Youth Leadership Henry – State Government Day at the Capitol

Youth Leadership Henry
Photo credit: Youth Leadership Henry

Youth Leadership Henry is a program sponsored by the Henry County Chamber of Commerce that identifies and develops emerging leaders and gives them an environment in which they learn and grow. These students meet regularly throughout the year to learn about the needs of Henry County from local leaders, professionals, and teachers in their community.

On Tuesday, February 5th, these young leaders visited my colleagues and me at the Capitol building. We had the pleasure of showing students around the Capitol and speaking to them about what we do as lawmakers to meet the needs of our communities. Talking with these students was very encouraging, and they seemed to enjoy getting an up-close look of local government. I enjoyed seeing young people who are interested in being aware of the issues of their community and wanting to do something about it. They are setting a terrific example to their peers and showing them that they don’t have to wait until after school to begin taking the initiative to solve problems.

If you are interested in your student applying for this program in the fall, Visit the Youth Leadership Henry website. Take a look at their Facebook page as well to see some photos of their excursions.

Youth Leadership Henry
Photo Credit: Youth Leadership Henry

The General Assembly is currently working through the 4th week of the 2019 legislative session. As we begin to pass even more pieces of legislation, I encourage you to reach out to me with any opinions or questions you may have.

How to Reach Me:

Help me serve you better by informing me of the needs you see in your community. I encourage you to reach out to me with questions, comments, and concerns about legislation we are working on throughout this session. You are also welcome to visit me at the Capitol.

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Emaildale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

2019 Legislative Session – Week 3

During week 3 of the 2019 legislative session, the House and the Senate began their regular committee meetings—the first consisting of adopting rules and hearing presentations.

Bills at a Glance

The Council for Quality Growth has been tracking the development of Senate Bill 2, Senate Bill 17, House Bill 22, House Bill 23, and House Bill 100—HB 22 and HB 23 passed out of the House of Economic Development Committee last Monday. These bills are all related to allowing nonprofit telephone companies and electric membership corporations to provide broadband service to rural Georgia. The Council is also keeping an eye on House Bill 49 and House Bill 48. HB 49 would allow the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District to study whether there is value in interbasin water transfer from the Tennesee River as part of the Metro Water District’s conservation management plans. HB 48 concerns the proposed reinstatement of excise motor fuel & natural gas tax exemptions for certain public mass transit vehicles.

The Impact of E-scooters in Atlanta

If you’ve been to Atlanta recently, I’m sure you’ve noticed more than a few electric scooters parked on sidewalks. Last spring, Bird and Lime introduced their electric, shared scooters into Atlanta as a new form of transportation for anyone trying to cheaply get around the city in a more eco-friendly way. Now, we are seeing even more e-scooter companies preparing to provide this service as well.

Senate Bill 24 would require electric personal assistive mobility devices to be licensed under Georgia’s Motor Vehicle Law. This would require scooters to be titled and carry separate motor vehicle insurance making rental financially nonviable.

Data shows that 79% of people have a “positive perception.” According to the United States Department of Energy, 60% of car trips in the US are less than 6 miles and 40% of car trips are less than 2 miles. The study also shows that E-scooters could dramatically reduce the number of cars on the road.

If balanced with the proper safety considerations, e-scooters could do wonders for mobility in metro Atlanta considering its affordability, ease of use, and eco-friendly benefits. I’ll update you on this as it develops.


The House is currently working through the 4th week of this year’s legislative session. As we begin to pass even more pieces of legislation, I encourage you to reach out to me with any opinions or questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you!

2019 Legislative Session – Week 2

Last week, the House and the Senate met for joint Appropriations Committee hearings on the Amended Fiscal Year 2019 (AFY 2019) and the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY 2020) budget. Here are just a few key appropriations.

AFY 2019 Budget Highlights:

-$1 million will be allocated to the Department of Community Health to craft state flexibility options for Georgia’s Medicaid Program.
-$8.4 million is allocated to expand the APEX program in public schools
-$69 million is allocated for school safety measures. Every Georgia public school will receive $30,000 for security improvements.

FY 2020 Budget Highlights:

-The budget includes a 2% merit increase for all state employees.
-$500,00 will go towards initial funds to create a gang task force within the GBI.
-A $3,000 permanent salary increase is allocated for teachers—the largest teacher pay raise in Georgia’s history.

We are still early in the Budget Process. You can follow along here, and I will continue to update you weekly on how the state’s budget will be spent.

My Committee Assignments

Below you can find the committees I am assigned to this session and learn more about each.

Appropriations – Vice-Chairman of Subcommittee
Judiciary – Member
Motor Vehicles – Member
Regulated Industries – Member
Small Business Development – Member
Transportation – Member
Ways & Means – Secretary

Follow the Legislative Process

There are several ways to stay up to date with what is happening at the Capitol.

Check the status of legislation here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/Search.aspx
Watch live broadcasts of session: http://www.house.ga.gov/mediaServices/en-US/VideoBroadcasts.aspx

Follow the Georgia House of Rep. on Facebook and Twitter.

How to Reach me:

Help me serve you better by informing me on the needs you see in your community. I encourage you to reach out to me with questions, comments, and concerns about legislation we are working on throughout this session:

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Email: dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov


Your representatives are currently working through the third week of session. Each week, you can return to my blog to read updates on what the General Assembly is working on for the state of Georgia. Don’t hesitate to reach out throughout the legislative session with any opinions or questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

2019 Legislative Session – Week 1

Brian Kemp Address

On Monday, January 14th, the General Assembly began this year’s 2019 Legislative Session. Every year, my colleagues and I meet for 40 days to pass bills for the betterment of Georgia. I will update you weekly on what is happening at the Capitol building and what you can expect from your representatives.

Governor Kemp’s State of the State Address & Budget Updates

The House got the opportunity to hear from Governor Brian Kemp on Thursday, January 17th. Gov. Kemp went over some of his budget initiatives including:

-$3,000 pay increase for teachers
-$69 million in school security grants
-$1 million towards the state health department’s budget to expand access to Federal Medicaid waivers

In all, Gov. Kemp estimated $27.5 billion for the 2020 State revenue estimate—$2.3 billion higher than Gov. Deal’s 2019 budget. The governor did recommend to eliminate state support for the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District. At $200,000, it accounts for 18% of the District’s budget. The House does not advise this cut at this point in light of the ongoing Tri-State water litigation. Gov. Kemp rejected a $250,000 request by the Georgia Regional Transporation Authority for additional Xpress operations support and a $10 million request by the State Roads & Tollway Authority for year three of the 10-year operations of the Northwest Corridor and I-75 South.

However, the ATL Authority did receive an additional $2.5 million for operations related to the Authority’s startup. Improvements in transit and transportation will be a focus during this session. House Transporation Chairman Kevin Tanner and Council Board Member Sen. Brandon Beach are leading the charge on advocating for legislation to fund multi-year transportation and infrastructure needs for the expansion and efficiency of metro Atlanta’s transit systems.

I will have much more to relay to you regarding budget allocations as session continues. And, if you weren’t aware, video broadcasts of session are available to you. Visit the Georgia House of Representatives website for more information about pending legislation, session photos, committee appointments, and several more resources.

2019 Senate and House Leadership

Below, I’ve listed out leaders from both chambers. You can click through each of their names to find more information about them.

House:

Speaker of the House – David Ralston
Speaker Pro Tempore – Jan Jones
Majority Leader – Jon Burns
Majority Whip – Trey Kelley
Majority Caucus Chair – Matt Hatchett
Majority Caucus Vice Chair – Micah Gravley

Minority Leader – Robert Trammell
Minority Whip – William Boddie
Minority Caucus Chair – James Beverly
Minority Caucus Vice Chair – Erica Thomas

Governor’s Floor Leaders – Jodi Lott, Terry Rogers, Bert Reeves, & Dominic LaRiccia

Senate:

President Pro Tempore – Butch Miller
Majority Leader – Mike Dugan
Majority Whip – Steve Gooch
Majority Caucus Chair – John Kennedy
Majority Caucus Vice Chair – Larry Walker

Minority Leader – Steve Henson
Minority Whip – Harold Jones
Minority Caucus Chair – Gloria Butler
Minority Caucus Vice Chair – Emanuel Jones

Governor’s Floor Leaders – Blake Tillery & Brian Strickland


Your representatives are currently working through the second week of session. Each week, you can return to my blog to read updates on what the General Assembly is working on for the state of Georgia.

You are always welcome to come and visit me at my capitol office located at 601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg. Atlanta, GA 30334. You can view my committee assignments for the legislative term here. Please feel free to contact me by phone at 404.656.0254, or by email at dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov. Don’t hesitate to reach out throughout the legislative session with any opinions or questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you!

2018 Legislative Session – Special Session Update

On Tuesday, November 13th, Governor Nathan Deal called for a special legislative session to allow for the House and Senate to amend the Fiscal Year 2019 state budget. Our state’s agriculture communities in Southwest Georgia took a serious hit during Hurricane Michael. By the end of this 5-day special session, the General Assembly was able to amend the budget which will provide approx. $270 million in emergency funding for our southwest neighbors.

Continue reading this blog post for more updates from this special session. You can learn more about what goes on at the capitol on the Georgia General Assembly website.

Hurricane Michael – Damages & losses

The following is a snapshot of how much Hurricane Michael affected Southwest Georgia:

-$550 million loss in cotton crop

-$13 million loss in the landscape and green industry

-$480 million loss in high-yielding vegetables: tomatoes, peas, peppers, squash, cucumbers, and sweet corn.

-$560 million loss in the pecan industry

-129 commercial poultry houses loss and over 2 million chickens – a $25 million loss

-$25 million in peanut losses

-$763 million loss in timber

 

The House passed the amended budget which will provide $270 million in areas most impacted by the storm. $69 million of this budget is allocated towards the Governor’s Emergency Fund to cover damages and operating costs. The Department of Human Services will also benefit from this fund so they will be able to provide grants to families in need of housing assistance.

Amended Budget Allocations:

-$55 million to the Georgia Development Authority for farmers to access for agricultural loss relief

-$20 million to the Georgia Development Authority for timberland cleanup efforts

-$25 million for the OneGeorgia Authority to provide for local communities and statewide economic development efforts.

-$15 million towards Regional Economic Business Assistance grants to allow Georgia to pursue economic development opportunities in affected areas

-$69 million to the Georgia Department of Transportation for transportation projects and to offset expenses incurred during the storm

 

HB 4EX – Timber Tax Bill 

In addition to the amended budget, the house passed the Timber Tax Bill which will aid in the nearly 2.4 million acres of timberland lost – a value of $762 million.  Sadly, the effects from the hurricane continue to grow. This bill would allow timberland owners to apply for an income tax credit worth 100% of the timberland lost between Oct. 8 and Dec. 31. This income tax credit has a cap of $200 million overall and $400 per acre damaged.

The 2019 session convenes on January 14, 2019.  I encourage you to reach out to me with your questions, concerns, and thoughts on how we can improve the state of Georgia. You are always welcome to come and visit me at my capitol office located at 601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg. Atlanta, GA 30334. You can view my committee assignments for the legislative term here. Please feel free to contact me by phone at 404.656.0254, or by email at dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Dale Rutledge For State House – Vote Early!

There’s no need to wait until November 6th to cast your vote in the General Election. Participate in early voting through November 2nd!
Early Voting Instructions
-Log into you My Voter Page with your name, county, and date of birth. Your voter page contains helpful information including sample ballots, who your elected officials are, and absentee ballot applications.
-Once you’re logged into your voter page, you’ll have access to your early and municipal voting locations. Select “Click Here for Early Voting Locations & Times” to find where & when you can cast your vote early.
I am grateful for your support as I seek re-election for the State House Representative District 109 seat. If you are interested in helping further with my campaign, request to display my yard sign. Send me a private message on my Facebook page with your name, contact information, and address so my team can get a sign out to you.

A Strong Economy – job creation & limited gov’t

-Georgia is yet again the best place to do business for 5 years running.
More Georgians are working today and wages are growing faster than the national average.
-We’ve passed legislation cutting state, personal, and corporate income tax. This is the first state income reduction since implemented in 1934
-We are encouraging 21st-century manufacturing and agribusiness, film production, high tech, data center, and healthcare business expansions.

Education – securing a promising future for GA students

-Targeted technical college and university programs in high demand areas.
-Georgia now offers 17 technical college programs TUITION-FREE through HOPE grant in fields with a 99% placement rate.
-FULLY-FUNDED student formula statewide in the budget for the first time since the formula was implemented 33 years ago.
-Increased education funding per student every year since the Great Recession to the highest level in State History. ($10 billion out of a state budget of $26 billion)
-Highest graduation level rate ever – over 81%
-The state-funded another $2 billion in teacher retirement last year – $360 million more than required to maintain a sound pension plan.

What We’re Working On – progress for a better GA

-We’re focusing on strengthening background checks and mental health services.
-We’re working towards investing more in school security to ensure our state’s educators and students have a safe environment.

Dale For State House – My Campaign Points

As the District 109 State Representative, my goals continue to align with supporting smaller government, less business regulation, lower taxes, and responsible spending of your tax dollars. Here’s a closer look at what I’ve accomplished during my time in the Georgia House and what my goals are for the future of Georgia.

A Strong Economyjob creation & limited gov’t

-Georgia is yet again the best place to do business for 5 years running.
More Georgians are working today and wages are growing faster than national average.
-We’ve passed legislation cutting state, personal, and corporate income tax. This is the first state income reduction since implemented in 1934
-We are encouraging 21st century manufacturing and agribusiness, film production, high tech, data center and healthcare business expansions.

Educationsecuring a promising future for GA students

-Targeted technical college and university programs in high demand areas.
Georgia now offers 17 technical college programs TUITION-FREE through HOPE grant in fields with a 99% placement rate.
-FULLY-FUNDED student formula statewide in the budget for the first time since formula was implemented 33 years ago.
-Increased education funding per student every year since Great Recession to the highest level in State History ($10 billion out of a state budget of $26 billion).
-Highest graduation level rate ever – over 81%
-The state funded another $2 billion in teacher retirement last year – $360 million more than required to maintain a sound pension plan.

What We’re Working Onprogress for a better GA

-We’re focusing on strengthening background checks and mental health services.
-We’re working towards investing more in school security to ensure our state’s educators and students have a safe environment.

I hope I can count on your vote in the upcoming November election! Help me continue to make great strides for the state of Georgia by voting Dale Rutledge for State House.

Find Your Regular & Early Voting Location.
Register to Vote.

Vote Dale Rutledge in the November Election!

 

I am seeking re-election to continue representing District 109 in the Georgia House. Are you registered to vote? The registration deadline is on October 9th. I encourage you to take a few minutes and register to ensure that you have a say in this upcoming election.

I am grateful for the support that I received last May in the Primary Election . . . I’ll need you continued support if I am to advance the state of Georgia and its citizens!

If you are not familiar with my views, learn about them here. Feel free to interact with me on social media and use the hashtag #daleforstatehouse to show your support.

Find your Regular & Early Voting Location: www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do

2018 Legislative Session – Week 12 Update

This is my final blog update on the 2018 Legislative session! On Tuesday, March 27th, the House met for the 12 and final week of the 40 day session. We completed the last day of session, or “Sine Die,” on March 29th. Last week consisted of busy, late nights as my colleagues and I strived to complete our work. In this blog post, I’ll share some of the bills we were able to pass.

Protecting Victims’ Rights

Last week, the House unanimously passed two adjoining bipartisan measures—Senate Bill 127 and Senate Resolution 146. SB 127 would provide a way for victims to be heard by the court when their constitutional rights to participation and information have been denied. The victim in question would need to make a written request to the prosecuting attorney to be notified of all proceedings, provide appropriate contact information, and proclaim that they have not been notified in order to file a motion to the court to be heard on the issue within 20 days after the violation. SR, or Marsy’s Law, would place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to provide victims explicit rights in Georgia’s Constitution. If Georgia voters approve this amendment, Georgia’s Constitution would grant victims several rights including:

-reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of court proceedings or schedule changes pertaining to the alleged crime,

-reasonable and timely notice of the arrest, release or escape of the accused

-inclusion in any court proceedings

-the opportunity to be heard in any proceedings involving the release, plea, or sentencing of the accused,

-and to be informed of their rights.

These measures would put our laws in line with other states who have adopted similar legislation in order to protect the rights of crime victims.

Protecting Sexual Assault Victims

The House also passed Senate Bill 154 which outlines consequences in sexual assault cases involving those in authority positions such as police officers. SB 154 would dictate that anyone who engages in sexual conduct with a victim under their care or supervision would be guilty of sexual assault in the second degree and would be required to serve a prison sentence of 1-5 years and fined a maximum of $25,000. However, they would not need to register as a sex offender unless they are convicted of a second or subsequent offense. Those who engage in sexually explicit conduct with a victim in their care or supervision would be guilty of sexual assault in the first degree, would be required to serve a prison sentence of one to 25 years, fined a maximum of $100,000, and would be required to register as a sex offender. SB 154 provides exceptions to these sentencing requirements for offenders who commit sexual assault in either degree if the offender did not have supervisory or disciplinary authority over the victim, or if the victim is younger than 16, if the victim is between 14 and 16 and the offender is 18 or younger, if the victim is at least 16, and the offender is younger than 21. Senate Bill 154  would apply to employees/agents of:

– schools,

– community supervision offices

– probation offices

– law enforcement agencies

– hospitals

– correctional facilities

– juvenile detention facilities

– disability services facilities or child welfare and youth services facilities

– psychotherapy counseling fields, 

–  licensed facilities that provide drug and alcohol treatment,

– and senior living care or hospice services.

The point of this measure is to hold authority persons accountable who have our most vulnerable citizens under their care.

Update In Criminal Justice Reform

Another unanimously passed bill from last week was Senate Bill 407. SB 407 consists of updates to criminal justice reform based on recommendations from the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. These updates include:

-authorizing courts of inquiry to set bail for city ordinance violations

-requiring courts to only impose conditions that are reasonably necessary to ensure court attendance and protect public safety

-requiring courts to consider the accused’s financial resources, earnings, and other economic factors when determining bail.

-In local ordinance violations cases, the court would be authorized to allow the defendant to satisfy any fines or fees through community service, and courts would be able to waive, modify, or convert fines and fees if the defendant has undergoing financial hardship.

Under SB 407, the Judicial Council of Georgia would create a uniform misdemeanor citation and complaint form for use by law enforcement officials and the bill would allow misdemeanors to be prosecuted by accusation, citation or citation and arrest. Additionally, SB 407 would expand the list of misdemeanor crimes an officer can arrest by citation. Prior to the offender’s release, an officer would need to review the accused’s criminal record and ensure that the accused’s fingerprints are obtained. This bill would authorize accountability court judges to order the Department of Driver Services to reinstate or revoke driver’s licenses or limited permits as a reward of sanction for actions in the accountability court, and the court would be able to grant petitions for early termination of probation that the state does not oppose within 90 days of receiving the petition. SB 407 would cap supervision fees collected on pay-only probation at the rate in the private probation company’s contract, and the court would provide probationers who fail to report a 10-day grace period from the time the officer mails a letter to the probationer, as long as the probationer reports. This bill also includes provisions pertaining to firearm theft and those prohibited from firearm possession. SB 407 would authorize the Department of Community Health to share info on the prescription drug monitoring program database with federal agents and would allow for disclosure to out-of-state prescription drug monitoring programs operated by governmental entities. Lastly, SB 407 would allow Technical College System police officers to arrest for offenses committed on or within 500 feet of a Technical College System property. Under Governor Deal, our state has made significant strides in criminal justice reform. Senate Bill 407 will serve to further define and improve Georgia’s criminal justice system.

Updates in Child Support Laws

The House passed Senate Bill 427 which would require the courts to consider an obligor’s, or an individual that owes child support, earnings, income, ability to pay child support, and the basic needs of the recipients of such child support when making decision about child support costs. If a parent cannot produce reliable evidence of earnings, his or her income for the current year may be assigned by the court based on the parent’s ability to earn and other economic factors. If the parent is incarcerated, his or her income may be assigned based on their actual income and available assets, not based on their pre-incarceration wages. SB 427 would also prohibit courts from treating incarceration as willful or voluntary unemployment or underemployment when setting child support costs. Additionally, SB 427 provides that a child’s enrollment in a public health care program, such as Medicaid or PeachCare for Kids, may satisfy the health care requirement for providing for the child’s health care needs in a child support order. Such enrollment however would not prevent a court from ordering parents to insure their child. 

Promoting Post-Graduation Success

Under Senate Bill 401, would require postsecondary institutions that provide dual credit courses to provide enrollment and student record data to the Office of Student Achievement and to the statewide longitudinal data system. Also, the Office of Student Achievement would collect and monitor enrollment and student record data for dual credit courses and would annually measure and evaluate the dual enrollment program. Senate Bill 401 would require middle school students to be provided with counseling and information to assist them in evaluating their career oriented aptitudes. Students would develop a graduation plan with their parents or guardians based on academic skills, career aptitudes and interests before the end of the eighth grade. Under this legislation, the Department of Education would be required to review each school counselor’s role, workload, and program service delivery in grades 6-12th. The department would report findings to the State Board of Education and the Georgia General Assembly including recommendations for improvements for counselors to ensure student success in academic skills, career oriented aptitude, and career interests. Finally, SB 401 includes provisions that would help prepare students in Kindergarten-9th grade to address sexual abuse, and will allow funding for students taking dual credit courses at eligible eligible postsecondary institutions that use nonstandard term systems.

Rural Georgia & Metro Atlanta Improvements

On March 29th, the House finally passed two significant measures—Senate Bill 402 and House Bill 930. SB 402 contains technical changes to facilitate broadband expansion to rural areas including implementing grant programs for rural broadband. House Bill 930 would create a new regional governance and funding structure for transit in Metro Atlanta. This bill means to improve the coordination, integration, and efficiency of transit in the 13-county Metro Atlanta region.

Passing A Balanced Budget

Before we officially adjourned Sine Die for 2018, the House gave final passage to House Bill 684— The Fiscal Year 2019 ( FY 2019) budget. The FY 2019 budget includes $166.7 million for local school systems, $16 million for school security, $100 million in bonds for transit, and additional funds the meet several, various needs of the state.


With Sine Die competed, the General Assembly has adjourned for this year’s 40 day session. Over the next 40 days, Governor Deal will review and sign or veto measures that were passed during session. Any piece of legislation not signed or vetoed within those 40 days will become law.  I encourage you to reach out to me with questions and concerns about the bills the General Assembly have been working on. You are always welcome to come and visit me at my capitol office located at 601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg. Atlanta, GA 30334.

You can view my committee assignments for legislative term here. Please feel free to contact me by phone at 404.656.0254, or by email at dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov. Don’t hesitate to reach out throughout the legislative session with any opinions or questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you!

2018 Legislative Session – Week 11 Update

Last week, Chipper Jones visited the Capitol and was commended for his outstanding baseball career.

My colleagues and I began the 11th week of this year’s legislative session on Monday, March 19th at the Capitol. With the finish line in sight, we are working towards passing key bills and resolutions before adjourning this 40-day session on March 29th.  In this blog post, I’ll share some of the bills we were able to pass.

A Response to School Violence

On Monday, the House unanimously adopted House Resolution 1414. This resolution would create the House Study Committee on School Security to study ways to curb incidences of violence in order to provide safer learning environments for students, teachers, and staff members. HR 1414 is a response to the recent, tragic mass shooting that has devastated our country. The 9-member House Study Committee on School Security would explore conditions, needs, and issues associated with school security in order to recommend legislation necessary for preventing similar tragedies. The committee would hold 5 hearing to discuss ways to decrease violence in schools and also how to respond if is does occur. Any findings for proposed legislation would be filed by December 1st, 2018.

Improvements in Education & Future Employment

The House also passed Senate Bill 139 and House Bill 759  last week which are additional pieces of legislation concerning our state’s students. SB 139 would allow local school systems, charter schools, colleges, and career academies to create and submit new focused programs of study to the State Board of Education for consideration. Examples of current focused programs are finance information technology and health and science manufacturing. SB 139 would require the State Workforce Development Board to develop and promote an annual list of industry credentials and state licenses that students can earn in middle or high school such as computer certifications. This list would include credentials and licenses related to high-demand occupations with wages of at least 70% of Georgia’s average annual wage. Local school systems would be required to submit an annual report to the Department of Education with the number of students who are earning an industry credential or state license from the high-demand careers list, and the Department of Education would report the number of students earning such credentials or licenses to the governor, president of the Senate and speaker of the House of Representatives, as well as post the list on their website each year. Lastly, House Bill 759 would expand the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program by allowing students who previously qualified for the scholarship to be exempt from the requirement that the student must attend a Georgia public school the year prior. These measures will further equip our state’s students to find meaningful employment after completing their education.

Veteran Mental Health

My colleagues and I adopted House Resolution 1137 which urges the president and Congress to enact federal legislation that would provide members of the armed forces with mental and physical health assistance prior to being discharged. As you may already know, service members often return home with PTSD and other mental or emotional health conditions that make returning to civilian life difficult. We must do what we can to provide the necessary support for these men and women to help them transition back to normalcy.

Protecting Lottery Winners

The House passed Senate Bill 331  in order to protect the identities of Georgia’s lottery winners. SB 33l would require the Georgia Lottery Corporation to keep all information on lottery winners of $250,000 or more confidential upon the winner’s written request. As it stands,  lottery winners may request for their identity to be protected but news sources can still obtain information. Other states have implemented similar legislation in order to prevent lottery winners from scams and additional life-threatening possibilities. SB 331 would give lottery winners the ability to truly remain anonymous and protect themselves and their family members.

Fighting Dementia-Related Diseases

In order to make sure that citizens with dementia-related diseases are best cared for, the House passed Senate Bill 444 or the “Senator Thorborn ‘Ross’ Tolleson, Jr. Act.” This bill would establish the Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Plan Advisory Council to Advise the governor, the General Assembly, the Department of Human Services, and all other state agencies on the state’s Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Plan. The council would recommend strategies to reach the state plan’s objectives and will review progress towards these goals and how resources for individuals with dementia-related diseases have been implemented. This council will consist of leaders in various health, human services and aging-related departments, divisions associations, councils, and committees. Additionally, the governor would appoint individuals with expertise in relevant fields to the council. Lastly, this council would submit a report to the governor and the General Assembly on their work every three years.

Connectivity For all Citizens

The last bill I want to share with you is Senate Bill 402 or the “Achieving Connectivity Everywhere (ACE) Act.” This act would lay the groundwork for expanding broadband services throughout the state by promoting public-private partnerships. The Georgia Technology Authority would be authorized to create any programs or policies needed to coordinate statewide broadband implementation efforts. Under this legislation:

– The Department of Transportation would plan for and implement a policy for the use of rights-of-way on interstate highways and state-owned roads to deploy broadband services.

-Qualifying electric membership corporations and telephone cooperatives would be allowed to provide and operate broadband services, wireless services, and other emerging communications technologies.

-The “Georgia Broadband Ready Community Site Designation Program,” would be established to allow communities to apply to be designated as “broadband ready,’ qualifying them for grant programs and tax exemptions.

-The Department of Community Affairs would develop the “Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative,” to offer funding for qualified broadband providers to deliver broadband services in unserved areas.

Lastly, SB 402 would outline the rates and fees charged for attachments to utility poles and wireless support structures belonging to a local authority, local governing authority, political subdivision providing retail electric service, EMC, and cooperative. The goal of SB 402 is to ensure that all Georgia citizens, especially our state’s rural citizens, have access to high-speed internet.


My colleagues and I are currently in the 12th and final week of this year’s legislative session. We will adjourn on March 29th.  You are always welcome to come and visit me at my capitol office located at 601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg. Atlanta, GA 30334. You can view my committee assignments for legislative term here. Please feel free to contact me by phone at 404.656.0254, or by email at dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov. Don’t hesitate to reach out throughout the legislative session with any opinions or questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you!