Hickman: Weeks three and four Under the Gold Dome


As the third week of the 2024 Legislative Session comes to a close, I am eager to provide significant updates on the happenings under the Gold Dome. Last week was a busy one for us at the Capitol, as we delved into important discussions surrounding the state budget.

The Senate and House Committees on Appropriations engaged with various state agencies during our second week to allocate our state budget. The Georgia General Assembly is united in providing funding to essential areas such as public K-12 and higher education, public safety initiatives, bolstering foster care and adoption programs and well-deserved pay raises for state employees, including Georgia’s teachers.

While we may have had disagreements on other funding priorities, one principle unites us all – the understanding that this money belongs to the citizens of Georgia. We are diligently working to pass the most extensive tax cut in the state's history. We believe that Georgia’s citizens are better equipped to decide how their hard-earned money should be spent than any government entity.

Returning to the legislative floor this Monday, we tackled a wide range of bills that addressed critical issues from election integrity to public safety. Among these, House Bill 30 was a critical piece of legislation that defines antisemitism and designates it as a hate crime in Georgia. In the wake of the tragic attacks on October 7th, it is imperative that we stand united with our Jewish neighbors. I supported this landmark legislation for our state and appreciate Lt. Governor Burt Jones for prioritizing the measure. HB 30 received final passage through the General Assembly and will soon be signed into law by the Governor.

This week, I also had the privilege of addressing the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants. As the only CPA in the State Senate, I value these opportunities to engage with professionals dedicated to upholding financial integrity.

On Thursday, I had the privilege of meeting with students from the College and Career Academy of Candler County. It was both exciting and inspiring to learn about the future career goals of these bright students. Additionally on Thursday, I had the distinct honor of presenting a Senate Resolution commending Malcom Mitchell, former football player and author, for his tireless efforts to enhance literacy in our state. Malcolm’s dedication to this cause makes every Georgian proud to have such a passionate advocate for reading.

Looking back on our accomplishments so far, I am optimistic about the work that lies ahead in this legislative session. Your support and engagement are invaluable, and as always, I am here to assist you in any way possible.

Our fourth week under the Gold Dome has come to an end and I am eager to provide you with updates on the progress we achieved.

A significant milestone was reached yesterday, as Governor Brian P. Kemp signed House Bill 30 into law, which designating antisemitism as a hate crime. I wholeheartedly supported this necessary piece of legislation, and the overwhelming support from individuals of diverse backgrounds was truly uplifting. The Georgia General Assembly remains committed to eradicating hate and violence from our communities.

Election integrity remains a top priority for our legislature, and I'm excited to highlight the passage of House Bill 976 in the Georgia House. This legislation mandates the use of water-marked security paper for ballots in our voting systems, a critical step towards ensuring the utmost security in our electoral processes. Additional bills in the pipeline aim to eliminate QR codes, fortify security for mail-in ballots, and empower the State Board of Elections to investigate the Secretary of State’s office. These measures are vital as we strive to make Georgia's elections the safest in the nation ahead of the 2024 election.

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of joining the Georgia Public Broadcast show, Lawmakers, to discuss our ongoing efforts to enhance literacy in Georgia. As the #1 state to do business, we are determined to make Georgia the #1 state for literacy as well. Education is a cornerstone of our success, and we are dedicated to making meaningful strides in literacy improvement.

On another note, I had the pleasure of hosting many friends during Savannah Day at the Capitol later in the week. It provided a fantastic opportunity to showcase Savannah's economic triumphs in tourism, manufacturing, and distribution. Together, we celebrate the prosperity of our communities and work towards a brighter future for all.

I extend my gratitude for your support during this legislative session. Feel free to reach out if there's anything I can assist you with.

Sen. Billy Hickman serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Higher Education. He represents the 4th Senate District which includes Bulloch, Candler, Effingham, Evans, and a small portion of Chatham County. He may be reached at 404.463.1371 or via email at billy.hickman@senate.ga.gov.