2016 Capitol Update Week 5 – Halfway Home

We have completed the fifth week of the 2016 Session at the Georgia General Assembly and reached legislative day 20 – the half-way mark. Both the House and Senate are sending legislation to the other body and committees continue to debate the various measures. This week the House passed several pieces of legislation with strong bipartisan support.

HB 739 Transparency in Education Instruction Materials

            This bill provides the State Board of Education an option to establish a committee to consider and recommend instructional materials and content for elementary and secondary education. Further, local boards of education will have a review process for locally approved materials. As a co-sponsor of this bill, I am gratified it passed the House by a vote of 165 – 3 and will provide greater local control and increased parental involvement in our children’s education. I voted YES.

HB 659 Transparency in Education Financial Information
            The House unanimously passed HB 659 requiring each local board of education and state charter school to make financial information available for public access.  Each system must also furnish budget information to the Georgia Department of Education, where the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement will compile the information and post the data including capital investments, salaries, property tax revenues and other important financial ratios. I voted YES .

HB 757 Pastor Protection Act
            Another unanimous vote in the House brought potentially divergent views together as HB 757  passed without objection. The Pastor Protection Act reaffirms the separation of church and state in Georgia assuring that members of the clergy will not be required to perform ceremonies in violation of their faith. The bill further protects places of worship from government mandates regarding hosting events that violate their religious doctrines. I voted YES .

Also on the floor this week
            The House unanimously passed HB 767 and HB 821 as well. HB 767 adds utility service workers to the Move Over law originally adopted in 2003 for public safety personnel and expanded last session to include sanitation workers. HB 821 reduces regulatory burdens on military spouses and veterans when seeking state licensure for various professions. I voted YES  on both.

Next week
            I authored and will present HB 592 to the House to reduce regulatory burdens on Georgia engineers and improve our competitive position with regard to Structural Engineers.
            HB 34 the Georgia Right to Try Act would permit those with advanced and terminal illnesses the ability to try various medications and/or therapies that may have not received FDA approval.

Committee Meetings
Both the House and Senate are now actively considering bills – both remaining from last year as well as newly introduced legislation. You may view the meeting schedules online as well as watch many of the meetings live via your computer.
Live Video from both Chambers

Let me hear from you
As always, I remain appreciative that you allow me to serve as your state Representative.  I encourage you to contact me with any comments or questions you have about the legislation being considered at the state Capitol.   You can reach me at my Capitol office at 404-656-0254 or on my cell at 404-966-5804 or via email at brett.harrell@house.ga.gov.
Thanks for allowing me to serve,