This was an eventful week full of twists, turns, and surprises. Next week promises to be full of the same. More and more legislation made its way to the House floor this week, including the Amended Fiscal Year 2022 budget.
The debates in committees and on the House floor are ramping up and will only get more intense as Session continues.
Huge win (at least for now) against the creation of the “City of Buckhead!” Read on for more of the latest.
Thanks to those that attended the Town Hall
On Thursday, we held the Virtual Town Hall where Senator Sonya Halpern (SD39) and I discussed a range of topics that are impacting our district and our state. I want to thank all those who came and participated! We discussed hot-button legislation regarding the local redistricting, guns, book bans, the city of Buckhead, attacks on the transgender community, and attacks on access to abortion pills by mail. We also discussed some bright spots in legislation such as the progress for mental health in Georgia and the pay raises for state employees and additional funds for education in the budget.
Please stay tuned for the next Town Hall to stay updated on the 2022 Legislative Session.
The “City of Buckhead” avoided for now
A couple of weeks ago, I spoke about legislation that would establish Buckhead as its own city by de-annexing from the city of Atlanta. On Friday, the disastrous bill to introduce the “city of Buckhead” was declared stalled for the session. I am grateful that Republican leadership in the House and Senate are allowing Mayor Dickens time to make progress in Atlanta before rushing to install shortsighted and disastrous “solutions,” which are anything but.
You can read more from the AJC here.
On Friday, the House voted to amend the state budget for the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2022. I voted yes. Below are some highlights from the amended 2022 budget, House Bill 910:
Increase funds to offset the austerity reduction for K-12 education.
Georgia’s K-12 education system is the largest budget expenditure and totals $11.16 billion, or 43.3 percent of the general funds in the state budget. This amended budget restores $383 million that is needed to fully fund our K-12 education system using the Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula.
Increase funds to meet the projected need for HOPE Scholarships and Grants to fund to cover at least 90% of tuition.
Provide funds for major repair and renovation for public libraries.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant.
Provide funds for the Georgia Crime Victims Emergency Fund.
Provides $4.6 million in new funds to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council for the Georgia Crime Victims Emergency Fund to help offset lower than normal probation fee collections, as well as $1.8 million in unallocated training funds, totaling $6.5 million in increased funding for this important initiative.
Increase funds to address the state funds shortfall for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) per the state match requirement in the Ryan White Care Act Title II Award.
Department of Revenue
Utilize $1,600,000,000 in prior year undesignated state funds surplus to provide a one-time additional refund for tax year 2021 of $250 for single filers, $375 for head of household filers, and $500 for married filing jointly.
Increase funds to recognize additional revenue from HB 105 (2020 Session) for Transit purposes.
State Pay Increase
Additionally, the amended budget provides a $5,000 pay increase to all full-time, benefit eligible state employees.
Other Votes this Week
HB 412 would establish a five-member Behavior Analyst Licensing Board, which would provide licensure for individuals in the practice of applied behavioral analysis. This area of practice is not currently regulated. The bill aims to prevent unqualified persons from practicing applied behavior analysis. I voted yes.
HB 430 would revise the definition of “advanced nursing practice” to include clinical nurse specialists and contains the educational or certification requirements, amend the definition of “advanced practice registered nurse” (APRN) to include several nursing specialties, provide eligibility requirements for licensing of APRNs and renewal requirements for licenses.
The bill creates a licensing procedure for advanced practice registered nurses. The bill grants authority to advanced practice registered nurses and licensed physician assistants to authorize disabled parking tags. The bill establishes a misdemeanor offense for practicing as an advanced practice registered nurse without a license. I voted yes.
New Legislation I’ve Sponsored
HR 707 is a resolution I have co-sponsored that creates the House Study Committee on Homicide Cold Case Resources. This bill aims to ensure all families and communities see persistent and efficient attention given to their cases. This bill comes about because of the hard work and tragedy that struck many families in our state, including the family of Tara Baker, a classmate of mine at UGA Law School who was murdered during our first year. The murder remains unsolved 22 years later.
HB 1274 is a bill I have co-sponsored that attempts to address antisemitism by defining it, adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition.
As you know, this year is a big election year—we will vote on a U.S. Senate seat, all statewide offices, legislative seats, and many local races. Make sure you know all the relevant deadlines to cast your vote—whether in person or absentee.
Join the Atlanta North Georgia Labor Council for a job fair!
Pre-register at: bit.ly/februaryjobfair
Nominate an Energy Champion
Strategy Blue in partnership with Commissioner Tim G. Echols is hosting the 2022 Inaugural Energy Matters Awards! I would like to recognize the accomplishments of energy and sustainability in Georgia. I will be nominating constituents to Commissioner Tim Echols, who will reach out to finish the application. The award categories are
- Best sustainability project by a city
- Best sustainability project by small company (under 50 employees)
- Best sustainability project by large company
- Best sustainability project by faith community
- Best sustainability project by transportation related company
- Best sustainability project by manufacturing company
- Best sustainability project by hospitality industry
- Best sustainability project by educational institution
- EV implementation award for large company
- EV implementation award for small company
- EV implementation award for institutions
- EV autonomous award
- Best municipal energy efficiency award
- Best institutional energy efficiency award
- CNG implementation award
- Best fleet transition award
- Best recycling/reuse award
If you or someone you know qualifies please reach out to me at [email protected] and I will pass forward your nomination. Nominations will be submitted through March 31st.
You can now request free at-home COVID-19 tests here. You can order four at-home tests per household that will be delivered by the USPS.
How to find a vaccine?
Health Department Vaccine Scheduling Resource Line
Monday – Friday 8 AM – 8 PM ET
Saturday – Sunday 8 AM – 5 PM ET
Health Department Vaccine Schedule Web Portal: https://gta-vras.powerappsportals.us/en-US/
Vaccine Finder: https://www.vaccines.gov/
CORE Vaccination Pop-Up Events: https://www.coreresponse.org/covid-19/atlanta-ga
DPH Case Dashboard: https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report
DPH Vaccine Dashboard: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/3d8eea39f5c1443db1743a4cb8948a9c
DPH Testing Locations: https://dph.georgia.gov/covidtesting
As always, it is an honor to represent you under the Gold Dome. Please share your thoughts on legislation and let me know if you need help with any state agency.