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Gold Dome Update: Week 3

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.

This week, several committees held their first meetings of the year. The Senate Public Safety Committee, of which I serve as Chairman, held a productive discussion involving an update from the Georgia State Patrol and their efforts to keep the Capitol grounds, as well as the entire state of Georgia, safe. We are at a precarious point in history where appreciation for our law enforcement officers does not accurately reflect their bravery, leadership and dedication to the people of Georgia. I hope you will all join me in reaching out and thanking any man or woman in the public safety community and make sure they know how appreciative we are of their service.

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to present Senate Bill 6 to the Senate Finance Committee. This bill largely mirrors a similar proposal that failed to get across the finish line last year. This bill proposes that the Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance have the ability to request up to five economic analyses of a tax credit from the office of Planning and Budget. These analyses must contain information on the effectiveness of a tax credit including: the net change in state revenue, net change in state revenue, net change in economic activity, as well as other criteria. Georgia provides many tax credit programs, many of which contribute an economic return to our state. However, some of these tax credits don’t provide much of a benefit and those resources may be better allocated elsewhere. I am looking forward to once again working to increase transparency of our state’s tax credit programs and ensure tax dollars are allocated responsibly.

Earlier in the week, Gov. Brian Kemp provided a few updates on the excellent work being done by First Lady Marty Kemp’s Georgians for Refuge, Action, Compassion, and Education (GRACE) Commission. This commission is tasked with bringing an end to human trafficking in our state by rooting out the criminals involved in the practice and by providing support to all victims of this heinous act. A few of these updates include calling for additional legislation including allowing victims of human trafficking to legally change their names, creating a mechanism which allows 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 license. I stand in full support of these initiatives and I look forward to working on them in my capacity a Chairman of the Public Safety Committee.

The next major item the Senate is poised to take up is the amended 2021 Fiscal Year Budget. Over the last week, this bill was heard and debated by the House in detail and, on Thursday, received passage on to the Senate. In the coming days, the Senate will hold Appropriations Subcommittee meetings to provide our input to the AFY22 budget. We expect to get this budget out quickly and then begin our work on the General Budget for the 2022 Fiscal Year. As this process continues, I will be sure to keep you updated on the status of both budgets. If you have any questions about the budget, legislation, or about any other important work we’re addressing at the Capitol, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.

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Sen. John Albers serves as Chairman of the Public Safety Committee. He represents the 56th Senate District which includes portions of Cherokee and North Fulton counties. He may be reached at his office at 404.463.8055 or by email at john.albers@senate.ga.gov