Andrew Allison, Acting Director
Kessarin Horvath, Sr. Communications Associate
Week Three Highlights
By: Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia)
Senate members joined back under the Gold Dome this week for five days of chamber sessions and committee meetings. The Appropriations Committees are still hard at work adapting a formalized general budget for Fiscal Year 2021, and we are being as diligent and conscientious as possible when determining how your hard-earned dollars will be used. This process will last our entire session. We are also hard at work on the Senate floor and in committee meetings to make sure the bills we introduce have your best interests in mind.
On the Senate floor this week, we began discussions on one of the first bills to pass through the Senate Rules Committee this year, House Bill 444. HB 444 helps preserve one of our state’s exceptional programs, Dual Enrollment. Through the program, the state has incentivized entrance into technical and highly skilled worker sectors. It has produced ingenious thinkers, innovators and entrepreneurs. However, in some areas it got abused. The state paid for classes that were not helping students earn high demand jobs; we even paid for Zumba classes! In order to make the program sustainable and return its focus to high demand job fields, HB 444 placed guardrails on college and technical classes high school students may take. Specifically, by limiting total hours and class offerings to core classes (think math, science, etc.) or one of several hundred technical college classes including computer science, mechanics, plumbing, CDL’s, electrical maintenance and welding.
Aside from the conversations we had as a whole, the Senate also broke off into small working groups to start the first of many regular committee meetings. One bill that was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee was House Bill 230, which would create a new category of corporations in Georgia – “benefit corporations.” Benefit corporations, in short, are companies that have voted on a public benefit statement or purpose to encompass their work. This can be a charitable donation, some means of an environmental impact, or so on and so forth. While this would create no changes to current tax benefits, I am a little apprehensive about the idea and its impact on the individual sovereignty of our employees and shareholders. If one owns a significant amount of stock in a company, they can elect that organization to become a benefit corporation; however, there are no remedies for you if you are a minority shareholder and a company elects a purpose that is against your individual beliefs. I think, in many cases, this bill can cause a possible loophole for a corporate takeover of a classic C corporation.
I have also signed onto a couple bills this week, including Senate Bill 309 and Senate Bill 313. Senate Bill 309, titled the Georgia Municipal and Local Government Infrastructure Finance Authority Act, would create two organizations on both the municipal and county level to help fund broadband network projects. Broadband accessibility and affordability has been one of my top priorities ever since I was elected and I am glad to see the Senate making headway on increasing coverage to rural areas. Senate Bill 313 would revise the regulating and licensing of pharmacy benefits managers to help lower prescription drug prices. It’s all about providing Georgians every opportunity to excel. I also signed Senate Resolution 588 urging the Board of Regents to reduce tuition by 4%, which is in line with Governor Kemp’s proposed budget cuts.
As always, please reach out if you have any questions or concerns about the legislation being introduced or discussed. My job is to make sure you feel like the Senate sees you, hears you and most importantly, understands you. It is a privilege to be here today and I look forward to the rest of session.
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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.