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Gold Dome Report – Legislative Day 4 (2024)
Thursday, January 11, 2024

After a slow trickle of policy and budget teases in recent days, Governor Brian Kemp opened the floodgates on Thursday, washing lawmakers and lobbyists over with his legislative proposals for the 2024 session. After delivering his sixth State of the State address that was equal parts criticizing the federal government, lauding Georgia’s principled governance, and spreading surplus cash around state government, the Office of Planning and Budget released the complete playbook — the Governor’s AFY2024 and FY2025 Budget Proposals. Those 420 pages should keep us all occupied for a while.

The only document more anticipated than the governor’s spending plans also arrived on the scene on Thursday. The Georgia House unveiled and adopted the long-awaited (at least since Monday) adjournment resolution, setting the legislature’s schedule for the remainder of the 2024 Legislative Session. The resolution, which still must be approved by the Senate, sets Crossover Day for February 29, and adjournment sine die is expected on March 28. The complete schedule, as well as more on the Governor’s State of the State address, is inside this #GoldDomeReport. 

In this Report:

  • Governor Kemp Delivers State of the State Address
  • House Adopts Calendar, Sets Sine Die for March 28
  • Committee Reports
  • New Legislation
  • What’s Next

Governor Kemp Delivers State of the State Address

Delivering his sixth State of the State address on Thursday, Governor Brian Kemp laid out a budget-heavy litany of his priorities for the 2024 Legislative Session. After kicking off his remarks with a hearty rebuke of Washington, D.C. politics and politicos, the governor got right down to detailing his spending plans with a few policy priorities sprinkled in.

Front and center among Governor Kemp’s proposals was his previously announced acceleration of a state income tax cut. The Governor gave notice that he would propose legislation to take the tax rate to 5.39% this year, resulting in a $3 billion savings for Georgians over 10 years. Notwithstanding this reduction in taxation, Kemp proposed an additional $1.4 billion in spending for K-12 education in his AFY2024 and FY2025 budgets, making a total of $12.8 billion allocated to K-12 education. This new spending includes $2,500 raises for educators, as well as $104 million in permanent, recurring funding for school safety enhancements.

Educators are not the only public employees in line for raises in the governor’s spending plans. Kemp also proposed $3,000 raises for the state’s law enforcement officers and 4% raises for all other state employees. In programmatic spending, the governor highlighted an infusion of $205 million for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities to expand mental health services, increase the number of crisis beds, and expand crisis intervention services. This additional funding brings the total annual state spending on mental health to $1.6 billion — an all-time record for Georgia.

Kemp’s remarks were not just limited to announcing budget windfalls. He also staked out positions on potentially-divisive policy issues heading into the 2024 election cycle. Most prominently, he called for legislators to support and pass school choice legislation this year, suggesting schools, like private businesses, can benefit from competition. Kemp also commended Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and reiterated his support for the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center. It was just a part of a larger love note to the state’s law enforcement officers and first responders, a refrain in each of his State of the State addresses to date. The governor also discussed more amorphous plans to continue the fight against human trafficking led by First Lady Marty Kemp, improve healthcare and mental health across the state, and continue the Georgia MATCH direct college admission initiative that debuted in 2023.

Immediately following Governor Kemp’s State of the State address, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget released his AFY2024 and FY2025 Budget Proposals. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees will meet next week to dive into those proposals, and we will have more analysis in future editions of the report.

House Adopts Calendar, Sets Sine Die for March 28

Per the Georgia Constitution, the Georgia General Assembly meets for 40 legislative days each year. Leadership from both chambers create the calendar, and last year was the first in memory where legislators set the entire calendar for all 40 days on Legislative Day 1. This year's calendar was unveiled on Thursday, and it is twelve weeks with Valentine's Day off and eight of the 12 Fridays off. The schedule, which was approved by the House on Thursday and is likely to be approved by the Senate on Friday, is as follows:

Monday, January 8 Legislative Day 1
Tuesday, January 9 Legislative Day 2
Wednesday, January 10 Legislative Day 3
Thursday, January 11 Legislative Day 4
Friday, January 12 Legislative Day 5
Monday, January 16-Friday, January 19 In Adjournment – Budget Hearings
Monday, January 22 Legislative Day 6
Tuesday, January 23 Legislative Day 7
Wednesday, January 24 Legislative Day 8
Thursday, January 25 Legislative Day 9
Friday, January 26 Legislative Day 10
Monday, January 29 Legislative Day 11
Tuesday, January 30 Legislative Day 12
Wednesday, January 31 Legislative Day 13
Thursday, February 1 Legislative Day 14
Friday, February 2 In Adjournment
Monday, February 5 Legislative Day 15
Tuesday, February 6 Legislative Day 16
Wednesday, February 7 Legislative Day 17
Thursday, February 8 Legislative Day 18
Friday, February 9 Legislative Day 19
Monday, February 12 Legislative Day 20
Tuesday, February 13 Legislative Day 21
Wednesday, February 14 In Adjournment
Thursday, February 15 Legislative Day 22
Friday, February 16 In Adjournment
Monday, February 19 In Adjournment
Tuesday, February 20 Legislative Day 23
Wednesday, February 21 Legislative Day 24
Thursday, February 22 Legislative Day 25
Friday, February 23 In Adjournment
Monday, February 26 Legislative Day 26
Tuesday, February 27 Legislative Day 27
Wednesday, February 28 In Adjournment - Committee Work Day
Thursday, February 29 Legislative Day 28 - Crossover Day
Friday, March 1 In Adjournment
Monday, March 4 Legislative Day 29
Tuesday, March 5 Legislative Day 30
Wednesday, March 6 In Adjournment - Committee Work Day
Thursday, March 7 Legislative Day 31
Friday, March 8 Legislative Day 32
Monday, March 11 Legislative Day 33
Tuesday, March 12 In Adjournment - Committee Work Day
Wednesday, March 13 Legislative Day 34
Thursday, March 14 Legislative Day 35
Friday, March 15 In Adjournment
Monday, March 18 Legislative Day 36
Tuesday, March 19 In Adjournment - Committee Work Day
Wednesday, March 20 Legislative Day 37
Thursday, March 21 Legislative Day 38
Friday, March 22 In Adjournment
Monday, March 25 In Adjournment - Committee Work Day
Tuesday, March 26 Legislative Day 39
Wednesday, March 27 In Adjournment
Thursday, March 28 Legislative Day 40 - Sine Die!

Committee Reports

Senate Regulated Industries Committee

Chairman Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) called the Senate Committee to order to hear two measures:

  • HB 455, authored by Representative John LaHood (R-Valdosta), amends Chapter 1 of Title 43 of the O.C.G.A. relating to healthcare professional burnout. The measure creates a safe haven for healthcare workers to seek counseling. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation and will be carried by Senator John Albers (R-Roswell).
  • SB 205, authored by Senator Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville), amends Part 3 of Article 1 of Chapter 18 of Title 43 of the O.C.G.A. relating to funeral home and embalmer licensing. It would allow funeral directors who have allowed their license to lapse and have not had any disciplinary action to renew their license. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation.

Senate Public Safety Committee

Senator John Albers (R-Roswell) called the Senate Public Safety Committee to order. He introduced the staff, and Policy Analyst Austin Bryson provided an overview of the committee's purview. The committee has general jurisdiction relating to the safety of Georgians and includes motor vehicle safety, fire protection and safety, law enforcement agencies, school bus safety, firearm safety, firework safety, rules of the road, the Department of Public Safety, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Chairman Albers explained how a couple of Senators had been “swatted” during the holiday season and how dangerous it is. Senator Randy Robertson (R-Catuala) detailed his work over the interim with the county jails. Senator Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville) had an interest in school zone cameras without flashing lights and photographs.

House Judiciary Committee

Chairman Stan Gunter (R-Blairsville) called the Judiciary Committee to order to discuss three measures:

  • HB 456, authored by Chairman Gunter, amends Title 36 of the O.C.G.A. relating to municipal court judges. The measure extends the minimum term of services to two terms from the date of appointment and adds to the process of removing a judge. The measure received a DO PASS recommendation.
  • HB 368, authored by Representative Chris Erwin (R-Homer), amends Title 15 of the O.C.G.A. regarding the Piedmont and Mountain Judicial Circuit. The measure would move Banks County from the Piedmont Judicial Circuit to the Mountain Judicial Circuit. Senator Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia) also came to speak in favor of the bill. Concerns were raised over precedent setting and how counties move circuits. The measure passed and will move forward to the House Rules Committee.
  • HB 370, authored by Representative Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah), amends Title 23 relating to coastal marshland and king grants. A substitute was presented. No action was taken on the measure. 

New Legislation

The following new legislation of interest has been introduced in the House:

H.B.897 Medical Freedom Act; enact Rep. Jordan Ridley (R-022) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/65986
H.B.899 School Violence Reduction and Safety Act; enact Rep. Viola Davis (D-087) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/65988
H.B.900 Quality Basic Education Act; Refugee and International Students Equalization (RISE) program; establish Rep. Viola Davis (D-087) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/65989
H.B.904 Professions and businesses; contractors; change certain provisions Rep. Kenneth "Ken" Vance (R-133) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/65994
H.B.909 Georgia Bureau of Investigation; restriction and seal of First Offenders Act; provide Rep. Leesa Hagan (R-156) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66000
H.B.910 Minors; civil remedy for damages against commercial entities that distribute material harmful to minors without performing age verification; create Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-011) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66001
H.B.913 EmPATH Georgia Act; enact Rep. Imani Barnes (D-086) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66004
H.B.914 Safe Teens Act; enact Rep. Imani Barnes (D-086) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66012
H.R.770 Board of Regents; nursing course credit to students who receive military education and training as combat medic; urge Rep. Sandra Scott (D-076) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/65993
H.R.778 Public Health, Department of; identify funding for research to improve our understanding of disease pathology and treatments for autoimmune diseases; urge Rep. Kim Schofield (D-063) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/65996

The following new legislation of interest has been introduced in the Senate:

S.B.349 Ad Valorem Taxation of Property; setting of millage rates; revise provisions Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-052) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66016
S.B.350 Sale of Consumable Hemp Products; individuals under the age of 21 years; prohibit Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R-032) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66017
S.B.351 "Protecting Georgia's Children on Social Media Act of 2024"; enact Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-031) https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66023

What’s Next

The General Assembly will reconvene for Legislative Day 5 on Friday, Jan. 12 at 9:00 a.m.

See our coverage of Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3


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