This was the fourth week of the legislative session. On Thursday we passed the amended FY 2023 state budget in the House and sent it over to the Senate.
We will now begin working on the FY 2024 budget. Committees are now meeting regularly and more legislation will begin moving through the House next week.
Town Hall Recap
Senator Sonya Halpern and I hosted our first Town Hall of the session on Wednesday. Thank you to so many of you who joined us and for your comments and questions. We discussed education, healthcare, the state budget, voting rights, reproductive freedom, environmental preservation, and so much more. If you missed Wednesday’s Town Hall, you can watch it here.
Our next Town Hall will be at 7pm on March 8th, after crossover day. Please mark your calendar and be on the lookout for a registration link in the coming weeks
2023 Amended Budget
On Thursday of last week, the House passed the amended FY 2023 budget (HB18). You can read the current version here. Below are some highlights:
The amended 2023 budget provides for an additional one billion for property tax breaks for homeowners and one billion in income tax breaks.
HB 18 increases the State Health Benefit Program monthly employer match for certified employees from $945 to $1,580 starting this year. The House also allocated $100 million to reflect a three-year phase-in for the employer contribution for non-certified school employees starting in January 2024.
This budget also includes $2 million to support private psychiatric contract beds so adults struggling with severe mental health issues can receive the care they need.
The House’s amended budget allocates $250.8 million for the state’s Medicaid program.
HB 18 includes $128.2 million for the Quality Basic Education formula’s midterm adjustment to meet education needs. As well as approves $60,000 in school safety grants. It would also allow for schools to apply for $50,000 in matching funds to implement character education programming.
Legislation I’ve Sponsored/Co-Sponsored
I am thrilled to be working on several pieces of legislation. You can track legislation here.
HB79 – Otherwise known as the Georgia Work and Family Credit Act. This bill revises a state income tax credit based upon the federal qualified child and dependent care tax credit and provides for a state income tax credit equal to 25 percent of the federal child tax credit, and provides for an income tax credit equal to 20 percent of the federal earned income tax credit. This bill would help working families.
HR71 – I sponsored this resolution that would create a study committee to consider the use of front facing license plates (in addition to rear facing license plates). At least half of our country’s states already use front and back license plates. This is a public safety measure, as cameras are better able to read front facing tags, allowing law enforcement to catch those committing hit and run and other violations on our streets.
HR72 – I sponsored this resolution that would create a study committee to consider the use of noise detection devices by our cities. This is another public safety measure meant to help crack down on altered mufflers and street racing.
HB88 – Otherwise known as the Coleman-Baker Act. This bill would provide more avenues to justice for cold cases. Specifically the bill would allow families to apply to a unit of the GBI to review cases after six years of no movement. The bill also allows families to obtain death certificates, even when cases remain unresolved.
HB30 – I co-sponsored this bill that would provide a definition for antisemitism for the state to use when considering whether a crime was motivated by hate or whether illegal discrimination exists, for example in the workplace. I’ve heard example after example of citizens being targeted for being Jewish, but without a definition of antisemitism to consider, these perpetrators are not being made to account for their crimes of hate or discrimination. There was rigorous debate on this bill in Judiciary Committee last week. You can watch it here. I hope there is a committee vote on this bill soon.
HB157 – I sponsored this bill for expansion of the HOPE Grant. This legislation would allow students to use the HOPE Grant for associate level courses taken at a technical college. Currently only the HOPE Scholarship may be used for this purpose. Because of the higher academic requirements and the time limitation on use of the HOPE Scholarship after high school graduation, many technical college students do not qualify for it. This is especially problematic for nursing students. A student may start a program for an entry level nursing degree using the HOPE Grant, but when the student wants to continue to the next level, it is an associates-level course and the student cannot use the HOPE Grant for those courses. This legislation is good for students and families and our workforce, especially given we have a nursing shortage in our state.
HB200 – I co-sponsored this bill that would provide for the option for municipalities to adopt and use instant runoff voting for their elections to help with the financial burden of runoff elections.
ARC Housing Event
On Wednesday the Atlanta Regional Commission provided a briefing on the housing crisis happening in Georgia. Georgia’s rate of housing development has been ineffective in supporting Georgia’s rate of economic development. As you know, a housing crisis affects much more than property buying, it has a deep impact on many social issues such as education, workforce development, generational wealth gaps, and on and on. Currently housing prices in Georgia are increasing four times faster than wages. In order to address the complexities associated with housing inequities, alliances between public, private and the non-profit sector are needed. I look forward to continuing to work toward solutions.
Friends don’t let friends be uninformed
Help your neighbors stay informed and encourage them to subscribe to our newsletter. You can check the boundaries of District 57 here to find friends who may want to keep up with the goings on under the Gold Dome. Anyone (in the district or not) can subscribe to this newsletter by visiting my website and filling out the form “Join us, sign up for email updates” on the home page. Each one reach one!
As always, it is an honor to represent you under the Gold Dome. Please continue to reach out to me with your questions and thoughts on legislation.