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General Assembly session closes with a flourish
Hitchens Bill
State Rep. Bill Hitchens

 The 2019 General Assembly session was set to come to a close Tuesday.

Last week was very industrious with many bills passing the House and Senate.

Most importantly, we fulfilled our state constitutional mandate by passing the FY 2020 General Budget to begin July 1. House Bill 31 is set by a revenue estimate of $27.5 billion, a 3.95 percent increase over the FY 2019 original budget. 

K-12 Education is designated to receive 63 percent of the new revenue, which includes a $3,000 pay raise beginning July 1 for Georgia’s teachers and other certified school personnel, including counselors and librarians. 

State employees, Board of Regents faculty and employees, and non-certified school personnel will also receive a 2 percent increase. We worked diligently to pass a fiscally responsible, balanced budget and I believe this extensive document supports our state agencies for a better Georgia.

Sex trafficking is an atrocious crime that has become pervasive in our state. SB 158 is the ‘“Anti-Human Trafficking Protective Response Act” that authorizes the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) to provide emergency care and supervision of any child who is the victim of human trafficking for labor or sexual servitude without a court order or the consent of the parents or legal guardian.

Moreover, SB 158 directs DFCS and law enforcement to take the child to an available victim services organization, which is certified by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, to provide comprehensive trauma-informed services. The bill also limits the prosecution of prostitution to individuals who are 18 years of age or older. We must do all we can to protect Georgia’s children from the horrors of sex trafficking and my colleagues overwhelmingly agreed by passing this bill unanimously.

Senate Bill 77 provides that any person who damages, destroys, loses, takes, or removes a publicly-owned military service monument is liable for attorney’s fees and court costs expended by the public entity, as well as triple the amount of the full cost of repair or replacement of the monument. An agency may relocate a monument if necessary, for construction or expansion, but the monument must be relocated to a site of similar prominence. The bill also prohibits the relocation of a monument to a museum, cemetery, or mausoleum.

Senate Bill 48 instructs the State Board of Education to develop policies for referring students in kindergarten and grades one through three for screening who have been identified as having dyslexia characteristics. The bill also requires the Georgia Department of Education to implement guidance and training in all schools regarding teaching students with dyslexia. I believe this bill will help with early positive intervention for students with dyslexia so they can get the help they need early in their school years.

Although the 2019 legislative session is over, your input is still important to me. Please contact me at or at 404.656.0152 with your concerns and questions. Thank you for the privilege of representing you!