FIVE DAYS REMAINING
Five legislative days remain in the 2023 Legislative Session. The Senate continues to work diligently towards Sine Die. As the tenth week of this legislative Session comes to a close, here are a few bills of note that received final passage in the Senate this week:
House Bill 147, carried by the Governor’s Administrative Floor Leader, Senator Mike Hodges (R – Brunswick), would provide a safety and anti-gang endorsement for eligible certificated professional personnel by the Professional Standards Commission. This bill would require school safety plan to be submitted to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency by December 31, 2023. Additionally, it requires that public schools participate and complete intruder drills by October 1, of each year and requires parents or guardians to opt their child out of such drills. HB 147 is an initiative from Gov. Kemp, as public safety is a top priority for the Governor and the Majority Caucus, and I am pleased it passed with bipartisan support.
Additionally, the Senate voted on House Bill 242, which reinstates “Joshua’s Law.” Originally passed during the 2005 General Assembly, “Joshua’s Law” requires all 16 year-olds applying for a Class D driver’s license must complete an approved driver education course and complete a total of 40 hours of supervised driving, six hours of which must be at night. HB 242 revises the penalties related to traffic violations under “Joshua’s Law” by adding an additional penalty equal to 3% of any original fine to be imposed in the case of any violation of the traffic laws in Georgia. The fees collected from such fines fund driver’s education, scholarships to first responders and children of military members who lost their lives in the line of duty or those under foster care in this state. This helps ensure we take care of students and ensure our roads are safe. HB 242 passed through the Senate on Wednesday and awaits Gov. Kemp’s signature.
On Tuesday I had the opportunity, alongside Senator Emanuel Jones (D – Decatur), to recognize Rusty Strong through Senate Resolution 220. Strawn is an extraordinary man with so many accomplishments. He has had a very distinguished golf career dating back to the 80s, and this past year at the age of 59, Strawn won the U.S. Senior Amateur and the Canada Senior Amateur Championships. Back home, we all know Rusty Strawn. Growing up in McDonough, Strawn took over his family’s insurance business and has grown it exponentially. He gives back to his community in so many ways, including work with the Boys Scouts, through the Flint River Council and through his church. It was an honor to recognize Strawn, as he is the epitome of a hardworking Georgian.
The next several weeks will undoubtedly by packed with floor hearings filled with healthy and riveting debate; 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
The Safe Schools Act
House Bill 147, carried by Senator Mike Hodges (R - Brunswick), would provide a safety and anti-gang endorsement for eligible certificated professional personnel by the Professional Standards Commission. This bill would require a school safety plan to be submitted to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency by December 31, 2023. Additionally, it would require that public schools participate in and complete intruder alert drills by October 1st of each year and allows for parents or guardians to opt their child out of such drills. HB 147 passed with a vote of 52 to 3.
Licenses for Frontline Worker Spouses
House Bill 155, carried by Senator John Albers (R - Roswell), would provide expedited licenses to spouses of firefighters, healthcare providers and law enforcement officers who relocate to Georgia. Additionally, HB 155 would establish needed qualifications and exceptions for these licenses. HB 155 passed with a vote of 54 to 0.
Protection of Archaeological Sites
House Bill 165, carried by Senator Jason Anavitarte (R - Dallas), would restore a Department of Natural Resources exemption that ensures sensitive archaeological sites will continue to be protected. HB 165 passed by a vote of 49 to 5.
Update to Controlled Substance List
House Bill 332, carried by Senator Ben Watson (R - Savannah), would add and remove a number of drugs and substances on the state's drug schedule. HB 332 represents the annual update to the state's drug schedule in reference to the controlled substance list for Schedule I, IV and V drugs. HB 332 passed with a vote of 54 to 0.
One Time Tax Credit Act
House Bill 162, carried by Mike Hodges (R - Brunswick), would provide a one-time tax credit for individual taxpayers who filed income tax returns for 2021 and 2022. A single taxpayer or a married taxpayer filing a separate return would receive $250, a head of household would receive $375 and a married couple filing a joint return would receive $500 in the one-time payment. HB 162 passed with a vote of 46 to 7.
Emergency Management Director Disaster Assessment
House Bill 311, carried by Senator Matt Brass (R - Newnan), would provide optional temporary tax relief for certain properties located in nationally declared federal disaster areas that have been destroyed or severely damaged as a result of a disaster. HB 311 would also require that each local emergency management director must establish and maintain rules for these purposes. HB 311 passed with a vote of 53 to 0.
Establishing or Relocating Quality Jobs Revisions
House Bill 482, carried by Senator John Albers (R - Brunswick), would revise the definition of "taxpayer" for income tax credit in the establishment or relocation of quality jobs. Currently, a taxpayer is defined as any person required by law to file a return or pay taxes. HB 482 would expand that definition to provide that organizations exempt from tax must be defined as taxpayers only when receiving unrelated business income. HB 482 passed with a vote of 52 to 0.
Biomarker Testing Covered Under Benefit Policies
House Bill 85, carried by Kay Kirkpatrick (R - Marietta), would require biomarker testing to be covered under health benefit policies if there is a proven medical and scientific need. A biomarker test can be defined as the analysis of a patient's tissue, blood or other bio-specimen. HB 85 passed with a vote of 47 to 5.
Edna Mae McGovern Act
House Bill 402, carried by Shawn Still (R - Norcross), would require public schools and local school systems to annually provide aquatic safety information to parents, guardians, and students. The information must be able to be distributed via hard copy or online and must include courses and swimming lessons that result in certification upon completion. Additionally, courses and lessons must be offered for free or at a reduced price. HB 402 passed by substitute with a vote of 49 to 6.
Revisions to "Joshua's Law"
House Bill 242, carried by Senator John Albers (R - Roswell), would add an additional penalty for violation of traffic laws or ordinances under "Joshua's Law." Specifically, HB 242 would require an additional penalty equal to 3% of any original fine to be imposed in the case of any violation of the traffic laws in Georgia. HB 242 passed by substitute with a vote of 43 to 8.
Fourth Judge for the Dougherty Judicial Circuit
House Bill 77, carried by Senator Freddie Powell-Sims (D - Dawson), would provide a fourth judge to the superior courts of the Dougherty Judicial Circuit. Additionally, HB 77 would address the compensation, salary, allowance and powers of the new judge. Furthermore, this bill would divide and allocate the work and duties of said judge as well as provide an additional reporter for the circuit. HB 77 passed by floor amendment with a vote of 50 to 0.
Establishment of United Campus Police Force
House Bill 142, carried by Senator Chuck Payne (R - Dalton), would establish a unified campus police force through agreements signed by colleges and universities. A unified campus police force can be defined as a contract entered into by two or more colleges or universities for the purpose of sharing campus policemen and related resources. HB 142 passed by floor amendment with a vote of 52 to 0.
Authorize Public and Private Schools to Stock Undesignated Ready-To-Use Glucagon
House Bill 440, carried by Senator Matt Brass (R - Norcross), would allow authorized medical professionals to prescribe, and pharmacists to dispense, undesignated ready-to-use glucagon. In addition, HB 440 would also allow a school nurse or trained diabetes personnel to possess and administer glucagon under appropriate circumstances established pursuant to a student's diabetes medical management plan; an d authorize public and private schools to acquire and stock a supply of glucagon. HB 440 passed with a vote of 56 to 0.
Ratifying Gov. Kemp's Fuel and Diesel Tax Suspension
House Resolution 66, carried by Senator Mike Hodges (R - Brunswick), would ratify Governor Kemp's executive order that suspended the collection of motor fuel and diesel fuel taxes. HR 66 passed by substitute with a vote of 53 to 0.
Court Reporter Budgetary Allowances
House Bill 176, carried by Senator Bo Hatchett (R - Cornelia), would increase the amount of court reporters' monthly contingent expenses and travel allowance. This legislation aims to further align the budgetary appropriations with the needs of court reporters across the state. HB 176 passed with a vote of 54 to 0.
Establishing Grant Programs Under the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council
House Bill 268, carried by Senator John Albers (R - Roswell), would establish a grant program to support local law enforcement agencies and multi-jurisdictional task force relative to motor vehicle-related crime prevention initiatives. HB 268 passed by substitute with a vote of 45 to 5.
Child's Right to an Attorney in Legitimation Proceedings
House Bill 460, carried by Senator Matt Brass (R - Newnan), would provide a child's right to legal representation in legitimation cases. HB 460 passed with a vote of 52 to 0.
Revisions to Regulations Regarding Contact Lenses
House Bill 203, carried by Senator Matt Brass (R - Newnan), would revise provisions related to restrictions on the sale and dispensing of contact lenses with respect to physicians. Specifically, it would allow people to renew prescriptions for contact lenses via telemedicine if they have had an eye exam in person within the last 24 months and are between 21 and 50 years of age. However, no person in Georgia shall write an initial prescription for contact lenses until they have completed all necessary exams to determine that the patient is a viable candidate to wear contact lenses. HB 203 passed with a vote of 51 to 1.
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.