 51 to 0. – SB 44

Indemnification For Public Safety Officers

Senate Bill 60, sponsored by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R – White), would expand the Georgia State Indemnification Fund to allow compensation to be paid to public safety officers who suffer from a heart attack, stroke or vascular rupture resulting in death or disability, that was sustained as a result of serving on duty. SB 60 would align Georgia law with federal statutes. SB 60 passed with a vote of 51 to 0. – SB 60

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 11

Revising Public Disclosure Exemptions

Senate Bill 32, sponsored by Sen. Matt Brass (R – Newnan), would allow certain personal records of federal employees, including addresses, phone numbers, birthdays and other sensitive information, to be exempt from public record disclosures. SB 32 passed with a vote of 48 to 0. – SB 32

Allowing Human Trafficking Victims to Sue For Civil Damages

Senate Bill 33, sponsored by Sen. Clint Dixon (R – Buford), would allow victims of human trafficking to file a claim for a civil cause of action against their perpetrators for damages and attorney’s fees. Victims would be allowed to pursue legal action up to ten years after the cause of action or after the victim turns 18 years old. SB 33 passed with a vote of 50 to 0. – SB 33

Name Change Procedures for Human Trafficking Victims

Senate Bill 34, sponsored by Sen. Clint Dixon (R – Buford), would allow victims of human trafficking to petition the court for a name change and keep the change under seal, as well as waive certain publication requirements. The court may later unseal the change or file a redacted version for public record. SB 34 passed with a vote of 50 to 0. – SB 34

Allowing Independent Inspections for Regulatory Services

Senate Bill 49, sponsored by Sen. Clint Dixon (R – Buford), would allow individuals applying for regulatory services to hire an identified private professional provider to carry out the requested plan review or inspection, regardless of whether or not the local county or city is able to provide the services in the established time frames. SB 49 passed with a vote of 39 to 13. – SB 49

Requiring Notice of Solicitations

Senate Bill 86, sponsored by Sen. Larry Walker (R – Perry), would require solicitation for services concerning corporate filings to contain a notice at the top stating that it is a solicitation and not a bill, official government document nor has been sent by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. SB 86 passed with a vote of 47 to 3. – SB 86

SPECIAL ORDERS

Senate Agreements

The Senate agreed to the House Amendment to the Senate Substitute on the following: HB 80 (50-0)

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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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