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An Update From Under the Gold Dome: Week Nine

Friday, March 10, 2023

With week nine of the 2023 Legislative Session coming to an end, we move one step closer to Sine Die on March 29, the final day of session. My Senate colleagues and I remain studious in our endeavors to ensure all legislation is properly vetted and voted upon to improve the life of Georgians. Monday, March 6 marked the infamous Legislative Day 28, Crossover Day, which symbolizes the deadline to have legislation pass through the Senate Chamber in order to be voted upon in the House. On Crossover Day alone, we passed 50 measures to be voted upon in the House. In total, 54 measures were passed this week. I am pleased to provide you with updates on a few bills of note.

On Crossover Day, Senate Bill 217, passed in the Senate with bipartisan support. It was an honor to sponsor SB 217, which creates penalties for individuals who ‘ghost’ their license plates. I would like to give credit to my Senate Intern Shaun Cunningham who came up with this bill, spoke to the respective parties, worked diligently alongside Legislative Counsel to draft the bill and even testified on its behalf during the committee process. I always ask my interns to come up with great ideas and Cunningham did a phenomenal job every step of the way. SB 217 creates stiffer penalties for individuals who hide their license plate by adding a dark film or reflectors, making it harder for law enforcement to identify who the car belongs to. This can be incredibly dangerous and puts the safety of law enforcement and citizens at risk. Penalties will reflect the same standards as the penalties for DUI’s, sending a strong message to criminals that their antics will not be tolerated in our great state. On a similar note, Senate Bill 97, sponsored by Republican Caucus Chair Senator Jason Anavitarte (R – Dallas), was brought to the floor for a vote. This bill creates an agency that oversees the strategic planning, facilitation and coordination of information security in this state. The agency will have the ability to establish policies and standards for state agencies to submit information security plans to the division. Public safety is a priority and ensuring that Georgia’s information is secure is vital for our growth and the Republican Caucus’s promise to keep Georgia the best state to live in.

Additionally, House Bill 18, the revised 2022-2023 Fiscal Year Budget was renegotiated in the House and now awaits Governor Brian Kemp’s signature to codify it into law. Senate Appropriations Subcommittees are ramping up again to analyze House Bill 19, the Budget for the 2024 Fiscal Year. This week, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety met to receive testimony from a number of state agencies and officials as each presented their recommendations and requests to the committee. I have the distinct pleasure of chairing this committee and look forward to ensuring all taxpayer dollars are properly allocated to best fit the needs of all Georgians.

This week I felt as though it was important to address the violent outbursts coming from the new Atlanta Public Safety Training Center location. I utilized my point of personal privilege on Monday to condemn such violence. Over the weekend peaceful protests turned into riots. A group of people came out to seemingly protest peacefully before changing their clothes and storming the center to damage equipment and supplies. This cannot stand, this is not a Republican or Democrat issue. I certainly hope my friends from across the aisle share the same passion and conviction as I do on this issue. We must all condemn these heinous actions that are direct attacks on our police, and on the property that will allow additional training for our police, our fire, EMS and 911 operators. I know we can come together as a body and support law enforcement and put an end to this foolishness. Events like this are why bills such as Senate Bill 63 are so vital. My colleague and friend Senator Randy Robertson (R – Cataula), sponsored SB 63 which identifies domestic terrorism as a violent felony and creates strong setting of bonds and schedules of bails. SB 63 will be heard in the House Committee on Judiciary Non-Civil before it’s voted upon in the House chamber and makes its way to Governor Kemps’ desk to be codified into law.

As we quickly approach the home stretch to Sine Die I anticipate the Senate body will be diligently working and incredibly busy. Regardless, 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 Metro 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].