Over the past 18 months, I have drilled down on analyzing and understanding the impact of development authorities. This work resulted in the passage Tuesday of HB 923. I feel good about this effort to bring greater transparency and accountability to development authorities. HB 923 adds two provisions to the existing law:
For another day--- I had proposed a change to the law governing bond validation hearings to specify that school systems and governmental entities have the right to intervene in bond validation hearings (upon proof the bond issuance will have an impact on them). While the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia and the Georgia Municipal Association supported this provision, the Governmental Affairs Committee had more questions, and Chair Darlene Taylor asked that I withdraw that provision for another time. This happens in legislation all the time, and compromises are painful. We will see what happens in the Senate--can I add this provision back when they take it up?
Watch my short presentation of HB 923 on the House floor below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YP-YSVlphgw
We have been busy with other bills, so I want to call your attention to some important ones:
Governor Kemp has signed the midyear (“little”) budget, which takes us through June 30, 2022.
The House also passed the FY 2023 budget, our only constitutional duty. It is in the Senate for review and approval before finalizing.
HB 1464 Passed. The bill gives the GBI the right to initiate investigations of potential voter fraud, rather than waiting to be invited by the Secretary of State; gives the public the right to inspect paper ballots after the election; and prevents local election boards from receiving funding from private sources. I voted NO but the bill passed on partisan lines 98 to 73.
There is a raft of bills designed by Republicans to send partisan messages to voters in an election year.
Most are in the Senate, and even if they don’t progress, they dampen civil rights or needlessly create controversy.
SB 613 Stalled in Senate. This is Georgia’s version of Florida’s “Don't Say Gay” bill to prevent private schools and programs from discussing or promoting discussions of sexual identity or gender in primary grades or in a manner inappropriate for the age and developmental stage of the student. This bad bill is stalled in the Senate, and I will vote NO if it comes to the House.
SB 435 Passed Senate. This is another terrible bill targeting children by banning transgender boys and girls from competing in school sports teams matching their gender identity. The Senate passed this bill, and I will vote NO when it comes to the House.
Similar to bills that hurt and harm, these are election-year messaging bills that will have a chilling effect on teachers (who are already stressed and in short supply).
HB 1084 and SB 377 Passed both. These are the so-called “CRT” bills that would ban teachers from teaching certain concepts (such as that there is systemic racism in the United States) that the promoters see as “divisive.” The House passed 1084 on partisan lines 92 to 63, and I voted NO.
HB 1178 and SB 449 Passed both. These purport to give parents rights that they mostly already have as to the upbringing and management of their children in schools. I voted NO on the House bill, which passed on partisan lines 98 to 68.
HB 1283 Passed. A positive bill, requiring recess for kindergarten and grades 1 through 5. I was happy to vote YES.
HB 1435 Passed. Adds to the list of eligible students for needs-based financial aid those who have a financial aid gap. I voted YES.
HB 1425 Passed. This bill on medical marijuana generated extended floor debate on Crossover Day. In 2019, we passed a law to create licenses for distributors of medical marijuana prescriptions. The state failed to do its job—no licenses have been issued to date. This is a prime example of the state failing to deliver on promised services, and 1425 is designed to correct the problem. The bill finally passed with little opposition, and I voted YES.
HB 937 Passed. This is the first bill brought by Rep. Sharon Henderson and arises from her experience with breast cancer. The bill requires insurers to give annual notice to all women age 40 and up to obtain mammograms. I voted YES.
HB 1358 and SB 319 Passed both. The House bill would allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a prior background check and license. The House version applies to any person who has a license or would be eligible for a license, including residents of other states who are licensed or eligible in their states. I voted NO on a partisan line vote in which the law passed 94 to 57.
SB 456 Passed. Another bill restricting the rights of women by controlling their access to birth control measures, in this case the so-called “abortion pill.” I will vote NO when this bill comes to the House.
HB 1289 Stuck. This important bill would protect the Okefenokee from damage by surface mining in
an area known as Trail Ridge adjacent to the Okefenokee Swamp between the St. Mary's and Satilla Rivers. House Natural Resources Committee Chair Lynne Smith refuses to give it a hearing. I am a co-sponsor and advocate for the protection of this natural resource.
HB 1083 Stuck. I support this bill that would remove the cap on monthly net metering and require utilities to compensate energy producers like homeowners, small businesses, and schools which utilize solar panels. It remains stuck in the Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications Committee.
HB 1450 In Committee. This bill would provide protections for dogs kept outdoors, including adequate food, shelter, water, and movement. I am a co-sponsor. It is stuck in the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, opposed by hunting dog owners.
HB 1147 Passed. I voted against this bill, which will authorize year round hunting and trapping of racoon and possum, but it passed 141 to 17.
HB 1376 Stuck. This one has not come to the floor yet but would allow restaurants with outdoor dining to serve patrons’ pet dogs in designated areas under certain conditions without violating public health laws.
HB 824 Passed. This bill would increase the retirement allowance for members of the General Assembly. No taxpayer money funds this retirement plan. I voted YES.
HR 842 Passed. This proposes that voters decide on a Constitutional amendment that would establish the pay of state senators and representatives to no more than 60% of median household income in Georgia. Based on current numbers, our salaries would more than double at this time from $17,000 to $36,000. I voted NO on this pay raise, but the bill passed 136 to 33.
HB 1390 Passed. This bill grants a right of action to those who allege a city or county government retaliated against them in response to a complaint of sex discrimination. I voted YES.
HB 1461 Passed. This bill arose from the Study Committee on Annexation on which I served. Most of the things I have advocated to smooth and bring transparency to the annexation arbitration process are in the bill, including prior notice to school systems of pending annexation arbitrations. I voted YES.
HB 923 Passed. My bill on development authorities (see above).
SB 601 School vouchers of $6000 to parents who withdraw children from public schools for private schools.
SB 212 and SR 131 Horseracing— up to 5 tracks and betting anywhere in state.
SB 535 Homelessness — making camping on public property a misdemeanor and withholding funding from cities that fail to enforce this law.
To look up any of these bills, go HERE and enter the bill number preceded by SB for Senate and HB for House into the box at the top to "Search Legislation."