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Gold Dome Update: Week 7

Week seven under the Gold Dome brought us five legislative days in which we passed numerous bills and held several committee meetings. As we inch closer to Crossover Day, our days here in the Capitol have stretched longer, but are nonetheless crucial to passing comprehensive bills. As always, I am dedicated to supporting the legislation that benefits my constituents in this great state of Georgia.

This week, I had the opportunity to present Senate Bill 85, or the “Max Gruver Act.” SB 85 is named after a Georgia resident who tragically lost his life in a hazing related incident at an out of state school. SB 85 works to eliminate harmful hazing at Georgia colleges and universities by making it a felony to haze minors, with a fine up to $50,000. The bill would also require colleges and universities to provide public reports of hazing violations to ensure parents, students and communities are fully informed and provides support for those who act in a timely manner to render aide to someone injured in a hazing incident. College organizations, like our fraternities and sororities, often produce some of our highest academically achieving students and contribute to their communities through a wealth of service opportunities. Those organizations playing by the rules deserve to be celebrated and recognized for that success. However, when they engage in harmful hazing practices, urgent action must be taken to guarantee the safety of all students.

Georgia has long been known to be a leader in criminal justice reform. Over the past few years, the General Assembly has worked to provide a second chance for nonviolent offenders and ensure that we actually achieve the goal of reducing recidivism. To further advance this effort, the Senate Passed SB 105 which would allow certain offenders to be removed from probation early, as long they have served as least three years on probation, are current on all fines, and have not been convicted of a new major crime. I am proud to see this measure pass the Senate to further cement Georgia’s status as a leader in criminal justice reform.

Aside from criminal justice reform efforts, the Senate took up another issue we have made significant progress on in recent years: enhancing our foster care system. Senate Bill 28 would increase the annual training hours for juvenile court intake officers, allow heresy to be considered in certain juvenile court hearings, and would include emotional abuse to existing child abuse provisions. These changes will strengthen our foster care system and provide our foster children with additional protections to better ensure their safety.

Crossover Day, the deadline for the Senate Bills to pass Senate and House Bills to pass the House, will fall on Monday, March 8. With roughly a week to go before this deadline is reached, multiple committee meetings will be held and our days in the Senate Chamber will grow even longer to ensure that every necessary piece of legislation has the opportunity to become law this year. If you have any questions, comments or concerns with any of the legislation that is pending before the General Assembly, please contact my office. It is a pleasure to serve you.

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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