This Week in the Senate — January 30-February 3, 2023

February 9, 2023


We have now officially completed the first quarter of the legislative session, after adjourning Legislative Day 11 on Thursday. While most sessions typically get off to a slow start, we have wasted no time getting down to work and beginning the process of vetting legislation in our committees and considering our first bill on the Senate floor.

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee, which I serve as Chairman, held its first meeting of the session. After introducing our new and returning committee members and adopting our rules for the session, we considered two pieces of legislation. The first, Senate Bill 5, would add an additional judge for the superior court of the Augusta Circuit in order to meet a unique need following a split of the circuit and rising crime concerns in the area. The second measure we considered Senate Resolution 32, relates to liability concerns for public safety officials in our states border communities. Currently, if a Georgia law enforcement officer crosses into a neighboring state, such as Alabama, in order to render aide, they are not protected from liability. This resolution would encourage Georgia’s Attorney General to negotiate with the state of Alabama to implement a reciprocal liability protection agreement. In the coming weeks, I only expect our committee’s workload to increase as more and more bills are assigned to our committee for consideration.

On Wednesday, the Senate took action on its first bill of the session on the Senate floor. Senate Bill 11, sponsored by Sen. John Albers (R – Roswell), addresses an alarming trend not just in Georgia, but across the country. Over the past few years, small factions of individuals have exploited national tragedies as a rationale to cause damage, destruction and violence to businessowners, innocent bystanders, and members of law enforcement. Senate Bill 11 allows the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to, either independently or in conjunction with other aw enforcement agencies, to investigate and prosecute individuals who carry out domestic, cyber, nuclear, or other forms of terrorism. This measure will ensure that those who are peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights are protected, while those who choose to break the law are able to be penalized to the furthest extent of the law.

The House of Representatives, meanwhile, has also been busy. This week, House Bill 18, representing the Amended Budget for the 2023 Fiscal Year, passed the House Committee on Appropriations. This budget is a modification of the original FY23 budget the General Assembly passed last year and also includes a number of Gov. Brian Kemp’s new budgetary initiatives. Of note, it includes $1 billion to be used towards property tax refunds for qualified Georgia property owners, as well as substantial additions for school safety and enhancements for shelters for victims of domestic violence. The next step for House Bill 18 will be a vote before the full House, before it crosses over to the Senate for consideration.

Now that the calendar has turned to February, we are beginning to feel the momentum pick up in the General Assembly. The next several weeks will undoubtably by 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

"Georgia Fights Terrorism Act"
Senate Bill 11, sponsored by Senator Albers (R - Roswell), allows for concurrent jurisdiction by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) in cases involving domestic, cyber, biological, chemical and nuclear terrorism.  This would allow the GBI to investigate allegations of domestic terrorism both independently or collaboratively with other law enforcement agencies. SB 11 passed with a vote of 49 to 3.

Negotiations with the State of Alabama
Senate Resolution 32, sponsored by Sen. Ed Harbison (D - Columbus) would urge the Attorney General to negotiate with the State of Alabama in regards to granting immunity to officials carrying out duties in the territorial limits of the other state. SR 32 was adopted with a vote of 52 to 0.  

Across the Hall
House Bill 18, otherwise known as the Amended Budget for the 2023 Fiscal Year (AFY23), out of the House this week. This budget total about $36 billion and, specifically, includes several of Gov. Brian Kemp’s budgetary priorities. Notably, it includes $1 billion to reimburse Georgia’s property owners for property taxes, as well as $28 million for school safety improvements. Now that the budget has cleared its first hurdle in the House, it will now be sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee, and its affiliated subcommittees, to further analyze the intricacies of the budget. HB 18 passed by substitute with a vote of 170 to 1.

On Tuesday, the State Capitol celebrated Kia Day, an event to celebrate the car company's economic success in Georgia. Senator Randy Robertson (R - Cataula) introduced Kia's leadership on the Senate floor, which included Stuart Countess, the president and CEO of Kia Georgia. Sen. Robertson proudly shared past successes of the Kia plant located in his district, calling Kia "part of the DNA of West Georgia." The plant produces more than 1,400 cars per day and expects to pass the four million mark by April of this year. Sen. Robertson commends the company for the countless jobs they have created in West Point and looks forward to their future success.

49th Anniversary of the Consulate-General of Japan in Atlanta
On Legislative Day 11, Senator Kay Kirkpatrick (R - Marietta) sponsored SR16, a resolution recognizing the 49th Anniversary of the Consulate-General of Japan in Atlanta. For almost half a century the Japanese consulate has strengthened the cultural, political and economic ties between the South East and Japan. Between Georgia and Japan alone, current trade is nearly $8 billion in imports and exports. Consul General Maeda spoke about shared visions of a peaceful and prosperous world guided by shared values. Sen. Kirkpatrick and Consul General Maeda shared their pride in the prosperous friendship between Georgia and Japan as it continues to grow.

On Thursday, in spirit of Black History Month, Senator Michael 'Doc' Rhett (D - Marietta) used his point of personal privilege to uplift Senator Gloria Butler (D - Stone Mountain) and her 19 years of service in the Senate. Sen. Butler is the highest ranking female in the Georgia Senate and has held leadership positions every year she has been in office.

Wear Red For Heart Disease
Wear Red Day takes place on February 3, of each year but  was observed by the Senate on February 2. People wear red to show their support and spread awareness of heart disease. Senator Valencia Seay (D - Riverdale) spoke to the Chamber on the importance of heart disease awareness as she is a heart attack survivor.

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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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