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Gold Dome Update: Week 6

This week, the Senate completed its busiest week to date, passing a total of 10 bills and holding multiple committee meetings to properly vet legislation before it receives a vote on the Senate floor. At this point in the session, legislators begin to feel a sense of urgency, as we are well aware of our 40 day deadline to complete our work. With this target in mind, we approached this week with the intention of maximizing each moment to better the lives of Georgians.

This week, I had the opportunity to present a few bills to committee that would address various aspects of public safety in Georgia. The first, Senate Bill 84, would add POST certified communications officers to the list of those eligible to participate in the Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund (POAB). These officers are more than just phone operators, they are quickly and efficiently assisting victims over the phone, walking them through the important steps to take during stressful or life-threatening situations. Dispatchers, like other first-responders, deserve to be able to participate in the POAB and receive the support they have earned. Due to the unique process of retirement legislation, we are currently only seeking to have SB 84 sent for actuarial study over the summer so that further action can be taken next year.

Outside of our committees, we were also kept busy with another full week of passing legislation. Of particular note was Senate Bill 87, or the Senator Jack Hill Veterans’ Act.” This bill, named for our former Senate colleague, would require state income tax return forms to provide taxpayers with the option of contributing to a qualified service disabled veterans organization. These contributions will greatly assist veterans who have served our country with distinction and is a most fitting namesake for one of our state’s most selfless legislators. In keeping the theme of helping out our veterans, we also passed Senate Bill 27, which would extend the time period in which a current or former member of the military is eligible to use their military certification to qualify for certain occupational licenses. This is a great bill that will allow those in military service, who frequently move across the country, to use the valuable certifications they earned while serving to benefit their communities.

We also passed legislation that will help our state recruit and retain educators. Senate Bill 88, a package of proposals supported by Governor Brian Kemp, would address several areas where the state can better support our teachers and grow the profession for future generations of prospective educators. Specifically, the bill would allow the Georgia Teacher of the Year to serve as an Ex-Officio member of the State Board of Education. This will allow our teachers to have a more direct input in how our state’s education curriculums are created. In addition, the bill would also allow military veterans who earned their teaching certification through untraditional means to be eligible to work at local school systems. These provisions, and more, would strengthen our state’s support of educators and retain them to continue instructing future generations of Georgians.

Next week, the Senate is scheduled to convene for five more legislative days. As our committee work continues to pick up, we can expect even more bills and resolutions to make their way through the Rules Committee and to the Senate floor for a vote. With nearly half the session already behind us, the clock is starting to tick on many of the important measures still before the General Assembly. If you have any questions about any bills up for consideration, 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