Evans E-Bulletin Week Five

This was the fifth week of session, and the days are getting longer and busier. The House passed several bills, including our version of the Amended Fiscal Year 2024 budget, and continued committee work. A joint legislative session was also held for the State of the Judiciary address.

We will be having our second town hall of the 2024 Legislative Session on March 7th, at 7pm! State Senator Sonya Halpern and I will bring you the latest news from the Gold Dome post-Crossover Day and answer any of your questions. Please register here for this virtual event.

Passed in the House

Budget Update

HB915 is the amended FY 2024 budget. It is set at a revenue estimate of approximately $37.5 billion. Governor Kemp’s estimate for the amended budget includes $2 billion in surplus funds, bringing the total to $5 billion, and marking a 15.6 percent increase from the original estimate. The Amended FY 2024 budget provides investments in technology, capital improvements, safety and security initiatives, economic development projects, and human capital enhancements. There is more we could be doing, but I appreciate that this is a continued improvement. The proposed amended budget passed the House on Wednesday and is now over in the Senate. I will share the highlights when it is officially passed both chambers.


Criminal Justice

SB63 makes many nonviolent offenses bail restricted. The restrictiveness of this bill will continue to lead to the overcrowding of underfunded jails across the state of Georgia. The presumption of innocence is one of, if not the most, essential features of our criminal legal system. Without being able to afford bail, persons who enter jail under the presumption of innocence will receive a more extensive punishment. This bill will punish people who cannot afford to buy their own release early before due process can run. I voted no.


Health and Safety

HB1035 would allow for the sale and supply of opioid antagonists, like Narcan, in vending machines, while protecting those who dispense, supply, and administer these opioid-overdose reversal drugs from liability when they act in good faith. This legislation would build on Georgia’s 911 Medical Amnesty Law, legislation enacted nearly a decade ago that provides immunity from arrest, charge, or prosecution for possession of certain drugs, alcohol, and drug paraphernalia for any person who seeks medical assistance in good faith for someone experiencing an overdose.


Under current law, pharmacists could face charges for distributing drugs like Narcan via vending machines, but this bill would change current law to protect pharmacists in these situations. This measure is not intended to encourage the use of drugs or participate in illegal drinking, but rather, the legislation would give Georgians, especially college students, a lifesaving opportunity should they need it. Finally, this legislation would allow our state’s public health commissioner to expand standing orders to allow new opioid antagonist drugs to be made available over the counter. This bill would certainly save lives in Georgia by expanding access to these critical overdose-reversal drugs. This is a great bill. I voted yes and I was glad to see it passed unanimously.


HB959 would update the Spencer Pass Law to provide guidelines when drivers are approaching and passing a stationary motor vehicle when individuals are present outside of the vehicle or when the vehicle is flashing its hazard lights. I voted yes. 


Higher Education

HB130 establishes a student loan repayment program for eligible full-time peace officers. The total repayment amount must not exceed $20,000 or the total student debt amount, whichever is less. Payments will be paid in annual installments for a period not exceeding five years. The Georgia Student Finance Authority is authorized to establish rules and regulations to implement the program, and the program is contingent upon appropriation of funds by the General Assembly. This bill passed unanimously.


HB982 would authorize the State Workforce Development Board to develop and approve a high-demand career list. This was a bill that came out of the efforts of a study committee I worked on during the off season. This will ensure a comprehensive look at what careers are high demand so that we are providing extra higher education dollars to support students going into those fields. I was thrilled to see this bill pass.


HB970 expands eligibility of the Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) scholarship to victims of human trafficking. The bill authorizes REACH participating school systems to designate REACH scholars each school year, subject to available appropriations. This bill also requires REACH participating school systems to provide $1,000 and the authority to provide $9,000 for each REACH scholar enrolled in the school system. This was unanimously passed.



HB871 would amend current law relating to homestead exemptions for qualified disabled veterans to allow the un-remarried surviving spouse or minor children of a disabled veteran to continue receiving the homestead exemption granted to the disabled veteran, regardless of whether the un-remarried surviving spouse or minor children relocate to any other county in the state. I voted yes. 


HB1015 relates to individual income tax rates, to lower the individual income tax rate effective on January 1, 2024, from 5.49 percent to 5.39 percent. I voted yes. 


HB1019 increases the statewide homestead exemption from $2,000 to $4,000, provided the owner resides in the home as their primary residence. I voted yes. 


HB1021 relates to personal exemptions, to increase the personal exemption for each dependent from $3,000 to $4,000. I voted yes. 


Fun with cornbread

HB1048 would designate cornbread as the official state bread. I voted yes. 


There was a debate about whether we should instead designate the biscuit. In the end, we decided that we are probably better served to vote biscuit as the official state breakfast bread. Stay tuned.

Friends don’t let friends be uninformed

Help your neighbors stay informed and encourage them to subscribe to the 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 on the front 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. Also, please remember I’m here to help with issues you may encounter with state agencies.

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