Session Update: Week Nine

On Monday, March 9, 2020, the General Assembly began Week Nine of the 2020 Legislative Session. Every year, my colleagues and I meet for 40 days to work for the betterment of Georgia. On Thursday, March 12, we reached Legislative Day 28, or “Cross Over Day.” Cross Over Day is a critical deadline in the General Assembly, as it is the last day a piece of legislation can pass out of its original chamber and remain eligible for consideration by the opposite legislative chamber. On Cross Over Day, my colleagues and I worked late into the night to pass several House bills, which will now be considered by the Senate.

An important announcement came during the ninth week of the session as Speaker of the House David Ralston and Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan decided to suspend the 2020 legislative session until further notice due to the growing threat of COVID-19 (coronavirus) across the state and country. The suspension is out of an abundance of caution for public safety. We suspended the legislative session indefinitely after we adjourned for Legislative Day 29 on Friday, March 13.

Before we suspended the legislative session, the House passed the most critical piece of legislation of the session, House Bill 793, which is the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021) budget. The FY 2021 budget is at a revenue estimate of $28.1 billion. HB 793 demonstrates the House’s ongoing support of expanded mental health care and crisis intervention services, access to quality health care, and restoring grants for county health departments and public libraries. It also includes the reinstatement of funds to ensure a fully-functioning criminal justice system, including adequate funding for public defenders, accountability courts, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) crime labs. 

This week, the House also passed House Bill 1114, which would allow the Department of Community Health (DCH) to pursue a Medicaid waiver to extend postpartum health care coverage for mothers for a period of up to six months following birth. Under the bill, the DCH could also submit a Medicaid waiver to provide coverage for lactation care and services for new mothers who are trying or struggling to breastfeed their babies. 

We also passed legislation this week to provide paid parental leave to all of Georgia’s state employees as their families grow. House Bill 1094 will provide approximately 246,000 state employees with three weeks, or 120 hours, of paid leave upon the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child. The paid parental leave benefit would apply to state employees with six months of creditable service regardless of the employee’s gender. It would be limited to once in any 12 months, and this benefit will not impact the employee’s accrued leave or rights under any family medical leave policy.         

The House also passed legislation this week to reform and lower personal income taxes for Georgians. House Bill 949 will reduce Georgia’s personal income tax to a flat rate of 5.375 percent. The corporate tax rate, already a flat tax, would remain at 5.75 percent. HB 949 will also institute a new Georgia Income Tax Credit for working families to offset the flattening of the tax brackets.         

My colleagues and I also passed legislation to strengthen the state’s adoption laws to continue to place more foster children in their forever homes. House Bill 913 would reduce the statutory age at which a person is allowed to petition for adoption from 25 to 21 years old, enabling more families to adopt children in our state.. Additionally, HB 913 would allow adoptive parents to file a civil cause of action to address adoption scams when individuals deliberately misrepresent a pregnancy or intention to place a child for adoption when the individual is not pregnant or has no intention of placing a child for adoption.           

To address recent concerns over ethylene oxide leaks in some Georgia communities, we passed a bill this week that seeks to protect Georgia citizens from the dangers of being exposed to this known carcinogen. House Bill 927 would require any permittee of operation or facility that utilizes ethylene oxide in our state to report a spill or release of any amount of this gas to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) within 24-hours of discovery, and the EPD would be required to make this report available to the public on the division’s website.         

On Cross Over Day, we adopted a conference committee report that gave final passage to the Amended Fiscal Year 2020 budget, or House Bill 792. During the 2019 legislative session, the original Fiscal Year 2020 (FY 2020) budget was set by a revenue estimate of $27.5 billion. When Gov. Kemp first released his budget recommendations at the beginning of the 2020 legislative session, he adjusted the state revenue estimate for Amended Fiscal Year 2020 (AFY 2020) down to $27.3 billion. The Conference Committee Report on the AFY 2020 budget includes several of the House’s funding priorities including:

Add $132.8 million for the midterm enrollment adjustment for education

Restore $1.3 million for our libraries and archives

Fund $4 million for our criminal justice reform

Add $8.2 million for new access to Georgians in need of a crisis with the Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities 

Restore $6.4 million for public health grants to counties

Increase of $100 million from the Revenue Shortfall Reserve for the Governor’s Emergency Fund for the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Add $5 million to rural hospitals to prepare for the spread of COVID-19

From Day One to now, I presented two bills that passed in the House and are now being considered in the Senate. The following bills include:

House Bill 854, which would require counties, municipalities and consolidated governments to treat fence detection systems, in all matters, as alarm systems

House Bill 1102, which would create the “Revised Homestead Option Sales and Use Tax Act of 2020” (RHOST) to allow voters of a county, where a homestead option sales and use tax (HOST) is already in place, to file a petition with the county election superintendent to replace the current HOST with an RHOST

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 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!

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

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

Session Update: Week Eight

On Monday, March 2, 2020, the General Assembly began Week Eight of the 2020 Legislative Session. Every year, my colleagues and I meet for 40 days to work for the betterment of Georgia.

We kicked off the week by unanimously passing legislation to aid in the fight against human trafficking in Georgia. House Bill 823 would allow the Georgia Department of Driver Services to revoke a person’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) and impose a lifetime CDL ban in Georgia for those who are convicted and knowingly used a commercial vehicle in the commission of a human trafficking crime, which includes trafficking an individual for labor servitude or sexual servitude. Over 3,600 children are sold into sex trafficking in Georgia every year, and our largest city, Atlanta, was listed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as one of 14 U.S. cities with the most sex trafficking activity. 

My colleagues and I also passed two important pieces of legislation to protect our citizens from incurring unexpected medical costs. We passed House Bill 888, or the “Surprise Billing Consumer Act,” which would require insurance providers to pay for emergency medical services without need for any prior authorization and without any retrospective payment denial for medically necessary services, regardless of whether a health care provider giving emergency medical services is a participating provider or not. In addition to HB 888, we also passed the “Surprise Bill Transparency Act” to increase awareness and provide a resource regarding insurance coverage for hospital-based specialty groups. House Bill 789 would create a health benefit plan surprise bill rating system to determine if a patient’s benefit plan would apply to certain hospital-based specialty groups, including anesthesiologists, pathologists, radiologists and emergency medicine physicians.

We also passed House Bill 946 which creates transparency for prescription drug prices and allows the state to better oversee pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs), who are third-party prescription drug administrators that pay for, reimburse and cover the cost of drugs, devices or pharmacy care on behalf of a health plan. Similarly, we also passed House Bill 918 to amend the “The Pharmacy Audit Bill of Rights” to place limitations on the size and frequency of pharmacy audits by PBMs, which PBMs currently use as a way to recapture money from pharmacists around the state. Additionally, the House passed House Bill 947 to require the Department of Community Health (DCH) to initiate an independent, third-party actuarial study to determine the potential savings associated with carving out prescription drug benefits from Medicaid care management organizations (CMOs) and providing those benefits through the DCH’s Medicaid fee-for-service program. 

The House also unanimously passed House Bill 914 to support our military families and veterans as they make our state their home. This bill would streamline and expedite the professional licensing process for military spouses, as well as service members who are transitioning into the private sector when they move to our state. HB 914 would require professional licensing boards to issue expedited licenses to those who hold a current license for their job and are in good standing with another state. Members of the military, along with their spouses and families, make immense sacrifices as they move from state to state to serve our country, but this legislation would help them quickly secure professional opportunities and would make Georgia a more military-friendly state.

We passed House Bill 855, which would require the Department of Education (DOE) to provide guidance to local school systems in order to assess whether a newly enrolled foster care child has been exposed to trauma which adversely impacted the student’s educational performance or behavior. The Department of Education would develop a protocol for schools to immediately assess foster children who are removed from their homes and are subsequently placed in a new schooling environment. 

Before we finished week eight, we passed legislation to expand and improve Georgia’s hemp farming laws. House Bill 847 would allow any college or university in Georgia to operate a pilot hemp research program, and it would permit colleges and universities to engage third parties to assist in these research programs. The bill would also allow a licensed provider to provide or sell hemp to a Georgia college or university or to another provider who is not licensed in Georgia but is located in a state with a hemp regulation plan that is in accordance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. HB 847 would increase the initial permit fee for a hemp processor from $25,000 to $50,000 to help keep Georgia’s hemp program sustainable and would revise background check requirements for licensees and permittees.

This week, I qualified to run for State House again. It has been an honor serving District 109, and I look forward to serving you again! 

My colleagues and I also passed the following bills and resolutions on the House floor this week:

House Bill 486, which would prohibit an individual from advertising that he or she is a journeyman plumber unless he or she has a valid license from the Division of Master Plumbers and Journeyman Plumbers

House Bill 576, which would change the distribution order of payments collected from driving under the influence and reckless driving fines by moving the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund up to the fifth on the list in order to receive payments

House Bill 830, which would allow eligible large retirement systems to invest up to 10 percent of assets in alternative investments

House Bill 885, which would grant district attorneys access to all information regarding a violent or sexual offender’s record, including confidential state secrets, when the offender is found guilty of serious violent felonies or dangerous sexual offenses and is eligible for parole

House Bill 957, which would allow teachers at Georgia charter schools to be eligible for state health insurance plans

House Resolution 962, which would amend the Georgia Constitution to authorize the General Assembly to allow local boards of education to call for local referenda to authorize an assessment of residential homestead property at 20 percent of fair market value

House Bill 1054, which would authorize the Department of Public Health to promulgate rules and regulations creating a newborn screening system for the prevention of serious illness, severe physical or developmental disability and death caused by inherited metabolic and genetic disorders

House Resolution 1094, which would authorize non-exclusive easements for the construction, operation and maintenance of facilities, utilities, roads and ingress and egress in, on, over, under, upon, across or through state property in the following Georgia counties: Barrow, Calhoun, Chatham, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Crisp, Dougherty, Douglas, McIntosh, Muscogee, Paulding, Polk and Richmond

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 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!

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

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

Session Update: Week Seven

On Monday, February 24, 2020, the General Assembly began Week Seven of the 2020 Legislative Session. Every year, my colleagues and I meet for 40 days to work for the betterment of Georgia. This week we convened with the Senate for a joint session to hear Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton deliver the annual State of the Judiciary address, and we conducted the people’s business in various meetings.

At the beginning of the week, the House passed a bipartisan bill further to improve the quality of Georgia’s freight rail infrastructure. House Bill 820 would establish the Georgia Freight Railroad Program within the Department of Transportation (DOT). This innovative program would enhance the State’s investment in our freight rail system by delegating projects to three subprograms that specialize in different aspects of improving freight rail across the State: rail enhancement, rail preservation, and rail industries. This legislation would allow our State to take the necessary steps to move goods more safely and efficiently.

The House also passed House Bill 987 to reform senior care in Georgia protecting elderly individuals living in personal care homes and assisted living facilities in our State. It would update Georgia’s laws to enhance senior care in personal care homes with 25 beds or more and in assisted living facilities. Direct care staff would be required to have initial and annual training, and facilities would have to maintain one direct care staff person for every 15 residents during waking hours and one for every 20 residents during non-waking hours. Additionally, assisted living facilities would need to maintain at least two direct care staff at all times and a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) between eight and 40 hours each week. HB 987 would also require these facilities to provide timely notice to the Department of Community Health (DCH) and residents if bankruptcy impacts patient care, property eviction, or change in ownership.

Moreover, owners of these facilities would have to provide documentation to the DCH upon submission of application for licensure to prove that they can operate responsibly for at least two years. Furthermore, HB 987 would require memory care units to provide the following staff: one dementia trained staff person for every 12 residents; one licensed social worker or professional counselor for eight hours per month; one RN, LPN or certified medication aide at all times; at least two direct care staff at all times; at least one RN or LPN between eight and 40 hours on-site; and initial and annual dementia-specific training. Finally, HB 987 would impose and increase mandatory fines for any violation that causes the death or serious physical injury of a resident. This legislation would make necessary updates to our laws to make sure that there is better oversight of these facilities to protect some of our most vulnerable citizens.

We also passed House Bill 842, or Gracie’s law, which prohibits discrimination of individuals with physical and mental disabilities from receiving an organ transplant. Through this legislation, individuals who are candidates for an organ transplant would not be deemed ineligible or denied insurance coverage solely based on the individual’s physical or mental disability. HB 842 would also prohibit this type of discrimination for the following care regarding transplants: diagnostic or referral services, evaluation, surgery, counseling, and postoperative treatment and services. Federal law currently prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities, but many Georgians still experience discrimination when they need a life-saving transplant. 

The House also unanimously passed legislation this week to increase access to dental care in our State. House Bill 521 would allow non-Georgia licensed dentists and dental hygienists who are licensed and are in good standing in other states to provide dental treatment and services to low-income Georgians on a volunteer basis. This bill would authorize temporary, limited licenses to dentists and dental hygienists to practice dentistry in Georgia under the direct supervision of a Georgia-licensed dentist, and the temporary license would be valid for five days every six months. 

My colleagues and I unanimously passed another bipartisan measure this week in honor of Georgia’s veterans. Under House Bill 819, Georgia residents who are U.S. citizens and veterans of the armed forces for countries that are allies of the U.S. during a time of war or conflict would qualify for a Georgia veteran’s license. Additionally, unmarried, surviving spouses of these veterans would qualify for an honorary veteran’s license. 

Also this week, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Herold D. Melton delivered his second annual State of the Judiciary address on Wednesday. During his address, Chief Justice Melton implored the General Assembly to continue to ensure that all Georgians, rich and poor, have access to justice. Our courts have seen a growing number of self-represented Georgians in court, and today, more than 1 million citizens in our State have represented themselves. To aid in this matter, Chief Justice Melton spoke about several initiatives around the State that offer new services and resources at our law libraries, such as self-help videos on specific legal matters that help litigants better navigate the complex legal process.

Chief Justice Melton has also formed an ad hoc committee to explore and promote best practices for transforming law libraries across the State to assist self-represented litigants. In addition to this ad hoc committee, our chief justice also established a cybersecurity committee to identify and mitigate against ransomware attacks on the State’s judicial networks. This committee is working to produce tools and solutions safeguarding the vital information entrusted to the judicial branch of government, and the committee will make specific recommendations shortly to protect our judicial branch.

He applauded Governor Brian Kemp and the General Assembly for creating the Behavioral Health Innovation and Reform Commission, which is working to identify the ways that behavioral health problems lead to entanglement with the criminal justice system. Chief Justice Melton also shared about the success of our State’s mental health courts that reduce recidivism rates, save taxpayer dollars, and provide alternative solutions for citizens struggling with mental illnesses. 

Chief Justice Melton also shared an innovative program that is helping to identify and curb gang activity by offering new pathways for juvenile offenders. Through Fulton County’s Level Up program, district attorneys and public defenders are working together with the juvenile court to identify 13 to 16-year-olds who have already committed three non-violent offenses, and the program seeks to intervene in their lives before they enter into the adult criminal justice system. The Level Up program strives to make a difference in our communities, keep vulnerable children out of gangs, and put them on a better path.

Finally, my colleagues and I honored the Turner family of Covington on the passing of Almond Turner with House Resolution 915. Turner was a police officer of the Covington Police Department. We continue to send our condolences to the family and Covington Community. 

The House also passed the following legislation during the seventh week of session:

House Bill 417, which would provide regulations for trauma scene cleanup services and would require those who offer professional trauma scene cleanup services to register with the Georgia Secretary of State;

House Bill 463, which would change the description of the type of three-wheeled motor vehicle that a driver with a Class C driver’s license is permitted to drive;

House Bill 555, which would add Division of Family and Children Services case managers to a list of officials for whom an evidentiary hearing is required before issuing an arrest warrant for offenses alleged to have been committed while in performance of their duties;

House Bill 583, which would create additional regulations for the travel insurance industry to establish uniform meanings of key terms and clarify sales practices and application of Georgia’s unfair trade practice laws;

House Bill 664, which would allow full-time employees of the Georgia General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Counsel, who are in good standing with the State Bar of Georgia, to become members of the Judicial Retirement System of Georgia (JRS); 

House Bill 752, which would require psychologists, physical therapists and physical therapist assistants to submit a fingerprint record check report conducted by the Georgia Crime Information Center and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in order to receive a Georgia license;

House Bill 779, which would modify the distribution of proceeds for ad valorem taxes on motor vehicles to counties, municipalities and school districts;

House Bill 799, which would bring driving under the influence (DUI) of controlled substances and marijuana in line with alcohol DUIs by giving Georgia’s trial judges the discretion to reinstate a driving license early or allow for a limited driving permit;

House Bill 808, which would allow vehicles owned by a dealer to remain exempt from the Title Ad Valorem Tax for up to 45 days when the vehicle is used as a loaner vehicle;

House Bill 838, which would change the name of the Department of Public Safety’s Office of Public Safety Officer Support to the Office of Public Safety Support;

House Bill 846, which would create the direct pay reporting program to allow qualified taxpayers to accrue and pay sales and use taxes owed directly to the Department of Revenue;

House Bill 893, which would reduce the frequency of Special Insurance Fraud Fund assessments from quarterly to annually.

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 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!

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

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

Session Update: Week Six

On Tuesday, February 18, 2020, the General Assembly began Week Six of the 2020 Legislative Session. Every year, my colleagues and I meet for 40 days to work for the betterment of Georgia. I will update you weekly on what is happening at the Capitol.

On Wednesday, February 19, we passed one of the most important bills of the legislative session, House Bill 792, to amend the state budget for the current fiscal year. The House Appropriations Committee and its subcommittees have worked many long hours to finalize the AFY 2020 budget bill based on Gov. Kemp’s budget proposal and fulfill our constitutional obligation to pass a balanced budget. 

In addition to passing HB 792 this week, my colleagues and I unanimously passed House Bill 487, Robert Argo Disaster Volunteer Relief Act, to provide a greater opportunity for Georgia’s state employees to volunteer after declared natural disasters occur. In recent years, Georgia has experienced many natural disasters, and selfless Georgians, including state employees, volunteered their time and energy to rebuild our impacted communities. Under HB 487, state employees who are certified volunteers of the Civil Air Patrol United States Air Force Auxiliary would be granted paid leave for up to 15 workdays per year for volunteering after certain natural disasters in specialized emergency services operations. This legislation is named in honor of former Georgia Representative Robert Argo, who was active in the Civil Air Patrol during World War II.

This week I presented HB 854 to the Governmental Affairs Committee. This measure would set minimum standards for the alarm fencing industry to allow a seamless permitting process with local government bodies across the state. Currently, most city and county permitting offices in Georgia have no governing ordinances in place, which creates a lengthy delay for business owners who decide to protect their assets with the latest technology in alarm fencing. This legislation will only apply to businesses already located in commercial and industrial zoned properties. Also, this measure would give local governing bodies the ability to issue installation permits quickly which will, in turn, allow their community business owners to safely protect their investments.

I also signed onto HB 868 with Chairman Chuck Martin which will eliminate the sales tax on for-hire ground transportation companies like taxi cabs, Uber, and Lyft. Since this is a service and not a tangible product, we feel it’s worth a conversation to eliminate the sales tax.

The House also passed several other measures during the sixth week of session, including:

House Bill 195, which would increase the death benefit for members of the Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund from $5,000 to $10,000

House Bill 292, which would repeal the requirement for an accrued liability to be paid to the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) of Georgia on behalf of participating Regent’s Optional Retirement Plan members and the normal contribution rate resulting from employees who cease to be members of TRS

House Bill 538, which would require courts and the Georgia Tax Tribunal to decide all questions of law regarding the proper interpretation of revenue and taxation-related statutes or regulations without deference to the Department of Revenue’s interpretation of the statute or regulation in dispute

House Bill 716, which would require any carrier that issues a health benefit plan in Georgia through an agent to pay a commission to that agent and file their proposed commission rates with the Department of Insurance

House Bill 758, which would allow motor carriers to implement, require or deploy a motor carrier safety improvement program for individuals without affecting the individual’s status as an employee or independent contractor

House Bill 759, which would authorize the annual drug update to comply with federal regulations and would capture new synthetic drugs, such as spice and bath salts

House Bill 765, which would increase the minimum salary and compensation of magistrates and clerks by providing a cost-of-living adjustment and a five percent raise

House Bill 777, which would require the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to review the tall mass timber provisions in the 2021 International Building Code and consider whether amendments should be made to the minimum standard codes

House Bill 780, which would allow the State Properties Commission to use a written appraisal of value for the conveyance of property that solely and directly benefits the state

House Bill 781, which is the annual legislation brought by the Department of Banking that would update and modernize Georgia’s banking code

House Bill 786, which would allow for an additional superior court judge in the Flint Judicial Circuit

House Resolution 1023, which would provide for a constitutional amendment that would allow Georgia citizens and corporations domiciled in Georgia to seek declaratory relief

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 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!

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

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

Session Update: Week Five

Week five of the 2020 session was postponed to allow us more time to scrutinize the budget cuts Governor Kemp has recommended. Every year, my colleagues and I meet for 40 days to work for the betterment of Georgia and numerous other days go toward committee meetings and constituent work. 

Governor Kemp instructed state agencies to reduce spending by four percent in AFY 2020 and six percent in FY 2021 budgets. Many of you may have read reports regarding our Speaker and Governor Kemp not agreeing on many of the issues surrounding the cuts. I agree with Speaker Ralston, and we will not be in a hurry to allocate $28 billion of your tax dollars. I also understand Governor Kemp’s position on tightening the budget. There is no better time to save money than when times are good. We are in a much better position to save now rather than waiting for bad economic times. We all know the government can always cut spending. I am confident my colleagues and I will be able to accomplish both savings and cuts when we start back on Tuesday, February 18th.

Some good news from Washington as President Trump’s proposed budget includes $93.6 million for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. These funds will help the project stay on track for completion by 2022. Georgia Ports Authority announced the Port of Savannah was awarded $34.6 million through the Port Infrastructure Development Grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

    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 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. Do not hesitate to reach out throughout the legislative session with any opinions or questions you may have.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Below, I have 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

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