UPDATES                SENATE REPORT                                
           UPDATES                SENATE REPORT                                
Senate Leadership Changes - Updated

ATLANTA - January 10, 2017

Now that the two-year session has begun, the changes in Senate leadership, the many new office assignments, and Senate Rules that govern the procedures of the upper chamber are set.

My office will now be on the first floor of the State Capitol. That address is Suite 121-E, 206 Washington Street, Atlanta, GA 30334. As far as I know from the Senate Secretary, the phone number should remain as (404) 656-0045. However, if not, try (404) 463-0697.
2017-2018 Georgia General Assembly Has Begun

ATLANTA - January 10, 2017

The 2017 Session kicked off at 10:00 a.m., Monday, January 9th. To tune into the Senate floor any time that we are in session, click this link which will live stream until we adjourn.

Our calendar for the first part of the session is as follows:

This week, we will be in session on Wednesday, January 11th and Thursday, January 12th, starting at 10:00 a.m. both days. Next week, we will not be in session at all, however, we will have budget hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will be at the Capitol both of those days. The following week, we will be back in session starting Monday, January 23rd, through Friday, the 27th, beginning each day at 10:00 a.m. The last week of the month, we will be in session four days, from Monday, January 30th through Thursday, February 2nd, also starting at 10:00 a.m. each day.

Education will also hit some reset buttons under the Trump administration. His focus on charter schools will provide many opportunities for states to expand school choice. It is also my hope that he will immediately work to revamp language in ESSA to repeal some of the federal mandates on testing, among other provisions. If that happens, state law should follow suit to reflect that new found freedom from federal micro-management.

Since the federal government will now enforce its laws dealing with illegal immigration, I expect that Georgia will now be able to pass legislation to better deal with illegal immigrants in our state. Part of these efforts should certainly address so-called sanctuary cities and sanctuary campuses.

It should prove to be an interesting session this year. I hope it will result in some long needed changes in public policy that will benefit our Georgia economy and our children.
As for Rules changes, we did move Crossover Day to an earlier time in the session. For several years, it has been Day 30 when bills from one chamber must move to the opposite chamber in order to be considered for final passage. The purpose for this suggested change is the need for the Senate to have more time to consider House bills. Crossover Day will now be Day 28.

Another change which I am personally concerned about is the draft rule that shortens the time for us to read conference committee reports at the end of the session. Currently, in the last five hectic days, conference committee reports must be on our desks at least two hours before a final vote takes place. The new proposed rule would allow for this to only be a requirement in the last four days and would also allow us to suspend the two-hour requirement by a simple majority vote.
Even though we could probably pass more bills under the new rule, the decreased time to digest the many changes made by a conference committee could lead to a great deal of confusion and potentially unsound legislation. If this new rule creates such a result, then we do have a process to amend them.

Committee assignments have also changed. I will now serve as the Chairman of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, Vice-Chair of Ethics, Vice-Chair of Reapportionment, and a member of Appropriations, Judiciary, and Health and Human Services. For further information about these committees, visit the Committees tab on this website.
With all the changes taking place in Washington, D.C., the lawmaking process here in Georgia will certainly be affected in what appears to be a good way.

No doubt, as the repeal of Obamacare takes place, the State of Georgia will most likely have opportunities to open up the health insurance markets across state lines. Competition among insurance companies and less federal mandates will truly mean  affordable health insurance for citizens. In addition, due to Obamacare repeal plans, we already have seen Georgia lawmakers walk back any interest they may have had in expanding Medicaid.

Another federal law which I expect to be rolled back in some measure is Dodd Frank. Under this law, it has become more difficult and costly for individuals and businesses to borrow money. I hope changes in Dodd Frank will open up possibilities for Georgia to provide better banking solutions to our business community and to individuals.
                          Third District