We ended our week on Friday with a flurry of activity in the Georgia House, in anticipation of Crossover Day on Monday. Our legislation this session continues to reflect our priorities of protecting our families, encouraging job growth and promoting economic development.
In promotion of public safety, last week we passed a number of bills aimed at protecting Georgians from crime and violent attack. These bills include HB 770, which increases punishment for sex traffickers who subject people with developmental disabilities to sexual servitude. Similarly, HB 979, which passed the House on Friday, would increase the punishment for individuals who attack hospital emergency department personnel and emergency medical services personnel.
In addition, the House passed HB 827, which requires law enforcement to transmit all untested sexual assault kits to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for testing. This bill was designed to end the backlog of untested rape kits in Georgia.
On Monday, the House also passed two measures designed to keep our best and brightest students safe from violence on college campuses. HB 859 would allow Georgians with a carry license to take their firearm onto certain parts of a public college campus. “Campus Carry” protects not only our 2nd Amendment Rights but also protects students, faculty, and staff from a potential attacker or active shooter on campus. In addition, HB 792 would allow people to carry certain electroshock weapons at public universities.
Protecting National Guard
On Monday, we passed HB 831, the “Protecting Guardsmen’s Employment Act.” This bipartisan legislation would amend existing reemployment protections for armed forces reservists by providing employment protections to Georgia workers called into service by the national guard of a neighboring state. Job security for our citizen soldiers who protect our freedom is our goal.
This week we also saw the passage of House Bill 768, known as the Georgia Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. This bill aims to ease financial strains on individuals with disabilities by allowing them to save private funds in tax-exempt accounts without becoming ineligible for Medicaid. An ABLE account is a tax-free savings account that can cover expenses such as medical care, education, community-based supports, employment training, assistive technology, housing and transportation.
Education Savings Account
On Thursday, the House passed HB 802, which raises the allowable deduction for Georgia Higher Education Savings Plan (“529 Plan”) for married contributors filing joint returns from $2,000 per beneficiary to $4,000 per beneficiary. This bill increases the ability of Georgians to invest in the education of our children.
Rural health care
Last week we also passed HB 919, which would allow an individual or corporation to receive a state tax credit for donating money to a rural health care organization. This measure is part of our effort in the House to support health care access in rural regions of the state, and to engage the private sector and faith-based community in that effort.
Rep. Bob Bryant – A distinguished leader and friend
Last week, the Georgia General Assembly also paused to honor the life and legacy of State Rep. Bob Bryant from Garden City, who passed away on Tuesday. A loyal husband, dedicated father, brave veteran and steadfast public servant, Bob was an inspiration to his colleagues in the State House. I was proud to call Bob my friend and will miss him greatly.
Jon Burns represents District 159 in the General Assembly, where he serves as the House Majority Leader. Questions? Call (404.656.5052), e-mail (Jon.Burns@House.Ga.Gov) or engage on Facebook (www.FB.com/JonBurnsGA).