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Update from Under the Gold Dome: Week Seven

As our seventh week at the Capitol drew to a close last week, things are certainly getting more hectic. We are now three days away from Crossover Day, when all Senate-originating bills must pass through our chamber to be sent to the House of Representatives, and vice-versa. Committee meetings wrapped up earlier today, with discussion of legislation and testimony from citizens and experts, while our time in chamber this week will be dedicated to ensuring that all of the bills that leave our body are thoroughly analyzed and debated.

Last week, the Senate passed Senate Bill 15, the “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act.” After travelling around the state with my colleagues, and talking to the families of victims of school shootings, we found that the largest concerns regarding emergency preparedness are communication between schools and law enforcement officials and development of an effective emergency school safety plan. SB 15 provides 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. This bill would also require schools to conduct threat assessments every four years and practice an emergency drill annually. The most “modern” part of SB 15 is the requirement that schools utilize a statewide mobile application to report potential threats, which currently would be the “See Something, Send Something” app. I am grateful for my fellow senators’ support on this bill and look forward to its favorable consideration in the House of Representatives.

Another bill I sponsored, Senate Bill 120, or the “Georgia Tax Credit Business Case Act,” passed the Senate last week with unanimous and bipartisan support. This bill would require the state auditor to perform an economic analysis on certain income tax credit exemptions on a five year rotating basis. It is our responsibility in the General Assembly to increase transparency in government and to hold the state accountable as fiduciaries of state funds. I believe SB 120 will hold us accountable and I look forward to the House of Representatives passing this legislation as well.

Also last week, the Senate passed Senate Bill 158, the “Anti-Human Trafficking Protective Response Act.” SB 158 would increase the penalties for those found guilty of human trafficking and update the age at which a victim of sex trafficking is defined as a minor. Atlanta is a major hub of human trafficking activity and it is the responsibility of this body to ensure that our young people are protected from such horrific practices. I would like to commend both Sen. Brian Strickland and First Lady Marty Kemp for their hard work on this bill and for their efforts in fighting sex trafficking in Georgia.

As we approach Crossover Day on Thursday, I am hopeful that the Senate will hear the “Georgia Measuring Success Act,” Senate Bill 119, which would require any new legislation that relates to tax to be analyzed by its author and the state auditor. This rigorous analysis will work towards determining whether or not the legislation has a potential for return on investment and is good for Georgia. My goal with this bill is the same as SB 120, ensuring transparency and holding the General Assembly accountable for our fiscal duties.

Every time we gavel into session in the Senate chamber, we hear a devotional from the Chaplain of the Day. Last Thursday, the Senate heard from my pastor, Dr. Tom Davis. Dr. Davis serves as Senior Pastor at Roswell United Methodist Church and is credited with growing the congregation of Due West United Methodist Church from roughly 800 to 4700 members. He spoke to the Senate about the value of taking life slowly, rather than rushing to what lies ahead. I couldn’t agree with Dr. Davis more, especially when it comes to passing legislation, we must take our time and fight the urge to rush through the volume of work that lies ahead. I extend my sincerest gratitude to Dr. Davis for taking the time to visit the Gold Dome and for sharing his words with us.

We have now passed over 20 bills through the Senate, and there will be many more in the coming days. If you have any questions or concerns about any of these bills please do not hesitate to reach out to my office. It truly is an honor to represent the 56th Senate District, thank you for your continued trust in me.