We returned to Capitol Hill on Monday, March 29 for the final two days of the 2021 legislative session. The last day of session, Legislative Day 40, is commonly referred to as “Sine Die,” which is a Latin term meaning “without assigning a day for further meeting.” On Sine Die, we worked until shortly after midnight to ensure that significant legislation had every chance to be considered this year.
Before adjourning Sine Die, the House fulfilled its only constitutional obligation by adopting the conference committee report on House Bill 81, the state’s Fiscal Year 2022 (FY 2022) budget. This budget for the next fiscal year begins July 1, 2021, and is set by a revenue estimate $27.2 billion, which is an increase of $1.34 billion, or 5.2 percent, over the original Fiscal Year 2021 budget that was passed last June. The state’s fiscal position has exceeded expectations since last year, and as a result, we were able to allocate approximately 90 percent of the new revenue for the FY 2022 budget to Georgia’s education and health and human services agencies. The upcoming fiscal year budget also restores 60 percent of the reductions made to K-12 education, as well as preserves and increases funding for our other top priorities, such as expanded mental health core and crisis intervention services, rate increases for health and human service providers, access to health care and salary increases for critical state workforce positions. The Governor will now review the budget bill before signing it into law.
The House also voted to give final approval to several other important bills this week, including House Bill 146, which would extend paid parental leave to many of our valuable state employees.
House Bill 479 that will repeal Georgia’s antiquated citizen’s arrest law, also received final passage on Sine Die. In addition to repealing citizen’s arrest, HB 479 would clarify certain instances in which law enforcement officers may make arrests outside of their jurisdiction, as well as authorize retail stores, food service establishments, and certain licensed private security professionals to detain someone if they reasonably believe an individual is committing a crime.
We also gave final passage to Senate Bill 195 to increase the responsibilities of the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission and allow licensed low THC oil producers to partner with universities and colleges, such as Georgia’s historically black colleges and universities, for joint medical research.
House Bill 154 also received final approval and would reform several of Georgia’s adoption and foster care laws, including lowering the age at which a person is allowed to petition for adoption from 25 to 21 years old.
Senate Bill 156 will create the office of the chief labor officer within the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) to provide timely reports and responses to financial audits of the department, as well as assist with inquiries from members of the Georgia legislature. The position would be repealed on December 31, 2022. This bill will also require the GDOL commissioner to submit weekly reports to House and Senate leadership regarding unemployment claims.
Now that the 2021 legislative session has come to an end, the Governor will begin reviewing all legislation that received final passage in the House and Senate. The governor can sign or veto legislation over the next 40 days, and any legislation that has not been signed or vetoed will automatically become law. With this session behind us, I will be spending more time in our district, where I look forward to continuing to serve you and your family. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions regarding bills that passed this session or suggestions for future legislation.
I remain dedicated to serving your interests as your state representative, and I hope that you will contact me with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the legislative session or with any proposals or recommendations for future legislation.
You can also stay in touch by visiting our website at www.house.ga.gov to watch a live stream of the House in action, as well as archived committee meetings, and review legislation that we are considering. Follow me on Facebook for updates throughout the year. Thank you for allowing me to be your representative.