2019 session reaches halfway mark

Published 4:22 pm Tuesday, February 26, 2019


The end of this week brings us to the halfway mark for the 2019 session. Today, we completed Legisla-tive Day 20, ending a week filled with committee meetings and several votes in the Senate Chamber. We also made progress on our only constitutional-ly required duty, passing a balanced budget, with the passage of the Amended Fiscal Year 2019 Budget. Included in the budget are 20 million additional dollars for agricultural losses and $2 million to assist rural hospitals for disaster related costs.

The Senate once again stood in solidari-ty, unanimously passing Senate Bill 48 which addresses the development of pol-icies for identifying dyslexia in Georgia’s students by the State Board of Education. Under SB 48, all kindergarten students would be screened for dyslexia and a refer-ral system would be put into place for first, second and third graders who display characteristics of dyslexia. This legislation is critical for our children’s education and their future.

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Funding Repairs and Updates for Educational Facilities after Natural Disasters

I sponsored Senate Bill 67, that would allow school systems with buildings that are at least 20 years old and have been mostly destroyed by natural disaster or fire to receive regular funding to repair or replace damaged buildings. The bill also creates a pathway for schools to qualify for certain grants if the school system’s five-year revenue from SPLOST does not generate enough funds for the required updates or repairs. SB 67 passed with a vote of 41 to 0.

Chief Justice Melton Gives the State of the Judiciary Address

Senators joined their colleagues in the House for a joint ses-sion to hear the State of the Judiciary Address. Chief Justice Harold D. Melton of the Georgia Supreme Court gave his first ever address in which he characterized 2019 as a “year of new beginnings,” and described the state of the judiciary as “sturdy, stable and strong.”

Changing Employee Retirement System Annuity Provisions

Senate Bill 55 would allow Employee Retirement System (ERS) members to purchase Supplemental Guaranteed Lifetime Income (SGLI) annuities using their 401(k) or 457(b) funds.

U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop Visits Senate

Congressman Sanford Bishop (GA – 2) visited the Senate on Wednesday, where he credited his time as a state Senator for providing him with many lessons that he still employs today. He commended the Hurricane Michael recovery efforts, but called for continued relief for the impacted farms and rural commu-nities. Congressman Bishop reiterated his focus on Georgia’s needs as he continues his duties at the United States Capitol.

C.J.’s Law Passes the Senate

Senate Bill 1, or “C.J.’s Law,” would provide a felony penalty for drivers involved in a hit-and-run accident that causes serious bodily harm. The felony charge would constitute imprisonment for a minimum of one year and maximum of 10 years.

Providing Immunity to Those who Rescue Animals from Locked Cars

Senate Bill 3 would add a provision to protect a person from civil penalties if they cause property damages while attempting to rescue an incapacitated or endangered animal in a locked vehicle. The bill would also protect the person from sustaining civil penalties if they fail to provide or arrange for the animal’s further medical treatment.

Providing a New Pathway to Become an Organ Donor

Senate Bill 99 would allow those applying for a hunting, fishing or trapping license to also have the option to register to become an organ donor.