Andrew Allison, Acting Director
Kessarin Horvath, Sr. Communications Associate
Week Nine Highlights
By: Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia)
This week in the Georgia Senate was certainly a memorable one. First, it included the always busy and hectic “Crossover Day,” the last day by which a bill must pass at least one chamber of the legislature to remain viable for passage this year. Second, it included the first (to my knowledge) postponement of the legislative session. More on that topic later.
Before the legislature postponed, several matters of interest to our area made it through the Senate:
- HB 792 – the Amended 2020 Budget received final passage. I discussed this over the past few weeks, so I won’t rehash plowed soil. The Senate was able to restore many cuts to human services, including the Department of Family and Children’s Services and Family Connections. This bill received final passage just before Crossover Day
- SR 459 – strongly requests individuals tell the truth when testifying before the Senate and establishes a ban from giving future testimony if you were found to have lied
- SB 344 – allows health insurers to provide coverage for early prescription refills during a declared emergency
- SB 384 – protects the Satilla River area from landfill construction within 3 miles of high-water mark due to the sensitivity of this area’s ecosystem and soil, passed the Senate
- SB 386 – expands the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act
- SB 482 – establishes the Georgia All-Payer Claims Database and creates an advisory committee to further improve transparency in healthcare
- SB 430 – would allow home school and private school students to enroll in courses at college and career academies.
Several other measures failed, including a constitutional amendment clarifying that only citizens can vote in Georgia elections. Constitutional amendments need 2/3rds vote of the legislature to pass, so though over half the Senate voted in favor of the measure, this provision failed to receive the 2/3rds votes necessary to pass a constitutional amendment along a party-line vote. We also secured $2 million in Economic Development Growth and Expansion grant funding to assist with the location of a facility for Guidoni USA, Inc. at the old Husqvarna plant in Telfair County.
I apologize for the departure of this column from its usual length, but please know there is a reason. As you are likely now aware, the Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House have postponed the legislative session pursuant to an adjournment resolution passed early Thursday, March 12, 2020, giving them the power to do so for healthcare emergencies. At the time of my writing, we do not know how long this postponement will last. This is an unprecedented event, but it was also one for which plans had long been in place in order to protect the public. The Capitol welcomes over 6,000 people daily, with visitors coming from all over our state. These facts make the Capitol one of the largest potential spreaders of any virus, particularly one as contagious as COVID-19 has proven to be. These data points made the postponement of the legislative session a necessary and proactive precaution against the further spread of disease. Information concerning this issue is literally changing hourly. I’ve heard every rumor, from the legislature reconvening on Monday to the legislature adjourning Sine Die (the end) and returning in June for a special session to complete the budget, potentially with a new and lowered revenue estimate. At this time, no decision on this topic has been made. The Governor and the legislature are singularly focused on keeping Georgians safe. We can figure out how to finish the legislative session once lives are protected. Unprecedented times seem to fan the flames of rumors. I encourage you during this time to focus on separating fact from fiction and choose reason over hysteria. We know our strongest protections are to wash our hands frequently and avoid crowds where viruses can spread quickly, particularly if we are over 60 or have pre-existing respiratory issues.
I will do my best to keep you informed during this time period. As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call. My cell number is still 912-245-9915 and my email is email@example.com.
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Sen. Blake Tillery serves as a Governor’s Administration Floor Leader. He represents the 19th Senate District, which includes Appling, Jeff Davis, Long, Montgomery, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne, and Wheeler counties and a portion of Liberty and Tattnall counties. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.