By: Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R – Dallas)
As week six wraps up under the Gold Dome, we will reach the halfway point of session next week. With Crossover Day quickly approaching, legislators are busy filing legislation and committees are vetting those bills to ensure only the ones that will most benefit Georgians reach the Senate Floor. Crossover Day is essentially the last day a bill has to pass out either the House or the Senate to be considered by the other Chamber, but we have a lot of business to take care of before then. I am excited to give you some updates from the past two weeks.
Last week, the Senate had a full vote on House Bill 80, the Amended Fiscal Year 2021 (AFY21) Budget. HB 80 passed in the Senate and Gov. Brian Kemp signed the budget this week. Our only constitutional duty as legislators is to pass a balanced budget that best allocates Georgia’s resources, and I believe this budget did just that. The AFY21 budget totals $26.5 billion to put toward making Georgia a better place to live and work. I am pleased to tell you that $9.6 billion of the AFY21 budget will go toward K-12 education in Georgia. As you know, I am passionate about all children in Georgia receiving a quality education. The $9.6 billion that the AFY21 budget provides for education will fund the purchase of 520 school buses in Georgia, $1,000 bonuses for educators, new positions in the field of education that will help students with mental health and more. The AFY21 budget is invaluable to Georgia, and you can be assured that every dollar is being put to good use.
Also last week, the Senate made great strides toward helping eradicate human trafficking in Georgia by passing Senate Bill 33 and Senate Bill 34. SB 33 would allow survivors of human trafficking to file a claim for a civil case against their perpetrators for damages and attorney’s fees. Though no amount of money can take the pain away, this would surely help them receive some justice. SB 34 would allow human trafficking victims to change their names under seal so to better protect their identities. I will continue to fight for and support legislation that attacks human trafficking head on, while assisting human trafficking survivors.
This week, I filed Senate Bill 200. This bill would allow religious institutions and businesses to stay open during a pandemic or other health emergency as long as they follow the health guidelines set by state or local government. Near and dear to my heart, this bill would protect businesses in Georgia by preventing business owners from having to lay off employees or shut down while also keeping all employees and customers safe. Additionally, the bill includes a provision for religious institutions to remain open, which will allow Georgians to continue worshipping together in a safe manner. I am eager to watch SB 200 move through the Senate, and I will keep you updated on its progress.
The Senate Committee on Education and Youth, of which I serve as Vice Chair, voted on a few bills this week. Notably, the committee voted to pass Senate Bill 51. SB 51, also called the “Dexter Mosely Act,” would allow homeschooled students to participate in public school extracurricular and interscholastic activities as long as they are enrolled in one class at the public school system during the semester of participation. I cosponsored this bill and am pleased that is passed through committee. I believe SB 51 will enhance students’ experiences in Georgia.
Next week, we will convene in the Senate Chamber for five consecutive days. If you have any questions about the legislation we have passed, or future legislation, please do not hesitate to contact my office. It is always a pleasure to hear from my constituents. Thank you for your continued trust as I work to represent the 31st District.