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An Update From Under the Gold Dome: Week Eight

Monday, March 06, 2023

As the Senate concludes week eight of the 2023 Legislative Session, my Senate colleagues and I remain diligent in our efforts to ensure all legislation is properly vetted as we descend upon Crossover Day. Monday. March 6 marks the infamous Legislative Day 28 and the deadline is quickly approaching to have legislation passed through the Senate Chamber in order to be voted upon in the House. This week, the Senate took up a number of significant measures to continue to better the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians. 33 measures received passage in the Senate this past week and I am pleased to provide you with updates on a few bills of note.

The most eventful legislative day of the week fell on Thursday, as the Senate debated and passed a total of 15 pieces of legislation with a few bills of note aimed at protecting Georgia’s citizens and communities. I had the pleasure of bringing Senate Bill 170, the “Students and Teachers SPEAK Act,” before the Senate floor for a vote. As I previously outlined, this legislation is a product of concerns brought to my attention by my constituents in Senate District 56. SB 170 aims to allow both teachers and students to serve as ex officio advisors to the State Board of Education. Simultaneously, SB 170 seeks to encourage local school boards to invite student representatives to serve as advisors to the boards. SB 170 passed with bipartisan support and will now make its way to the House for consideration. I am eager to provide you with additional updates on this legislation in the near future.

On a similar note, Senate Bill 62, sponsored by Sen. Carden Summers (R – Cordele), was brought to the floor for a vote. Intended to enforce certain standards for public camping and sleeping, SB 62 is a product of the Senate Study Committee on Unsheltered Homelessness, chaired by Sen. Summers and established pursuant to Senate Resolution 659, which passed during the 2022 Legislative Session. Specifically, SB 62 would prohibit camping or sleeping in unauthorized areas and thus, establish sanctioned camping areas for the homeless. This measure seeks to combat a rising concern across all counties in our state. I was pleased to see this legislation receive passage as it is my hope that with this legislation, we will be able to alleviate this issue and provide the necessary resources to support unsheltered individuals.

In addition, Senate Bill 128, legislation I also sponsored, was brought to the floor for a vote. SB 128 is a fairly simple bill, it increases the percentage of funds that the Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund may invest in alternative investments. The pension fund for law enforcement officers in Georgia does not include state appropriations and has been managed fairly well. It is funded by those who serve in law enforcement through dues and fees therefore it is only fair to give them the opportunity to grow their portfolio. I was grateful to see this measure pass with bipartisan support.

As you well know, the past week was incredibly busy as we worked diligently to deliberate and pass legislation, but it was an honor to take a step back and honor my colleague Senator Michael ‘Doc’ Rhett as I took a point of personal privilege from the Well to commend his leadership and service to the state of Georgia during Black History Month. With over 25 years of dedicated service to the United States Air Force, Sen. Rhett embodies the true meaning of a dedicated public servant who has given the ultimate sacrifice to his country. It was an honor and a privilege to recognize such a distinguished individual who serves the citizens of Senate District 32 with wisdom and courage.

I would also like to take the time to provide you with an update on the progression of certain legislation in the House. Senate Bill 11, the “Georgia Fights Terrorism Act,” has been assigned to the House Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. As you well know, Public Safety has been a priority for the Majority Caucus and we will continue to work diligently to ensure the streets across Georgia are safe. Additionally, Senate Bill 12, the “Protecting Victims and Dismantling Georgia Street Gangs Act” has been assigned to the House Committee on Judiciary Non-Civil. I have high hopes that both bills will pass through their assigned committees in the coming days. Additionally, Senate Bill 3, the “Reducing Barriers to State Employment Act of 2023,” was assigned to the House Committee on Governmental Affairs, making its way one step closer into becoming law. Georgia flourishes with talent that often goes unrecognized, SB 3 provides greater opportunities for our workers and for the state of Georgia.

We have a full week of committee meetings and floor sessions ahead of us. I look forward to continuing to work alongside my fellow Senators as we quickly approach the home stretch to Sine Die. As always, if I can ever be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to reach out. It is an honor to serve you here in Atlanta.

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Sen. John Albers serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Safety. He represents the 56th Senate District which includes portions of Cherokee, Cobb and North Fulton counties. He may be reached at his office at 404.463.8055 or by email at [email protected]