COMMITTEES AND PRIORITIES
After a tedious week of hearing budget proposals, the Senate came back to order on Monday, January 23 for the fifth day of the Legislative Session. The Senate body has increased activity, and the pace has officially picked up under the Gold Dome.
The Georgia Senate is eager to work on legislation to create better economic opportunities across the state, strengthen public safety, support Georgia families, and build a stronger, healthier state that is well-poised for the future. A number of bills have been read for the first time and assigned to committee, and many of our committees met for the first time this week to adopt their committee rules.
Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Senator Max Burns (R - Sylvania) was assigned to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, as well as Senate Bill 7 which was sponsored by Senator Brandon Beach (R - Alpharetta). A few bills sponsored by Senator John Albers (R - Roswell) were also assigned to Judiciary. Wednesday and Thursday followed suit with additional bills introduced and assigned. The Senate is hard at work to introduce legislation that will better the lives of all Georgians. I look forward to the opportunity to properly vet each bill that comes before the Judiciary committee as we often hear complex detailed legislation.
This week, we also had the pleasure of hearing from our Governor Brian Kemp as he delivered his annual State of the State Address from the House Chamber on Wednesday morning. A few areas that the governor focused heavily on included education, teacher and state employee pay raises, healthcare accessibility for rural parts of the state, crime and public safety, and many others. In addition, the Senate Majority Caucus along with Lt. Governor Burt Jones, held a press conference outlining their legislative priorities for the 2023 Legislative Session which included a number of similar issues and proposals. Additionally, the Senate Democratic Caucus held a press conference to outline their legislative priorities for the 2023 Legislative Session. I am pleased with the groundwork that has been laid for this legislative session. Georgia has maintained the standard as the number one state in the nation in which to do business for nine consecutive years and I have no doubt that with these legislative priorities outlined, we are well on out way to continuing to uphold that standard.
The Senate will reconvene on Monday, January 30, 2023 to kick off legislative days 9-12. As always, if I can ever be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.
Senator Brian Strickland
Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary
STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS
On Wednesday, Governor Brian Kemp gave his State of the State Address in the House Chamber. He reflected on his first term and credited the state's greatest achievements to both chambers working hand-in-hand with his office, resulting in economic growth. Gov. Kemp outlined education, public safety and healthcare as legislative priorities.
Gov. Kemp outlined some budget highlights as well, sighting the $1.9 billion to be devoted to education and fully fund the QBE Formula. Additionally, Gov. Kemp announced 17,500 news jobs that is expected to bring in more than $13 billion in investments to Georgia.
Gov. Kemp announced his intention to fulfill former-Governor Zell Miller's vision for the HOPE Scholarship, covering 100% of tuition for eligible students. By covering 100% of tuition, students will receive roughly $1,000 in additional financial assistance in the coming school year.
Gov. Kemp ended his address by outlining his plans to ensure Georgians have access to affordable healthcare through new implementations with The Georgia Pathways to Coverage program.
In response to Governor Brian Kemp's State of the State Address, Minority Leader Senator Gloria Butler (D - Stone Mountain) and the Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus, Senator Elena Parent (D - Atlanta) held press conferences to outline the minority party's priorities for this legislative period. The Minority Caucus is pleased with the economic growth under Gov. Kemp's leadership but calls for the Majority Caucus to reconsider the proposed implementation of state funding.
Both senators outlined increasing the state's minimum wage and economic development plans in business, technology and stem jobs as well as increasing healthcare access and providers to Georgians across the state.
Additional initiatives outlined by the minority party includes codifying abortion access in the Georgia State Constitution, raising teacher's pay by $10,000, a full expansion of Medicaid and repealing gun legislation to further restrict gun ownership.
MAJORITY CAUCUS PRESS CONFERENCE
Following Governor Kemp's State of the State Address, The Majority Caucus held a press conference outlining their priorities for the 2023 Legislative Session. Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch (R - Dahlonega) highlighted four areas the caucus intends to prioritize such as, bolstering opportunity and innovation in Georgia's economy, cultivating an educated workforce, and creating safer communities as well as supporting the health and well-being of families and at-risk youth.
Senator Chuck Hufstetler (R - Rome) will spearhead efforts to bolster opportunity and innovation through a prudent income tax reform and tax credit review, implementing new taxpayer and homeowner relief initiatives, and by laying the groundwork for continued electrification of transportation.
Senator Billy Hickman (R - Statesboro) will lead efforts in cultivating an educated workforce by improving literacy rates and implementing learning loss grants while Senator John Albers (R - Roswell) will spearhead a comprehensive review of degree requirements for state employment. To create safer communities, Senator Randy Robertson (R - Cataula) will lead efforts in implementing serious penalties for the recruitment of minors for gang activity, aggressive bail bond reform for violent offenses and enhancing school safety legislation.
Senator Larry Walker, III (R - Perry) will lead efforts in expanding telehealth services for rural and underserved communities while former-Senator Dean Burke will assist the Majority Caucus with extending benefits for income-eligible pregnant women.
National Guard Day at the Capitol
On Thursday, the Capitol honored the Georgia National Guard by inviting them to the Georgia Dome. The Georgia Department of Defense consists of 10,700 Army National Guard soldiers and is headquartered at the Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, Georgia.
The Georgia National Guard has deployed more than 30,000 soldiers and airmen throughout all geographic combatant commands since September 11, 2001 and have continuously supported disaster and emergency response missions within the state of Georgia.
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.