This Week in the Senate — March 1-5 2021

March 11, 2021

After a week of alternating days between the chamber voting on legislation and carefully vetting legislation in committees, the Senate has set the stage for a busy but productive Crossover Day. In the days leading up to Crossover, we typically face aggressive legislation agendas to ensure that not a single priority is missed. This year was no different, as we passed more than 40 bills and resolutions.

However, our calendars to this point will pale compared to the length of that of Crossover Day, which we will see on Monday.

This week, I presented legislation that provides additional educational opportunities for adopted Georgians or those in foster care. These children, in many cases, have already been forced to face numerous obstacles and challenges in their young lives. Senate Bill 107, however, will eliminate a few of these barriers as they relate to achieving a college education. This bill would waive tuition and specific fees for qualified foster or adopted students who attend a school in the Technical College System of Georgia and allow the University System of Georgia to offer the same. There is no significant path for a successful future than with a college education. This measure will help ensure more students can take advantage of the prestigious higher education institutions our state has to offer.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every facet of state and local governments' daily life and operations. One area that was hit especially hard was our courts currently experiencing a backlog of jury trial cases. Senate Bill 163, another bill I sponsored, would authorize the chief judge of a judicial circuit or state court to suspend specific speedy trial requirements while the state is experiencing a judicial emergency. Without this bill, under our statutory speedy trial provisions, we have the potential to have cases where the courts are forced to try or dismiss cases based on gamesmanship versus orally trying cases based on how long they've been pending and when an individual may be incarcerated. This bill represents another step we are taking to ensure equitable and fair treatment of those in our court system.

This week, we also adopted our final adjournment resolution of the session. Cross- over Day will officially fall on Monday, March 8, and Sine Die (our last day of the session) will be March 31. If this week was any indication, we could expect to face long calendars of legislation to consider from here on out. While we have worked urgently to pass several priorities to this point, several vital bills remain. These include the budget for the 2022 Fiscal Year and additional election reform measures. While we may only have 13 days remaining, this is when the session often becomes the busiest. If you have any questions or concerns about any legislation we have taken up to this point, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.

Senator Brian Strickland

District 17, Georgia Senate


Ensuring Transparency in Prior Authorization

Act Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R – Marietta) sponsored Senate Bill 80, which would provide a framework for private review agents re- garding prior authorization, or the requirement that a physician obtain approval from healthcare providers before providing certain treatments. SB 80 would establish certain rules, regulation and standards that must be adhered to, including providing timelines. SB 80 passed with a vote of 50 to 0. – SB 80

Protecting Patients Seeking Emergency Medical Care

Sen. Michelle Au (D – Johns Creek) sponsored Senate Bill 82, which would adjust the “prudent layperson” standard in state law to require insurance companies to cover patients’ emergency medical care regardless of the final diagnosis. SB 82 passed with a vote of 50 to 1. – SB 82

Sending Annual Life Insurance Policy Statements to Policyholders and Beneficiaries

Sen. Marty Harbin (R – Tyrone) sponsored Senate Bill 112, which would require life insurance companies to provide an annual statement to policyholders and beneficiaries regarding the existence of the policy. The bill would also re- quire life insurers to obtain policy locator service reports from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ and submit reports to the Department of Insurance. SB 112 passed with a vote of 45 to 2. – SB 112

Enabling Citizens Under Supervision to Acquire Professional Licenses

Senate Bill 114, sponsored by Sen. Randy Robertson (R – Catau- la), would prohibit professional licensing boards from revoking or refusing to grant licenses to persons under supervision by a community supervision officer and convicted of a felony or crime involv- ing moral turpitude, as long as the individual was not convicted of crimes against the person or that require registration on the state sexual offender registry. SB 114 passed with a vote of 48 to 0. – SB 114

Erecting a Monument for the Honorable Zell Bryan Miller

Senate Bill 140, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga), would authorize the placement of a monument recognizing the Honorable Zell Bryan Miller, a former state Senator, U.S. Senator, Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Georgia, on state Capitol grounds. The monument would be designed, approved and placed by the Capitol Arts Standards Commission. SB 140 passed with a vote of 50 to 0. – SB 140

Requiring Electronic Signatures/Corporate Seals Be Accepted On Contract Surety Bonds

Sen. Larry Walker (R – Perry) sponsored Senate Bill 169, which would require public procurement officers to accept electronic signatures or electronic corporate marks on contract surety bonds for public contracting. SB 169 passed with a vote of 51 to 0. – SB 169

Eliminating Deference to DOR in Georgia Tax Appeals and Refunds

Senate Bill 185, sponsored by Sen. Bo Hatchett (R – Cornelia), would provide that all questions of property tax appeals and refunds may be determined by a Georgia court or the Georgia Tax Tribunal without deferring to the Department of Revenue for its interpretation of Georgia tax laws. SB 185 passed with a vote of 50 to 0. – SB 185

Amending the Anti-Mask Statue

Sen. Ben Watson (R – Savannah) sponsored Senate Bill 235, which would provide additional measures in Georgia’s anti-mask statute to clarify the wearer must intend to conceal his or her identity and that guilt requires reasonable foresight that injury would result. It would also provide an exception for individuals wearing masks in public when complying with mandated health guidelines. SB 235 passed with a vote of 49 to 0. – SB 235

Passing the 2021 Legislative Session Adjournment Resolution

House Resolution 264, carried by Sen. Mike Dugan (R – Carroll- ton), sets forth the remaining legislative days for the 2021 Legisla- tive Session. HR 264 sets Crossover Day for Monday, March 8, and Sine Die for Wednesday, March 31. HR 264 passed with a vote of 51 to 0. – HR 264


Excluding Discipline Data from School Climate Determinations

Senate Bill 42, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga), would prohibit discipline data from factoring into school climate determinations. However, schools would still be required to electronically publish information regarding student disciplinary action. SB 42 passed with a vote of 39 to 12. – SB 42

Expanding the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship

Senate Bill 47, sponsored by Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega) would expand eligibility for the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship program. to children who qualify under Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The bill would also create multiple provisions that would extend the exemption from attendance requirements, revise criteria for calculating scholarship amounts, and requires the State Board of Education to implement these new rules and regulations. SB 47 passed with a vote of 30 to 23. – SB 47

Updating Provisions for Charter Schools

Sen. John Albers (R – Roswell) sponsored Senate Bill 59, which would update multiple provisions relating to charter schools. This bill would provide additional Quality Basic Education funding and federal funding for charter schools, allow charter school employees to participate in a health insurance plan and require school boards to provide charter schools with facilities or stipends to fund facilities. SB 59 passed with a vote of 38 to 15. – SB 59

Creation of the Georgia Foundation for Public Education Nonprofit

Senate Bill 66, sponsored by Sen. Jason Avavitarte (R – Dallas), would call for the creation of a nonprofit corporation by the Georgia Foundation for Public Education in order to receive private donations to fund public schools. This bill would create the grant criteria and authorize an income tax credit for education donations. It would also end the Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation and its authority to receive private donations. SB 66 passed with a vote of 51 to 2. – SB 66

Establishing Teleconference Meeting Provisions

Sen. Frank Ginn (R – Danielsville) sponsored Senate Bill 95, which would allow the use of teleconference meetings by agencies with non-statewide jurisdiction during “emergency conditions.” The bill would require that participants and members of the public on teleconference meetings participate as though they are fully present. SB 95 passed with a vote of 49 to 0. – SB 95

Waiving Tuition and Fees for Foster Students

Senate Bill 107, sponsored by Sen. Brian Strickland (R – McDonough), would waive tuition and fees, including mandatory rooming and board fees, for qualifying foster and adopted students attending schools in the Technical College System of Georgia. It also encourages the University System of Georgia to adopt the same practice. SB 107 passed with a vote of 50 to 0. – SB 107

Requiring Life Insurance Policy Reviews

Sen. Marty Harbin (R – Tyrone) sponsored Senate Bill 113, which would require life insurance companies to annually review and maintain reports from the National Association of Insurance Com- missioners’ life insurance policy locator service. SB 113 would also require insurers to report those to the Department of Insurance, as well as any match reports. SB 113 passed with a vote of 50 to 2. – SB 113

Enhanced Penalties for Improper Sexual Contact

Senate Bill 117, sponsored by Sen. Butch Miller (R – Gainesville) would revise code relating to improper sexual con- tact by an employee or agent to offer more protection to minors and add an additional offenses related to misconduct by a person in a position of trust. It would also revise the definition of “dangerous sexual offense” and put these per- sons on the sex offender registry. SB 117 passed with a vote of 52 to 0. – SB 117

Allowing Business Shareholders’ Meetings to Occur Virtually

Sen. Larry Walker (R – Perry) sponsored Senate Bill 168, which would allow shareholders to hold meetings wholly or partially by remote communication. SB 168 passed with a vote of 51 to 0. – SB 168

Requiring Fence Detection Systems as Alarms

Senate Bill 182, sponsored by Sen. Randy Robertson (R – Cataula) would require all counties, governments and municipalities to treat fence detection systems as alarm systems capable of summoning law enforcement or the property owner, and mandates that they must always allow the installation of fence detection systems. SB 182 passed with a vote of 51 to 1. – SB 182

Revising Sheriff Candidate Qualifications

Sen. Randy Robertson (R – Cataula) sponsored Senate Bill 183, which would require all candidates for the office of the sheriff to be certified peace officers and in good standing with the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council. If candidates are not certified peace officers, they must complete the training within six months of taking office. SB 183 passed with a vote of 47 to 3. – SB 183

Revising HOPE Eligibility Requirements Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R – Marietta) sponsored Senate Bill 187, which would waive certain eligibility requirements for the HOPE scholarships for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities could apply to waive the time limits on a student’s eligibility to use the scholarship after graduating high school. SB 187 passed with a vote of 50 to 0. – SB 187

Defining Hemp Processing

Senate Bill 195, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga), would clarify the definition of processing hemp plants by excluding the traditional farming practices known as drying, shucking and bucking, storing, trimming and curing. SB 195 passed with a vote of 52 to 0. – SB 195

Creating High School Diploma Pilot Program Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R – Marietta) sponsored Senate Bill 204, which would allow the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia to award high school diplomas to students 16 years old or older through a pilot program. The students must have completed the necessary secondary school coursework requirements set forth by the college. SB 204 passed with a vote of 52 to 0. – SB 204

Establishing Pecan as the Official State Nut Sen. Carden Summers (R – Cordele) sponsored Senate Bill 222, which would recognize the pecan as the official state nut of Georgia. SB 222 passed with a vote of 51 to 0. – SB 222

Honoring Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton Senate Resolution 170, sponsored by Sen. Emanuel Jones (D – Decatur), honors the Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton on his retirement from over 30 years of work in state government. Chief Justice Melton dedicated his life to public service, serving as a volunteer for Young Life Ministry and on the board of Atlanta Youth Academies. He devoted his time and talent to the betterment of his state and community. – SR 170


Protecting Victims of Stalking

Sen. Kim Jackson (D – Stone Mountain) sponsored Senate Bill 75, which would allow victims of stalking to terminate a residential lease if the victim has provided the landlord with a written notice of termination and a civil or criminal stalking order has been issued. SB 75 passed with a vote of 48 to 0. – SB 75

Increasing Punishment for Distributing Explicit Photos and Videos Electronically

Senate Bill 78, sponsored by Sen. Harold Jones II (D – Augusta), would make it a felony to post or electronically distribute photos or videos that portray sexually explicit conduct or nudity of an adult in an attempt to harass or cause financial loss to the victim. SB 78 passed with a vote of 46 to 1. – SB 78

Regulating the Sale of Drug Store Products

Sen. Randy Robertson (R – Cataula), sponsored Senate Bill 92, which would regulate the sale of drug products that contain dextromethorphan. SB 92 would require a person wishing to purchase cough syrups containing dextromethorphan to show an ID proving they are 18 or older. SB 92 passed with a vote of 44 to 1. – SB 92

Sports Wagering Enabling Legislation

Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga) sponsored Senate Bill 142, which would establish the regulatory framework for wagering on sporting events, as long as a corresponding constitutional amendment is passed and adopted by voters through a referendum. SB 142 passed with a vote of 34 to 17. – SB 142

Enabling Packaged Liquor Sales

Senate Bill 145, sponsored by Sen. Matt Brass (R – Newnan), would enable a city, county or municipality to allow packaged liquor sales by lowering the threshold of registered and qualified voters required for a referendum petition from 35% to 20% or by placing it on a ballot through an ordinance. SB 145 passed with a vote of 35 to 12. – SB 145

Changing the Georgia Flag Pledge of Allegiance

Senate Bill 152, sponsored by Sen. Randy Robertson (R – Cataula), would add the word “courage” to the Pledge of Allegiance to the Georgia state flag. SB 152 passed with a vote of 30 to 14. – SB 152

Graduation Opportunities and Advanced Learning (GOAL)

Act Sen. Greg Dolezal (R – Cumming) sponsored Senate Bill 153, which would require state charter schools to transition to GOAL academies, which are charter schools that specialize in preventing students from dropping out of high school. SB 153 passed with a vote of 38 to 8. – SB 153

Allowing Emergency Suspension of Statutory Speedy Trial Requirements

Senate Bill 163, sponsored by Sen. Brian Strickland (R – McDonough), would allow the chief judge of a superior court judicial circuit or of a state court to suspend statutory speedy trial requirements during a judicial emergency in which trials cannot take place. SB 163 passed with a vote of 46 to 2. – SB 163

Designating Slow-Moving Vehicles

Senate Bill 165, sponsored by Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega), would allow slow-moving farming vehicles and trailers, as well as other low-speed vehicles, to choose to display either an amber strobe light or reflective triangle emblem for safety purposes. SB 165 passed with a vote of 48 to 0. – SB 165

Allowing Businesses and Religious Institutions to Remain Open in States of Emergency

Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R – Dallas) sponsored Senate Bill 200, which would allow businesses and religious institutions to continue operations in the event of a state of emergency if they follow mandated health and safety guidelines. SB 200 passed with a vote of 29 to 19. – SB 200

Digital License Plates

Sen. Randy Robertson (R – Cataula) sponsored Senate Bill 210, which would allow for the use of digital license plates on motor vehicles. The license plate must display a series of letters and numbers indicating the vehicle is registered with the state. SB 210 passed with a vote of 30 to 16. – SB 210

Revising Malt Beverage Sale

Senate Bill 219, sponsored by Sen. Frank Ginn (R – Danielsville), would allow brewers under common ownership to sell alcoholic products produced at other locations. The bill would also increase the maximum amount a brewer can sell from 3,000 barrels to 6,000 barrels annually. SB 219 passed with a vote of 42 to 1. – SB 219

The Georgia Civics Renewal Act

Sen. Chuck Payne (R – Dalton) sponsored Senate Bill 220, which would create the Georgia Commission on Civics Education to be composed of 15 members. The commission would craft curriculums to educate students on state and local government operations, and teach the importance of being a civically involved citizen. SB 220 passed with a vote of 45 to 4. – SB 220

Allowing Mixed Drinks for Consumption Off Premises

Senate Bill 236, sponsored by Sen. Matt Brass (R – Newnan), would allow food service establishments to sell mixed drinks for off-premises consumption. The mixed drinks must be served in sealed containers without straw holes and to people 21 years of age or older and cannot contain more than 3 oz of distilled spirits. The bill will not allow third-par- ty delivery services to deliver these beverages. SB 236 passed with a vote of 36 to 10. – SB 236

The Learning Pod Protection Act

Sen. Matt Brass (R – Newnan) sponsored Senate Bill 246, which would exempt learning pods from being regulated by state, local, or local school systems when virtual learning is an option. SB 246 passed with a vote of 29 to 16. – SB 246

Bringing Businesses to Rural Georgia

Senate Bill 255, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga), would authorize the OneGeorgia Authority to encourage developers to bring economic opportunities into rural areas of Georgia along the state’s border. The bill also proposes a series of grants known as the Border Region Tourism Development Program to incentivize applicants to start, relocate or expand businesses into Georgia SB 255 passed with a vote of 47 to 1. – SB 255

Dedicating Charlotte Nash Intersection

Senate Resolution 39, sponsored by Sen. Clint Dixon (R - Gwinnett) would dedicate the intersection at State Route 316 and Harbins Road in Gwinnett County as the Charlotte Nash Intersection. Nash was a dedicated public servant and served several position in Gwinnett County including finance director, county administrator and Chairwoman of the Gwinnett County Commission. SR 39 passed with a vote of 47 to 1. – SR 39

Creating a Joint Committee for Airports

Senate Resolution 84, sponsored by Sen. Tyler Harper (R – Ocilla), would create the Joint Committee on Airport Infrastructure and Improvements. This committee would study funding and policy development for airports with the goal of growing the industry. SR 84 passed with a vote of 41 to 8. – SR 84

Sports Wagering Constitutional Amendment

Senate Resolution 135, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga), would propose an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that, if approved by voters, would allow the Georgia General Assembly to legalize, define and provide for the regulation of sports wagering. The revenue created would be allocated to need-based education, rural health care services and deployment of broadband services to rural areas. SR 135 passed with a vote of 41 to 10. – SR 135

Creating an Honorary General Assembly Chaplain

Sen. Marty Harbin (R – Tyrone) sponsored Senate Resolution 143, which authorizes the Senate to appoint the state minister of the Capitol Commission as the honorary General Assembly chaplain. SR 143 passed with a vote of 39 to 2. – SR 143

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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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