The first week of the first term of the 156th General Assembly has officially concluded, and we are off to a busy start. The events this week were largely ceremonial, as all 56 senators were sworn into office by Georgia Supreme Court Justice Charlie Bethel. We also welcomed in 10 new senators, who I am looking forward to getting to know and working alongside. While, for the most part, our first week felt like business as usual, there is a great deal of work going on behind the scenes to protect members, staff and visitors from exposure to COVID-19. Specifically, all legislators and General Assembly staff members undergo testing twice a week, committee rooms are socially distanced and mask-wearing is mandatory on the Senate floor. These protections are put in place for everyone’s safety, but in no way inhibit legislators from carrying out their work here under the Gold Dome.
Additionally, members of the Senate received their committee assignments. I am honored to announce that I have been selected to serve as Chairman for the Senate Committee on Judiciary. I believe that my professional life as a practicing attorney has well equipped me to take on this responsibility and I know, with the help of my fellow committee members, we will do great things for Georgia through our work. Additionally, I will continue to serve as the Vice Chairman of Higher Education and as a member of the Appropriations, Banking and Financial Institutions, and Ethics Committees.
Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp delivered his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the Senate and the House. In his speech, he outlined his priorities for 2021 and highlighted a few specific proposals that we are likely to take up in the legislature. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to permeate throughout society, there is a lot of work to be done. Gov. Kemp addressed these concerns with several plans to help Georgia return as an even stronger state. This includes allocating funds to expand access to rural broadband service across Georgia, pushing towards a widely accessible COVID-19 vaccine, and providing our education system with enhanced financial support. He also proposed that teachers and educational staff should be receiving a one-time supplement of $1,000 for their hard work adapting to unusual and difficult circumstances throughout the pandemic. As we continue to learn more about these and other initiatives in the months ahead, I will keep you updated.
Next week, we will meet for what we call “budget week” under the Gold Dome. This is a crucial time in the legislative process, where we do not gavel in for the legislative days, but instead attend budget hearings that provide an overview of the governor’s priorities for the upcoming fiscal year, as well as hear from state agency and department heads about their current and projected budgetary needs. The only constitutional duty required of the Georgia legislature is to pass a balanced budget, and the time we spend during budget week helps to ensure that state funds are spent conservatively and responsibly. I do not take my role in the Senate Appropriations Committee lightly, and will do all that I can to ensure that the needs of our district, and the entire state, are accurately and entirely represented in our final budgets.
Thank you for your continued trust in me as your voice at the Capitol. It is an absolute honor to represent you, District 17. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office if you have any questions or concerns over the several legislative weeks.
Senator Brian Strickland
District 17, Georgia Senate
MONDAY, JANUARY 11
Senate Votes to Adopt Senate Rules for 2021-2022
General Assembly Senate Resolution 4, sponsored by Sen. Butch Miller (R – Gainesville), codifies the Senate rules for the 2021- 2022 Georgia General Assembly and discusses the new COVID-19 precautions put in place this session. SR 4 passed with a vote of 53 to 0. – SR 4
Sen. Butch Miller Elected President Pro Tempore of the Senate
Sen. Butch Miller (R – Gainesville) was unanimously elected to serve as the Senate President Pro Tempore for the 156th Georgia General Assembly. This will be Sen. Miller’s third session as the President Pro Tempore, after having first been elected in 2018 for the second session of the 154th Georgia General Assembly.
Former Senator and Current Georgia Supreme Court Justice Charles Bethel Swears in Senators
Georgia Supreme Court Justice Charles Bethel administered the oath of office to all 56 senators elected to the 156th Georgia General Assembly. Of the 56, 11 were newly elected senators.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 12
Senate Adopts Adjournment Resolution
House Resolution 10, carried by Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega), outlines legislative days one through five for the 2021 legislative session. The schedule is as follows: January 11th, legislative day 1; January 12th, legislative day 2; January 13th, legislative day 3; January 14th, legislative day 4; January 26th, legislative day 5. – HR 10
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13
2021 Session Committee Assignments Announced
Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan and the Senate Committee on Assignments announced the 2021 Senate Committee assignments. For a full list of committee assignments, please visit: https://www.legis.ga.gov/committees/senate
THURSDAY, JANUARY 14
Governor Kemp Delivers the State of the State Address
Governor Brian P. Kemp delivered his third annual State of the State address in which he highlighted his priorities for the 2021 Legislative Session and reflected on the challenges that 2020 brought to the state of Georgia. He began by discussing the impact of COVID-19 on the state, thanking healthcare workers for their sacrifices in keeping Georgians safe and discussing Operation Warp Speed’s goals to increase the rate of vaccinations. Additionally, he discussed several priorities for the upcoming legislative year. This includes a stress on funding education, restoring $647 million to local school systems and giving teachers and employees a one-time $1,000 bonus, as well as increased spending on rural broadband access and healthcare, such as $329 million for Medic- aid and $76 million for Georgia Pathways and Access. You can watch the full address here: https://livestream.com/accounts/25225474/events/8824297/videos/216035151.
Budget hearings will be held on TUESDAY, JANUARY 19 - FRIDAY, JANUARY 22 in Room 341 of the Georgia State Capitol. You can watch online here: https://livestream.com/accounts/25225474/events/8824293
The Georgia Senate will reconvene at 10:00 a.m. on TUESDAY, JANUARY 26.
Distributed by the Georgia Senate Press Office on behalf of the Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller.
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.