3/26/2018 - Report from the Capitol from Representative Rick Jasperse
We have completed Legislative Day 38, and with the end of the 40-day legislative session in sight, my House colleagues and I continued to work thoughtfully in our respective committees and also passed several key bills and resolutions on behalf of our constituents and all Georgians. It is a tense time in the capitol with legislator’s personal work on the line and the possibility of your bill not passing both chambers. There are lots of important bills still to be voted on and in the end everyone usually works together and does the right thing for our state.
On Monday, March 19, I was proud that both Republicans and Democrats passed a Resolution I have been working on. The Resolution that the House unanimously adopted would allow us to examine how to best protect our state’s schools. House Resolution 1414 would create the House Study Committee on School Security to study ways to curb incidences of violence, facilitate life-saving responses and provide safer learning environments for Georgia’s students, teachers and other school personnel. The study committee would explore the conditions, needs and issues associated with school security and would recommend any action or legislation it deems necessary based on its findings. The nine-member study committee would hold five hearings to discuss methods to decrease incidents of school violence, as well as how to best respond when such incidents occur. Any findings or suggestions for proposed legislation would be filed by Dec. 1, 2018, when the study committee would be abolished. This resolution was adopted by the House in the wake of one of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history, and it more critical than ever that we study how to best protect Georgia’s students, teachers and school staff. I look forward to learning about practical and effective solutions to this important issue this summer and fall.
The House passed Senate Bill 139, another piece of legislation that is designed to benefit of our state’s students. SB 139 would allow local school systems, charter schools and college and career academies to develop and submit new pathways, or focused programs of study. Several focused programs of study currently exist, including finance, information technology, health science and manufacturing, and any new pathways would be submitted to the State Board of Education for consideration. SB 139 would also require the State Workforce Development Board, with input from the Department of Education and the Technical College System of Georgia, to develop and promote an annual list of industry credentials and state licenses, such as welding or computer certifications, that students can earn in school.
This week, the House adopted a resolution that seeks to help our brave veterans smoothly transition from military service to civilian life. House Resolution 1137 urges the president and Congress to enact federal legislation that would provide members of the armed forces with mental and physical health assistance prior to being discharged from the armed forces. Providing necessary support resources to our service members before they return to nonmilitary life could help them avoid some of the challenges many veterans face, and this proactive assistance would allow soldiers to be restored physically and mentally before returning to society.
We also passed Senate Bill 331 to better protect the identities of those lucky folks who win big playing the Georgia lottery. Under SB 331, the Georgia Lottery Corporation would be required to keep all information on lottery winners of $250,000 or more confidential upon the winner’s written request. Lottery winners are often targets of scams, and several people have tragically died after winning the lottery.
The House also passed a measure this week that would ensure our state’s citizens with dementia-related diseases are best cared for. Senate Bill 444, or the “Senator Thorborn ‘Ross’ Tolleson, Jr., Act,” would establish the Georgia Alzheimer's and Related Dementias State Plan Advisory Council to advise the governor, the General Assembly, the Department of Human Services and all other state agencies on the state’s Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Plan. The council would ensure that the state’s focus remains on implementing and amending the goals of the state plan, which was created to determine Georgia’s ability to meet the growing needs of our state’s citizens with dementia and to present a plan to meet those needs. Under SB 444, the council would recommend strategies to reach the state plan’s goals. This advisory council would play a critical role in offering strategies on Georgia’s delivery of dementia-related services, and these services serve as vital resources to our state’s citizens with Alzheimer’s and related diseases, as well as their families.
Finally, we addressed an issue we all know is important to the growth of our state; Internet Connectivity. The House passed Senate Bill 402, the “Achieving Connectivity Everywhere (ACE) Act,” which would lay the groundwork for expanding broadband services throughout the state by promoting public-private partnerships. Under the ACE Act, the Georgia Technology Authority would be authorized to create any programs or policies needed to coordinate statewide broadband implementation efforts. SB 402 will work to ensure that all Georgians, and particularly our state’s rural citizens, have access to a reliable, high-speed Internet connection.
Next week is the final week of the 2018 legislative session, and the Georgia General Assembly will adjourn sine die on Thursday, March 29.We still have to finish the most important thing we do in the legislature; create a balanced budget. We also have to finish other important issues many of you have contacted me about. . This final legislative week will surely be the busiest week of the entire session, and I urge you to always contact me if you have any questions, concerns or input on any measures being considered in either the House or the Senate. I can be reached at my Capitol office at 404-656-7859, or by email at email@example.com.
I appreciate that you have giving me the opportunity to be your Representative and that you have trusted me to work hard on the many issues we have addressed this year.