January 16, 2024

Week One of GA General Assembly

On Tuesday, January 16, beginning at 9 AM, Governor Kemp will present his budget personally to the Appropriations Committee in Room 341 of the Capitol.



Every year the Governor gives a State of the State address to the General Assembly and combines those comments with publication of his proposed state budget. On Tuesday, January 16, beginning at 9 AM, Governor Kemp will present his budget personally to the Appropriations Committee in Room 341 of the Capitol. Following the Governor, the State Economist will predict Georgia's revenues for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, as well as FY 2025, which begins July 1, 2024, and ends June 30, 2025. Budget hearings will continue all day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for all state agency budget proposals. You may watch all of the proceedings via livestream and follow the schedule at https://www.legis.ga.gov/.

The highlight of the Governor's budget proposal for me was his announcement of $205 million in new spending for behavioral health. The Georgia Behavioral Health Reform and Innovation Commission (BHRIC) made most of the recommendations for funds that the Governor allocated, including expanding crisis bed services and pay raises for essential mental health providers. You may view the final BHRIC 2023 report at https://opb.georgia.gov/ohsc/bhric, which includes the Workforce Subcommittee that I chair.

All State employees will receive a 4% salary increase, and law enforcement and child protection caseworkers will receive a minimum $3000 salary increase. At the Georgia Chamber Eggs and Issues Breakfast on Wednesday morning, the Governor outlined extensive infrastructure funding for sewers, roads, and other construction. In addition, the Governor has allotted funds for a new dental school at Georgia Southern and a new medical school at the University of Georgia. You may review a summary of the Governor's budget at https://opb.georgia.gov/budget-information/budget-documents/governors-budget-reports.

Governor Kemp styled his message in the most partisan way we have heard him speak in his five years of service: all of Washington, led by Democrats, is bad, and all of Georgia, led by Republicans, is good. This political messaging for one-half of Georgians is tiresome.

Below is a photo I took on Thursday of the camellias on my desk from my front-row legislative seat while the Governor gave his State of the State address.


It is routine for members of the General Assembly to recognize and honor constituents or local leaders who have died. I was struck that on Day One we recognized two young law-enforcement officers who died in the line of duty and another who was a cousin of a State Legislator. All three individual deaths occurred due to gun violence or car chases. The cousin of the legislator was killed by a bullet while working at his desk. The fact that these three deaths were recognized together caused me to regret yet again what little conversation we have at the Capitol about preventing gun violence deaths. Innocent people are killed, these deaths are preventable, and we respond with sadness, not action.


You voted in our last newsletter on this question:

Would you vote to repeal Certificate of Need (CON) in exchange for Medicaid expansion for 500k uninsured Georgians?

Yes - 88.6% (412 votes)

No - 11.4% (53 votes)

Learn more about CON: https://dch.georgia.gov/divisionsoffices/office-health-planning/certificate-need-con


There are two important discussions ongoing in public and private regarding options to expand Medicaid in Georgia. Georgia is one of nine states remaining that has forfeited somewhere in excess of $7 billion of federal healthcare money since the passage of Obamacare.

Secondly, there is a proposal to significantly increase reimbursement for Medicaid provider services. An increase in reimbursement rates is the number one recommendation of the Behavioral Health Subcommittee on Workforce and Systems Development that I chair.

If the Republican leadership does not intend to accept federal money for traditional Medicaid expansion on behalf of 500,000 uninsured Georgians, at least they can provide greater incentives for medical service providers to give care to those who are covered by Medicaid. The disaster that faces many rural Georgians that have no access to any healthcare remains a primary reality for our state.

After the budget hearings that are scheduled for January 16 through 19, our Session will begin again on Monday, January 22 with regular legislative days, committee meetings, and special legislative events. We now know our complete schedule, including our adjournment on Thursday, March 28 (Sine Die). Having a 40-day schedule gives us a much better opportunity to plan our work and take care of businesses and family needs.

Please join us in person at the Capitol or online for all our sessions, committee meetings, and legislative events. Your attention and oversight of these proceedings help us to do better work. You may watch all proceedings online at https://www.legis.ga.gov/.


I spoke with representatives from Emory University and Agnes Scott College at the Georgia Independent College Association (GICA) gathering at the Capitol on January 10th.

I enjoyed hearing and speaking with Rabbi Lydia Medwin from the Temple when she spoke on January 9th to the House of the General Assembly. Learn more about her work at https://www.the-temple.org/rabbi-medwin.

I am continually awed by the beauty of our State Capitol. You are always welcome to visit us during Session, and you may also observe House and Senate proceedings from the fourth floor galleries. Join us!


Sunday, January 14th - Sounds of Freedom: Honoring the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Concert at All Saints' Episcopal Church

Tuesday, January 16th - Voices for Georgia's Children panel

Tuesday, January 16th - Emory Legislative Alumni Dinner with President Fenves

Thursday, January 18th - Coalition of Refugee Service Agencies (CRSA) Maximizing Global Talent, Expanding Georgia's Healthcare Workforce

Thursday, January 18th DeKalb History Center Event honoring 150-year history of United Methodist Children's Home

Sunday, January 21st - Jesus on the Front Page, All Saints' Episcopal Church

Sunday, January 21st - Health Students Taking Action Together (H-STAT)

Tuesday, Jan 23rd - First Amendment Panel Gold Dome 2024 Panel

Tuesday, January 23rd - Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies event

Tuesday, January 23rd - State of the City address by Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett

Sunday, February 4th - Glenn Memorial Legislative Update with Senator Parent and Representative Evans

Tuesday, February 6th - EPIC Awards Dinner at Emory Law School

Thursday, February 8th - Carter Center Mental Health Parity Day luncheon

Thursday, February 8th - St. Olaf Choir concert, Emory Schwartz Center

Thursday, February 29th - Crossover Day at the Capitol

Thursday, March 28th - SINE DIE


You can search for and track bills, watch the House (or Senate) in Session, watch committee hearings, monitor legislation by committee, and find contact information —- all on the revamped General Assembly website. Here are quick links:

Make your views known and tell me what issues interest you the most.