Update from the Capitol: Week 4

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This session is moving quickly, and this week, we saw progress with the Amended Fiscal Year 2021 (AFY 21) budget and important bills were filed and passed through the Senate. I am committed to keeping my constituents updated on all the happenings in the Senate, so it is my pleasure to tell you about this week’s highlights.

On Monday, the Senate Ethics Committee, of which I serve as Chairman, held its first meeting of the year. It is no secret that elections reform legislation will play a big role throughout this session and, more often than not, elections bills are assigned to the Ethics Committee. In fact, 17 bills have already been assigned to our committee, with many more potentially headed our way soon. Our first meeting was informative, as we heard an update from the Secretary of State’s Office who described our current elections process and how certain aspects (such as absentee voting, ballot drop boxes, and voter ID requirements) were handled during the November 2020 election from a technical standpoint. This briefing will set the stage for the elections reform legislation we will consider, likely beginning next week. I know that this topic is of great importance to our district, so I will be sure to keep you updated on our progress. 

This week the Senate passed its first few bills of the year. While these bills all addressed important issues like the economic impact of tax credits and more, I want to focus on Senate Bill 9. SB 9 would create a new judicial circuit, called the Columbia Judicial Circuit, to be housed in Columbia County. This bill was necessary due to the extraordinary case load judges in the Augusta Judicial Circuit had to contend with and, once signed into law, will end up expediting the criminal justice process and even has the potential to create cost savings. I am pleased that this bipartisan proposal passed the Senate unanimously. SB 9 will now work its way through the committee process in the House. 

One of the largest tasks we take on as a legislative body each session is passing the supplemental budget for the current fiscal year. This process is time consuming and can be tedious, but is our duty as legislators to pass a balanced budget that will benefit all Georgians. I am pleased to tell you that the supplemental budget for 2021 has worked its way through the proper subcommittees and received approval by the full Senate Appropriations Committee. I expect the budget bill to be on the floor next week for a full Senate vote. A crucial piece of the supplemental budget is the provision of $20 million toward rural broadband funding in Georgia. Unreliable internet service in rural Georgia disadvantages students and workers that reside in those areas, including portions of our district. This funding will get Georgia one step closer to addressing this issue.

As the 2021 Legislative Session progresses, I encourage you to reach out to my office if you have any questions for me or issues you would like to discuss. It is my honor to serve and represent the 23rd District. Every decision that I make under the Gold Dome is fueled by my desire to create positive changes in our District and in Georgia as a whole. Thank you for your continued support, I hope you know that I strive every day to return that support.

Sen. Max Burns serves as Chairman of the Ethics Committee. He represents the 23rd Senate District, which includes Burke, Glascock, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson, McDuffie, Screven, and Warren counties and portions of Columbia, Emanuel and Richmond counties. He may be reached by emailing max.burns@senate.ga.gov.

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