The Senate Adjourns the 2015 Legislative Session

ATLANTA (April 6, 2015) | This week the state legislature completed Day 40 of the Legislative Session, a day also known as Sine Die. Sine Die is Latin for “without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing.” In other words, the General Assembly is not going to meet again to consider legislation until January 2016. There is plenty to do for the remainder of the year serving constituents, studying important issues, holding meetings and preparing for the next session.

This year, we passed the Fiscal Year 2016 General Budget on Tuesday, Day 39. The finalized version of the FY 2016 budget is set at $21.8 billion, which is built on an estimated 4.57 percent growth over the FY 2015 revenue estimates. The FY 2016 budget includes funding for insurance coverage for part-time school employees including school bus drivers and cafeteria workers, as well as including additional funding to public schools across our great state. Georgia continues to maintain a balanced budget with no deficit.

In addition to the budget, the General Assembly provided final passage to HB 170, the Transportation Funding Act of 2015, which will bring in an estimated $900 million in revenue to fund repairs and maintenance to our vast transportation infrastructure. Citizens and visitors of Georgia rely on our roads and bridges to get them safely to their destinations. The investment we are making in our road system now will ensure our children and their children have safe roadways to travel on in the future. I was disappointed this included a tax increase and was not funded with existing and future budget growth and ultimately voted against it. Georgia families and business and taxed enough. I will work with my colleagues to reduce this burden next year.

I was pleased to see the House passed SB 89, the Digital Classroom Act, and it will now go to Governor Deal to be signed. SB 89 encourages the transition from paper instructional materials to digital instructional materials. In the bill, school boards will be responsible for providing all laptops or tablets and all digital content to each student in their respective districts. This bill encourages all schools in Georgia to provide all instructional materials in a digital format by July 1, 2020.

Here are brief summaries of other bills passed in the Senate this week:

House Bill 401 updates several definitions in the code relating to temporary or part-time employees at a child care facility. The bill outlines the procedures for fingerprinting and background checks and allows the Department of Early Care and Learning to solicit and accept outside funds or grants. This piece of legislation is vital in protecting our children from potential criminals and sexual offenders.

House Bill 461 clarifies the documentation a secondary metal recycle company must maintain and receive in order to purchase secondary metals, like copper wire and coil. The transaction must include proof of registration and a signed statement that all documentation was present at the time of the sale.

I am humbled that you chose me to represent the 56th Senate District and although the 2015 legislative session has come to a close, my duties as your State Senator have not. I will be available to answer any questions or concerns you may have in the future. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time — my doors and phone lines are always open.