Gold Dome Update  
Highlights from the House  
Week Three
On Monday, January 23rd, we returned to Capitol Hill to resume the 2017 legislative calendar, ending this week with the completion of session day 8. As we continue to move forward, there is no shortage of committee meetings, legislative debate and Capitol day events. This week we also passed, the first of many, budget measures. 
2017 Amended Fiscal Year Budget 

Thursday, January 26th, the House overwhelmingly voted in favor for the passage of the amended state budget for fiscal year 2017. The AFY 2017 budget, if approved by the Senate, will allocate an additional $606.2 million in earned revenue, bringing the total AFY 2017 budget to $24.3 billion. The final amount is approximately 2.5 percent higher than originally estimated. The amended budget now heads to the Senate for further consideration. We are expected to vote on the full 2018 Fiscal Year budget in the next couple of weeks. Further highlights of the Amended FY 2017 budget are as follows:

  • $16.7 million for the Move on When Ready program which allows eligible Georgia students to take advantage of dual enrollment and progress at their own pace.
  • $2.3 million to create the Georgia Center for Early Language and Literacy at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, an education training center for developing literacy skills among children from birth to age 8 throughout the state.
  • $25.1 million for a 20 percent pay raise for state law enforcement officers over 16 agencies.
  • $50 million for the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center in Augusta.
  • $974,712 to expedite the 57 percent per diem rate increase for Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) foster parents, effective April 1, 2017.
  • $746,243 for a $1 per day increase for the relative, or kinship, foster care providers effective April 1, 2017.

Last weekend, many homes and businesses throughout our district were devastated by severe weather resulting in multiple tornadoes. These horrific storms resulted in school closures, power outages, insurmountable property damage and sadly, loss of life. In case of such event, we annually allocate funding to the Governor’s Emergency Fund to aid citizens in times of critical need. Last week we put $5 million into the AFY 2017 budget to supplement federal funding received from FEMA to aid community recovery. I would like to say thank you to Governor Deal and GEMA leaders for their swift action and aid as we begin to rebuild affected areas throughout our district. My thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones, as well as, those recovering from injuries sustained during these devastating storms.

Issue Watch

As expected two issue hot topics have already begun moving through "the process," with the introduction of legislation in regards to Casino Gaming and Medical Cannabis expansion. All legislation will be closely followed as we work to ensure sound policy measures are in place, should these initiatives move forward. 

Casino Gaming
On Wednesday, legislators in the House and Senate took the first step in changing our  Casino gaming laws in Georgia. The identical bills, House Bill 158 and Senate Bill 79, would allow for the construction of two “destination” resorts, each housing casinos. One would be located in metro Atlanta, while the second would be located outside of the metro region. The 2016 bill called for four “resort destinations” but failed to move forward. Further, this year’s proposals also dedicate more funding to the HOPE Scholarships program, as well as, other education initiatives. Those in support of the legislation believe that these resorts will bring additional revenue and economic development to Georgia, while increasing educational funding. Those against the measure fear that crime levels and gambling addictions will eventually end up causing the state more money in the long run. A recent poll provided by the AJC show 56 percent of Georgian's in favor of Casino Gaming. 

Medical Cannabis Expansion
Thus far, two medical Cannabis expansion measures have been brought forth. If passed, House Resolution 36 would allow a statewide ballot question in an upcoming election for the state to oversee and regulate the in-state cultivation of marijuana for medical use. House Bill 65 would expand the number of illnesses allowed to use cannabis oil as a medical treatment. The added conditions under HB 65 include: Tourette's syndrome; Autism spectrum disorder; Intractable pain; Post-traumatic stress disorder; Alzheimer's disease. 

State of the Judiciary Address

Throughout the duration of Governor Deal's service, a primary focus for the General Assembly has been that of Criminal Justice Reform. On Wednesday, January 25th, the annual State of the Judiciary addressed ongoing efforts before a joint session of the House and Senate in the House Chamber. Chief Justice P. Harris Hines spoke of judicial branch accomplishments in the last year, while highlighting problem areas in need of reform. Although Georgia is recognized as a national leader in criminal justice reform, there are issues we need to address, such as our current probation rate which is the highest in the nation. Chief Justice Hines also discussed the importance of updating current technology systems in an effort to simplify procedures currently in place. Updating technologies within the Criminal Justice system will most certainly be an issue we consider as we move forward with reform efforts over the next two years.  

Share with Shaw...

This weeks “Share with Shaw” segment featured questions regarding Tax Reform. Most respondents believe that a Fair Tax, based off of consumption, should be considered when reforming our tax code. Many also favored the option of an internet sales tax, if implementation of such, would result in a lower state income tax rate. While there are no overnight solutions for an overhaul of our current tax system, discussing this issue with open dialogue is a step in the right direction. Your opinions will help us move forward in regards to tax reform options when representing our citizens. The questions presented last week are listed below and I encourage you to continue sharing your ideas regarding the current tax code. I sincerely appreciate all who took the time to share your insight as I work to represent YOU.  

As we continue to move forward, please feel free to contact me with questions and concerns. My first priority is to ensure that any votes taken accurately reflect our district stance. Thank you again for the privilege of serving as your advocate for simple, smart and effective government under Georgia's Gold Dome.


Shaw Blackmon

Representative of Georgia's 146th House District

Representative Shaw Blackmon
District 146
Phone: 404-656-0177
Address: 501-E Coverdell Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

Rep. Shaw Blackmon represents District 146.  He currently serves as a Deputy Whip and as a member of  Ways & Means, Economic Development and Tourism, Special Rules, Insurance and
Governmental Affairs Committees. Shaw is also a member of the Military Affairs Working Group.