After a long and busy day on Friday, the Senate wrapped up its third week of the 2021 legislative session. This week, the Senate took an important first step in fulfilling our constitutional obligation of passing a balanced budget. The House, after holding a series of Appropriations Committee meetings, passed out their version of the Amended Fiscal Year 2021 Budget. Now, the budget has been sent over to the Senate, where our committees have already begun analyzing the proposal line by line.
The budget process is lengthy and provides lawmakers with numerous opportunities to examine the budgetary needs of our state departments and programs and evaluate which areas need more funding and where some funds can be reallocated. Thankfully, Georgia’s economy has remained resilient through the COVID-19 pandemic and we are now in a position where we can begin restoring funds to areas that experienced cuts during our last budget cycle. Our Appropriations Subcommittees convened for a long day on Friday to begin fine-tuning the bill that passed the House on Thursday. These hearings will continue on next week and, when the Appropriations Committee is satisfied with the final product, the budget will be heard in the Senate for a vote.
While discussions around the budget continued, I also had the opportunity to Chair my first meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Some of the most important bills of the session will likely come before our committee to be vetted and receive feedback from our members. This is an important task, but our committee contains combined decades of legal expertise, along with other subject matter experts in their fields. I am thoroughly looking forward to working with my committee members to ensure every bill that passes out of our committee.
Last Wednesday, Gov. Brian Kemp, along with First Lady of Georgia Marty Kemp, held a press conference to provide an update on the work of the GRACE Commission. The work of the commission is critically important, as they are tasked with combatting the vile practice of human trafficking in our state. While the GRACE Commission is tasked with bringing to justice those who exploit others for servitude, it is also compelled to bring much needed aid and assistance to the victims who have suffered under this heinous crime. For this years priorities, the Commission laid out three priorities: legislation allowing victims of human trafficking to legally change their names, creating a mechanism which would allow victims to sue anyone who knowingly benefitted from their trafficking, as well as requiring renewal applicants for Commercial Driver’s Licenses to participate in an anti-human trafficking course in order to receive their li- cense. As a legislator honored to have carried legislation emanating from the GRACE commission last year, I fully support their goals for the session and look forward to using my position on the Judiciary Committee to advance these bills.
This week, we will continue to hold Appropriations Subcommittee meetings in order to ensure this budget strikes the correct balance of fiscal responsibility, while still ensuring vital state services and agencies receive the funding they need to operate efficiently.
Senator Brian Strickland
District 17, Georgia Senate
TUESDAY, JANUARY 26
Senate Recognizes Pastor Alexander Ikomoni and Pastor Angela Ikomoni
Sen. Donzella James (D – Atlanta) sponsored Senate Resolution 9, recognizing Pastor Alexander Ikomoni and Pastor Angela Ikomoni on their 30th wedding anniversary and vow renewal. The couple currently serves as co-pastors at the White Dove Church of God and are founders of Back to the Cross 10 International, including a theology school and a chaplaincy academy. – SR 9
Senate Honors Life of Lola Mae Carmichael
Sen. Gail Davenport (D – Jonesboro) sponsored Senate Resolution 10, honoring the life and memory of Lola Mae Carmichael. Carmichael was a resident of Georgia, who dedicated much of her life to service as exemplified by her work with the Paradise Park Civic League and Sacred Heart Club. She was also named the 2018 Lay Person of the Year, the Women’s Missionary Queen from 1993-1994, and served on many ministries during her time with Mathalama A.M.E. Church. – SR 10
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 27
Senate Adopts Adjournment Resolution
House Resolution 31, carried by Sen. Mike Dugan (R – Carrollton), outlines legislative days six through 13 for the 2021 Legislative Session. The schedule is as follows: January 27th, legislative day 6; January 28th, legislative day 7; January 29th, legislative day 8; February 1st, legislative day 9; February 2nd, legislative day 10; February 3rd, legislative day 11; February 4th, legislative day 12; February 8th, legislative day 13. – HR 31
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Addresses the Senate
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms spoke to the Senate to welcome the newest members of the legislature, to acknowledge the passing of baseball legend and former player for the Atlanta Braves, Hank Aaron, and to give her well wishes to the Senate as they begin the 2021 Legislative Session.
Former President Pro Tempore Addresses the Senate
Tommie Williams, former Senate President Pro Tempore, was a guest in the Senate Chamber. Since leaving the Senate, he has been working with the World Food Program, helping feed over 820 million people around the world who are food insecure. Williams acknowledged that advancements in science and technology are helping the world with food insecurity.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 28
First Reading of the Amended Fiscal Year 2021
Budget House Bill 80, sponsored by Rep. Terry England (R – Auburn), was read on the Senate floor for the first time and assigned to the Senate Appropriations Committee. HB 80 is the budget for the Amended Fiscal Year 2021. – HB 80
Standing Committees Begin to Meet
Senate committees convened for the first time. This has allowed for the opportunity to welcome freshmen Senators, adopt their rules for the 2021-2022 Legislative Session, vote on bills and lis- ten to introductory remarks from various departments. A full list of the committee meetings scheduled each week can be viewed here: https://www.legis.ga.gov/schedule/senate
FRIDAY, JANUARY 29
Appropriations Subcommittee Meetings Begin
The Senate held its first subcommittee meetings of the Appropriations Committee, with Friday’s hearings including presentations for Human Development, Economic Development, Agriculture, Education and Higher Education, Community Health, Public Safety and Transportation.
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.