We have officially reached the halfway point of the 2023 Legislative Session as Thursday marked Legislative Day 20 under the Gold Dome. The Senate has been hard at work continuing to pass important and needed legislation to better the lives of all Georgians as a total of 17 bills are now on their way to the House for consideration. I am pleased to bring you a number of updates on legislation that I am sponsoring.
Crime continues to invade our state, threatening the lives of all Georgians on a daily basis. It is estimated that somewhere between 70 to 90% of all violent crimes within our state is committed by a criminal gangs. More often than not, these repeat and violent offenders will target Georgia’s most vulnerable victims and even Georgia’s children. There is no instance in which Gov. Kemp, First Lady Kemp, or the Georgia General Assembly for that matter will tolerate any form of violence within our state. Drastic steps must be taken to tackle this ongoing concern and Senate Bill 11 serves as a mechanism to do just that. SB 11, also known as the “Georgia Fights Terrorism Act,” would authorize the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to work both independently or concurrently with other law enforcement agencies on cases involving the identification, investigation, arrest, and prosecution of an individual or groups of individuals for violation of laws concerning domestic, cyber, biological, chemical, and nuclear terrorism.
On that same note, Senate Bill 12, known as the “Protecting Victims and Dismantling Georgia Street Gangs Act,” would revise the punishment for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon or first offender probationer when the predicate felony was a forcible felony or a felony involving domestic violence. Specifically, SB 12 would revise the punishment for the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon or a domestic violent felon by increasing the sentence from one to 10 years to five to 10 years. SB 12 also establishes a legislative declaration on gangs in Georgia to identify this problem and allow both criminal and civil action to take place in order to crack down on gangs. Every year we have sadly seen a huge increase in gang activity in Georgia, therefore this is much needed real criminal justice reform. These bills will prioritize the victims and public safety officials over the criminals and I am pleased to see both measures pass in the Senate with bipartisan support.
In addition, the Senate took up legislation to address growing concerns with the Communist Chinese Government through Senate Bill 93. Sponsored by my colleague and Senate Majority Caucus Chair Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R – Dallas), SB 93 seeks to combat this ongoing standoff with China as it relates to the use of certain social media platforms like TikTok. SB 93 would ban the use of social media platforms monitored by foreign adversaries on state issued devices. Numerous cyber security and national intelligence officials have identified TikTok as a significant espionage threat. State officials would be doing the citizens of Georgia a great disservice by utilizing the platform on their state issued phones. The potential threat should outweigh any viral sensation. This common sense bill would ensure our state’s technological infrastructure is safe and secure. This legislation passed with bipartisan support.
I am also pleased to report that Senate Bill 149, known as the “Georgia Door-To-Door Sales Act,” was favorably reported out of the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries and Utilities on Thursday. This legislation ensures that consumers are protected from unfair business practices, especially in the place they should feel the most secure, in their homes. As I have previously mentioned, SB 149 is designed to implement comment sense protections against deceptive or misleading business dealing from door-to-door sales. SB 149 now awaits assignment from the Senate Rules Committee. I look forward to bringing this legislation to the Senate floor for a final vote.
Also this week, I introduced Senate Bill 170, known as the “Students and Teachers SPEAK Act.” This legislation is a product of a growing concern that was brought to my attention by a student in Senate District 56. SB 170 would allow for both teachers and students to serve as ex officio advisors to the State Board of Education. Concurrently, SB 170 seeks to encourage local school boards to invite student representatives to serve as advisors to the boards. Students and teachers should have ample opportunities to be a voice at the table when it comes to discusses that will directly impact them, hence the “speak” portion of this legislation. While we are immensely appreciative and thankful for the dedicated leaders who represent Georgia’s local school boards, having firsthand accounts of ways in which Georgia schools and be improved could prove to be extremely useful. As I have often mentioned, education serves as the backbone of Georgia’s future and its continued success. Therefore, we must do all that is necessary to continue to uphold that reputation. SB 170 has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Education and Youth. I look forward to working alongside Chairman Dixon and all stakeholders to perfect this legislation and bring it across the finish line before March 29th.
Next week, the Senate will convene Tuesday through Thursday for legislative days 21 through 23. I anticipate House Bill 18, the Amended 2023 Fiscal Year Budget will make its way to the Senate Appropriations Committee for final consideration before it awaits selection from the Senate Rules Committee. I look forward to continuing to provide you with updates as we progress. As always, do not hesitate to reach out to my office if you have any questions or concerns about legislation. I am here to serve you.
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]