07 March 2016

Week Eight Under the Gold Dome

Rick JeffaresBy: Sen. Rick Jeffares (R – McDonough)

Crossover Day is now behind us as we wrap up days 30 and 31 of the 2016 legislative session. We had a short week, but that didn’t stop us from passing a significant amount of legislation. We are also eager to begin working our way through bills passed out of the House, a task that will keep us busy for the rest of the session.

Monday was the day we’ve been anticipating all session: Crossover Day. Crossover Day was long, but gave us the opportunity to pass over twenty bills in a single day. We heard, debated and voted on bills focused on a wide range of topics from making our schools safer and more efficient for our students, to reducing or eliminated certain taxes and increasing economic opportunities for businesses in our state.

Senate Bill 6 requires immigrants with lawful alien status to carry a special driver’s privilege card. This card is not to be used for identification purposes, but only as a permit to drive a vehicle. The bill also allows for the creation of a new special identification card for those with legal alien status which is noticeably different from a typical driver’s license.

The Student Protection Act, or SB 355, would call on the State Board of Education or local school systems to find alternative policies for students who don’t participate in standardized tests, and address policies such as such as “sit and stare.” Under this bill, students would not be required to take state mandated standardized tests if they are suffering from a life-threatening illness. The bill also allows students to have access to paper and pencil versions of standardized tests at the request of the student or their parent.

Senate Bill 404 allows certain uniformed police officers to use their Department of Public Safety issued vehicles when working an off-duty job which requires vested police powers. However, it is up to the Commissioner of Public Safety to approve or deny the use of a DPS vehicle for any such job. Legislation such as this makes it easier for Georgia’s hard working law enforcement officers to provide for their families and I am happy to say that it passed through the Senate Chamber.
We also passed several constitutional amendments which would require approval from voters in the fall.

They include:

  • SR 604 eliminates the state Ad Valorem tax, effective January 1, 2017.
  • SR 675 establishes English as the official language of Georgia in the state constitution.
  • SR 756 provides for the reduction of state individual income tax as long as the state’s general fund stands at or over $23.6 billion and the state’s reserve fund is at least eight percent of that amount.
  • SR 388 allows public funds to be allocated to religious or faith-based organizations which perform social services for the community.
We only have nine legislative days remaining in the 2016 legislative session. These last few weeks we’ll be kept busy with the House bills transferred to the Senate on Crossover Day. If you ever have any questions, comments or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office. I always look forward to hearing from my constituents in District 17.

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Sen. Rick Jeffares serves as Chairman of the Regulates Industries Committee.  He represents the 17th Senate District which includes portions of Henry, Rockdale and Newton counties.  He may be reached by phone at 404.463.1376 or by email at rick.jeffares@senate.ga.gov.

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