On Tuesday, April 2, we returned to Capitol Hill one last time for Legislative Day 40 before we adjourned Sine Die for the 2019 legislative session. Under the Gold Dome, Legislative Day 40 is our longest day of the year and is often referred to as “Sine Die,” which is a Latin term meaning “without assigning a day for further meeting.” We reconvened Tuesday morning and passed more than 80 pieces of legislation that will now go to Governor Brian Kemp’s desk for final approval. I have highlighted a few of the bills we passed this year below.
House Bill 481, the “Heartbeat Bill”, which would ban most abortions after a human heartbeat is detected. A human heartbeat is usually detected around 6 weeks gestation. I am proud that the House acted in a deliberate way to protect the unborn and passed the nation’s strongest pro-life protections. Working with Governor Kemp and the Senate, we will see to it that Georgia remains a state where each and every human life is treated with the dignity and respect it deserves.
We gave final passage to the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY 2020) budget, or House Bill 31, which set the final FY 2020 budget at an estimated $27.5 billion.
• More than 50 percent of the FY 2020 funds are allocated for education
• 22 percent for health and human services
• Eight percent for transportation and economic development
• Funding for the largest salary increase in our state’s history for teachers and certified personnel, which raises their base pay by $3,000.00 starting in July of this year.
Other highlights place an emphasis on women and children’s issues, such as program funding to address the high percentage of maternal mortality and additional funding for our most vulnerable Georgians, including the elderly and foster children.
I am proud to have sponsored HR 52 encouraging all schools, local educational agencies, and the state educational agency to recognize that dyslexia has a profound educational impact that must be addressed. Dyslexia is the most common learning disability, affecting approximately 85 percent of all individuals with a learning disability and approximately one in five individuals.
House Bill 543 would allow certain courts to classify an individual as an “equitable caregiver.” HB 543 outlines the qualifications of “equitable caregivers” which would include individuals who have “fully and completely undertaken a permanent, unequivocal, committed responsible parental role in a child’s life.” HB 543 would also provide the proper forms potential “equitable caregivers” would file to the court.
Throughout this legislative session, the House has supported various initiatives to improve safety in Georgia public schools. We passed SB 15 last week which would create the “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act.” SB 15 to improve school safety. SB 15 requires:
• Public schools to conduct, evaluate and implement a safety plan for a school to effectively respond to threats of violence, mass casualty incidents and other acts of terrorism, natural disasters and hazardous materials or radiological accidents before January 1, 2021
• Reevaluate their school safety plan every five years
• Submit safety plan to the Department of Education (DOE) after their local law enforcement agency has approved the plan
• DOE’s website would keep an updated list of schools that have submitted school safety plans, as well as a list of schools that have not met this requirement
• Designate a single individual, typically the school’s principal, as a school safety coordinator
• Designate an agent with the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center to track and share information that could help our schools develop strategies to combat threats of violence
• Require schools to use and promote a statewide mobile application, the “See Something Send Something” app, to anonymously report suspicious activity or potential threats
Georgia is proud to call itself a military-friendly state, and we approved a measure that would honor veterans living in Georgia. Senate Bill 103 would require airports owned or operated by a county, city, or other government entity to establish at least two priority parking spaces for veterans.
Since the 2019 legislative has come to an end, Gov. Kemp will begin reviewing legislation that received final passage in the House and Senate chambers. Gov. Kemp will now have the opportunity to sign or veto legislation over the next 40 days, and any legislation that has not been signed or vetoed will automatically become law. Now that the Georgia General Assembly has adjourned Sine Die for the 2019 legislative session, I will be spending more time back home in our district, where I look forward to continuing to serve you and your family.