Gold Dome Update  
Highlights from the House  
Week Six
Friday, February 17 marked day 20 of the 2017 legislative session, meaning we have reached the halfway point of this year’s session! With only 20 remaining days to get legislation passed, we  are well aware of the rapidly approaching “Crossover Day” deadline. Crossover day is extremely  important as it is the last day that bills can transfer or "crossover" to the other chamber with  enough time to make it through the "process" of committee hearings and a floor vote. This cutoff means we have long nights ahead of us at the Capitol. Despite the increasingly quickening pace, we have managed to accomplish quite a few important things for Georgia this week. 

The most important measure we addressed this week was HB 44, the full 2018 Fiscal Year Budget, which will serve as the spending guideline for the 2018 fiscal year. Passing a  balanced budget is our only constitutionally mandated duty within the forty-day legislative period. The FY 2018 budget is set by a revenue estimate of $24.9 billion.

Our local delegation has been hard at work to ensure we secure funding for our area of the state. Approximately $3 million has been allocated towards a new equine center at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and another $1 million has been placed in the budget for the VECTR Center, to further assist our Veterans. 

As education continues to be our top priority, the 2018 FY budget allocates nearly $780.2 million towards education initiatives. Perhaps most importantly, the FY 2018 budget will provide that $162 million is dedicated to a 2 percent merit pay increase for our hardworking teachers. The 2018 budget also includes that bus drivers and school nutrition personnel receive a 2 percent salary increase. Education budget funding also includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  •  $1.6 million for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) trainers and school climate specialists to help reduce disciplinary incidents and promote school safety.

  • $2.7 million in new and existing funds to provide one AP STEM exam for every student taking an AP STEM course.

  • $4.05 million to fund additional school counselors for all school systems in Georgia.

  • $445,145 for a competitive grant program available to school systems that have a large military population intended to fund counselor positions, providing additional support to students of military families.

  • $1.5 million for the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement grant program, that will provide low performing high schools with a certified school counselor-graduation specialist.

Quality access to healthcare also remains a focus and legislative priority, as we have allocated additional funding towards many healthcare initiatives. For that reason, HB 44 includes budget money for several key services:

  • $14.9 million for relative foster parents caring for and raising our state’s foster children.
  • $500,000 to expand the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) to advocate on behalf of our children.
  • $6 million for the creation of a Behavioral Health Crisis Center which would address emergency crisis needs for individuals struggling with mental illnesses by providing 24/7.
  • $500,000 towards developmental disabilities scholarships.
  • $2 million for Georgia Alzheimer’s Project, promoting early detection and treatment for early detection and treatment.

  • $38.4 million for Medicaid growth
  • $20.7 million for behavioral health services for children under 21 who are diagnosed with Autism,  $325,000 for an Adolescent to Adult Transition model to improve outcomes for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  • $2.5 million for behavioral health services for children ages 0 to 4.
  • Funding for 97 new residency slots in primary care medicine.
  • 10 additional OB/GYN residency slots at various hospitals and a new psychiatry residency program.

As an avid supporter and Representative of our Veteran and military population, I was pleased to see 2018 budget allocations in regards to benefiting our military service members and their families. Georgia boasts one of the largest military communities in the Union and I am proud to support any effort aimed at improving military benefits. Listed below are military funding initiatives included in the 2018 FY budget:

  • Funding for additional school counselors to school systems serving large military communities.

  • $358,996 for four veteran benefits training officers who would work with the Veterans Accountability Court, serving those who have entered the criminal justice system upon returning home from combat.

  • $137,650 to fund a women veterans coordinator to assist female veterans.

  • $359,437 for the Georgia Military Pension Fund to continue fiscal soundness and sustainability.

One final key highlight of the FY 2018 budget is the appropriation for pay raises within various Georgia agencies which include the following:
  • 20 percent salary increases for state law enforcement agents, impacting officers and criminal investigators across 16 state agencies.

  • $2.6 million for public safety training to support and adequately train state and local law enforcement officers.

  •  Funding for additional Georgia Bureau of Investigation personnel.

In addition to passing the 2018 budget, we also passed HB 139 to promote transparency within our Georgia school systems; HB 1, Georgia Space Flight Act (GSA) which would define procedures for commercial space flight activity, allowing us to be more competitive with neighboring “space friendly” states and HB 9, privacy law bill.

Sponsored Legislation   

House Bill 9, addressing current privacy law, overwhelmingly passed the House last Friday. We introduced HB 9 in response to a Court of Appeals ruling that overturned the conviction of an individual who recorded a cell phone video underneath a woman’s skirt in a Houston County grocery store. The Court cited c urrent Georgia law which states "privacy" only  applies to activities that occur in any “private place out of viewing." HB 9 will close this loophole. Many thanks to  my House colleagues who have worked on this legislation since July of 2016. Each sponsor went above and beyond to ensure this was a well crafted, collaborative bill. I would also like to Congratulate Senator Larry Walker, who's mirroring bill in the Senate, also passed last week. We are confident that one of these two bills will make it to final passage before the final day of session and we will continue to update you on our progress.   

Pictured above: It was a pleasure to welcome members of the Georgia Chapter of Family, Career, Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) from all of our Houston County middle schools to the Capitol. FCCLA is national student organization that helps young men and women become leaders and address important personal, family, work, and societal issues through family and consumer science education. If you are not familiar with this organization, I encourage you to learn more about their outstanding work in our schools and communities.

Pictured below: Representative Clark and I were pleased to welcome local pageant winners. One of these young ladies may be the next Betty Cantrell!

As we move towards the 40th and final legislative day our efforts for simple, smart and effective government continue. If you have questions or concerns regarding legislation, please reach out to me anytime. As always, it is an honor to serve as your voice under the Gold Dome and I thank you for the opportunity to do so. 


Shaw Blackmon

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.