Update from Under the Gold Dome: Sine Die

On Tuesday, April 2, 2019, the Georgia General Assembly adjourned Sine Die and completed the first session of the biennium. Overall, members of both chambers introduced over 1,000 bills and close to 1,400 resolutions. Of the introduced pieces of legislation, 104 Senate Bills and Resolutions received final passage and I am happy to say that 140 bills – including House measures – passed our body with bipartisan support. I am proud of all of the hard work and the numerous issues we addressed like expanding access to broadband, ensuring all of our school children are screened for dyslexia and protecting our voting system for the upcoming election, just to name a few.

During the 2019 session, I had two priorities which I am proud to say both received final passage. Frist, I wanted to address school safety which is important not only to me and my colleagues, but to all Georgians. During the 2018 interim, I had the privilege of chairing the School Safety Study Committee while traveling the state and hearing from experts, educators, teachers and students. After our meetings concluded, we realized that we must make schools safer but there is not a ‘one-size fits all’ solution that will protect Georgia’s most precious asset – our children. As a result of the findings, our committee created several recommendations which were drafted into Senate Bill 15, “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act,” which I introduced during the first week of session.

During the legislative process, both chambers made minor changes to the underlying purpose of the bill which is to provide a comprehensive outline for increasing school safety by streamlining communication efforts between schools, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center. One change made by the House is that when reasonable suspicion of violent criminal activity exists, reports should be made to any law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the school’s geographic location. Now that the bill has received final passage from the General Assembly, it must be signed into law by the Governor to be enforced.

This legislation brings us one step closer to ensuring that our students are safe from the moment they leave for school, to the moment they return home. With open communication between students, staff, our state agencies and law enforcement representatives, incidents can be reported immediately so a timely response can be made, and everyone will know how to respond calmly and appropriately if a threat or incident ever occurs.

Another priority of mine is to always ensure that your taxpayer dollars are utilized in the most efficient and fiscally responsible manner. This is why I sponsored Senate Bill 120, also known as the “Georgia Tax Credit Business Case Act,” which will require an economic analysis to be performed by the state auditor on any existing or proposed legislation that will have an impact on Georgia’s revenues, expenditures, economic activity or public benefit on a five year basis. Additionally, the chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the chair of the Senate Finance Committee can request up to three economic analyses to be completed by the state auditor on existing exemptions, exclusions, tax deductions or credits among other provisions regarding taxes. The final passage of SB 120 further emphasizes the priority I have pushed through my legislation this year: transparency in government and fiscal responsibility.

I look forward to the Governor signing both SBs 15 and 120 into law and seeing the positive impact they will have on all citizens of Georgia. As I have during the session, I will be providing you with updates during the interim on what passed during the 2019 session, what failed and issues we will be addressing ahead of the 2020 session. As always, it is an honor to serve as your Senator and representation under the Gold Dome. While our time in chamber is over, my office is always open and I am here to answer any questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you.