Newton County Art Series has some wonderful upcoming programs. Please visit their
to take advantage of all they have to offer!
featuring Oxford Singing Children
April 14, 7pm
April 16, 2pm
Newton High School
SHREK the MUSICAL
featuring Oxford Youth Singers
April 15 & 16, 7pm
April 17, 3pm
Now that the 2016 legislative session has ended, I thought I would share with you some highlights from the session. The bills that passed both the House and Senate are currently in the hands of Governor Deal. As stipulated in our state constitution, the governor has 40 days to sign or veto the legislation. This means any bill or resolution the governor has not vetoed by Tuesday, May 3, 2016, will become state law in the coming months.
Of all of the legislation passed by the General Assembly this session, one of the most important was House Bill 751, which establishes the state budget for Fiscal Year 2017 and received final, overwhelming approval during the last week of session. As the only piece of legislation we are constitutionally required to pass each session, the Fiscal Year 2017 budget will guide all state spending from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017.
We were able to fund a number of priorities, including: rate increases for health and human service providers; salary adjustments for K-12 teachers, Pre-K teachers, bus drivers, nutrition workers and school nurses; and salary increases for public health nurses, sworn law enforcement officers and other critical positions to address retention issues. HB 751 appropriates more than half of the annual budget for education spending, where local school boards will not only be able to give salary increases, but will also have the ability to eliminate furlough days or increase classroom instruction days for education.
The final version of HB 751 also adds important funding for public safety, healthcare, and transportation initiatives throughout Georgia, all while keeping our state's total debt low, our "rainy day funds" high, and maintaining our AAA bond rating.
I am honored to serve the 113th district as your legislator, and to be a part of the House Education, Game, Fish, and Parks, Judiciary Non-Civil, Juvenile Justice, Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment, and State Planning & Community Affairs Committees.
For updates throughout the year, please be sure to visit my Facebook page on a regular basis and follow me on Twitter.
Please feel free to contact me. Sincerely,
I can also be reached at 678.207.6043.
Representative Pam Dickerson
2016 General Assembly Final Wrap Up
While I am proud of much of the work we completed this year, I am concerned about the following bills:
HB 757 Religious Liberty VETOED BY GOVERNOR
Gov. Nathan Deal responded to concerns from the religious community, the civil rights community, and the business community, vetoing the legislation on March 28. While religious liberty legislation is stopped for 2016, it is sure to be back in some form next year.
This is the combined Pastor Protection Act and First Amendment Defense Act. The PPA would clarify that preachers can't be forced to perform gay weddings, that religious organizations can't be forced to rent their facilities for ceremonies they disagree with, and that local governments can't, by ordinance, force businesses to be open on Saturday or Sunday.
FADA would prohibit government from affecting people's or organization's' tax status, public funding, professional licensure, or other public benefits if they discriminate based on sincerely held religious belief regarding lawful marriage between two people, including the belief that marriage should only be between a man and a woman or that sex should be confined to marriage.
It also contains a version of last year's RFRA that would allow companies and individuals to opt out of generally applicable laws based on religious beliefs.
HB 859 - Campus Carry
HB 859 allows a Georgia firearms license holder to keep their weapon on their person while in or on any building or real property owned by or leased to any technical school, vocational school, college, university, or other institution of post-secondary education. This exception will not apply to buildings or property used for athletic events or student housing including sorority and fraternity houses and only applies to the carrying of handguns which are concealed. I will update you on the action of the Governor when it occurs.
HB 792 - The Campus Taser Bill
HB 792 would allow anyone at any post-secondary education institutions to carry electroshock weapons (i.e. stun gun or taser) on campus. The bill requires the use of that weapon to be only in self-defense or the defense of another.
Some bills good for Georgia:
SB 18 Prior Learning Course Credit
This legislation would have encouraged the Board of Regents, and required the Technical College System, to create policies or programs that award credit for college level learning that students have acquired prior to school through their military, work experience, service in the community, or independent study.
SB 304 Eliminate Automatic Purge of Involuntary Commitments from GCIC
This legislation would end the automatic purge of involuntary psychiatric commitment records over five years old from the Georgia Crime Information Center so that the information would remain available for firearm background checks.
This bill passed on HB 1060.
SB 304 Rape Kit Handling and Storage
This legislation would require that any time a rape victim wants to turn medical evidence (rape kit) over for prosecution that the hospital provide it to law enforcement within 96 hours. Law enforcement would have 30 days to turn the rape kits over to the GBI for testing.
Anyone who performed a rape examination where the victim want the information turned over for prosecution before July 1, 2016 would notify law enforcement, and law enforcement would be required to pick up the rape kits by July 31, 2016 to be submitted by August 31, 2016. Law enforcement would prepare a report of all rape kits in its possession as of August 1, 2016.
The GBI forensic division would issue an annual report detailing the number of tested and pending cases. This language is from HB 560.
SB 367 Criminal Justice Reform
This legislation is the annual Criminal Justice Reform Commission Bill. It makes sweeping improvements to how we treat people going through the criminal justice system by expanding accountability courts to handle DUI as juvenile cases. It would
protect students going through school discipline proceedings. It would improve the records sealing process for people who successfully complete first offender and accountability court programs. It would provide uniformity to misdemeanor probation hearings and revocation. It would give early parole to some nonviolent drug offenders serving extremely long sentences.