3/16 2020 Special Session Day Report

Monday,  March 16,  2020

Georgia State Capitol
Today, my fellow House members and I overwhelmingly voted in support of Gov Kemp's  request for special powers to head off the COVID-19/Corona Virus outbreak in Georgia. 
My vote, as with many of my colleagues, came with conditions that the Governor exercise considerable restraint in the unprecedented power the Legislature granted to the Governor. 

The powers granted to the Gov by the Legislature expire in 30 days, April 13th, and must be reauthorized by April 15th, lest they will expire.
The Special Session report is the official recap of today's Special Session proceedings. 

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your State Representative, which I consider to be an honor and privilege.

With kind regards,

Jeff Jones


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Week 7 & 8 Legislative Updates for 2020

Weeks Ending on February 28, and March 3, 2020

March 10, 2019 – State Capitol, Atlanta, GA

In this newsletter, I will briefly share a few highlights of legislation and other activities the House dealt with during this two-week period.

Commentary

In my legislative update newsletters, I normally provide commentary and opinions about legislation, political maneuvering and other Capitol activities.  Due to time constraints, this issue is strictly a legislative recap issue. Thank you for your understanding, and of course, your support.

2020 State of the Judiciary Address (click here to watch)

Each year, the General Assembly holds a joint session to hear the State of the Judiciary address.  Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Herold D. Melton delivered his second annual address. During his address, Chief Justice Melton implored the General Assembly to continue to ensure that all Georgians, rich and poor, have access to justice. Click the link above to watch the address.

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Week 6 Legislative Update for 2020

Week Ending on February 21, 2020

The Georgia General Assembly, House and Senate, reconvened Tuesday, February 18 for the sixth week of the 2020 legislative session.  The singularly most important thing we did for the week was pass HB792, the Amended Fiscal Year 2020 (AFY 2020) budget representing a $159 million cut in the budget we passed in 2019, to match Gov. Kemp’s revised revenue estimate of $27.3 billion.

In the House version of the AFY 2020 budget, we recognized the need for expanding mental health and crisis intervention services and increasing access to quality health care across the state. We also restored funding for other important budget items, including grants to county health departments, as well as a restoration of funds to ensure a fully-functioning criminal justice system, which included funding for our public defenders, accountability courts and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s (GBI) crime labs.

Even as the previously proposed budget cuts have been restored, remember that the State of Georgia must pass a balanced budget; the House budget proposal is for a BALANCED BUDGET.

Public Safety and Criminal Justice Priorities Cuts Restored

  1. $801,000 restored to GBI to allow the agency to hire up to eight forensic scientists and two lab technicians to process more DNA evidence and alleviate the growing backlog of sexual assault kits, and to allow GBI’s crime lab to process it’s 45,000 pieces of 30-day old crime-related evidence;
  2. $1.2 million for the GBI’s gang database and taskforce helping local law enforcement agencies combat gang violence;
  3. $1.34 million for our accountability courts that have proven to offer non-violent offenders sentencing alternatives; this funding restoration will save our state $10.3 million in cost avoidance for offenders who may otherwise go to prison;
  4. $1.85 million to the Georgia Public Defender Council to allow the council to hire 16 attorneys to reduce the average caseload from 148.8 to 138 per public defender, and to fill vacancies that left eight Georgia counties without a state public defender.

Governor’s Other Proposed Budget Cuts Restored

The House version of the AFY 2020 budget restored several of the Governor’s other proposed budget cuts:

  1. $281,000 for five food safety inspectors and two animal industry inspectors to inspect for safe foods at grocery stores, discount stores and gas stations.
  2. $2.8 million for Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Services supporting Georgia agribusinesses;
  3. $345,000 to the state’s Forestry Research program helping to address restoration of the 2.4 million acres of forest impacted by 2018’s Hurricane Michael;
  4. $2.6 million for county public health, which provide basic health care services, programs and resources to local communities, especially in rural Georgia where eight counties have no physician and nine rural counties only have one.
  5. $463,000 for the Rural Health Systems Innovation Center at Mercer School of Medicine; these medical schools provide health care to underserved and rural areas of the state
  6. $5.4 million to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) for crisis beds and behavioral health care services; will allow the DBHDD to maintain its current serving capacity of 4,953 individuals with 95 crisis beds in 21 crisis units statewide, as well as serve an additional 2,320 individuals

 

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Press Release: Rep. Jeff Jones Introduces Hailie’s Amendment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Friday, February 21, 2020

Contact: Betsy Theroux
(404) 656-3996
betsy.theroux@house.ga.gov

 

Rep. Jeff Jones Introduces Hailie’s Amendment to Amend Legislative Leave Law 

ATLANTA – State Representative Jeff Jones (R-Brunswick) recently introduced House Bill 982, or Hailie’s Amendment, to the amend Georgia law related to legislative leave to exclude sexual and other violent crimes from the current law.

“As occasionally happens with well-intentioned legislation, the victims of the legal loopholes the legislative leave law created were left with serious, life changing outcomes, and sadly no justice under the law,” said Rep. Jones. “In simple terms, all too many victims of sexual and other violent crimes, serious and horrific violent crimes, never received their timely day in court and all because of the wording of the legislative leave law. This amendment adds 18 words to existing law and prevents legislative leave from being used to delay criminal trials involving sexual or other violent crimes. Hailie’s Amendment will serve to protect our most vulnerable victims and recognizes that there are some things more important than legislative duties and obligations.”

Hailie's Amendment Introduced

Hailie Massey and Eleanor visit with Gov. Kemp.

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Week 4 & 5 Legislative Updates for 2020

Week Ending 7th & 14th of February, 2020

Monday, February 3rd, was Legislative Day 10 and marked the start of the fourth week of the 2020 legislative session; the House and Senate adjourned unexpectedly early on Wednesday, February 5th to allow the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to deep dive into Gov. Kemp’s $28.1 billion budget.  The entire week from February 10th through the 14th was spent conducting Appropriations Committee hearings on the FY 2020 and FY 2021 budgets.

$26.1 Billion Governor’s Budget for FY 2021

Governor Kemp’s FY 2021 budget of Georgia State Funds is proposed at $28.1 billion. Not to confuse readers, but the proposed FY 2021 Total State Expenditures budget is $54.1 billion; the $26 billion amount above the Governor’s $28.1 billion State Funds budget reflects money coming from “Federal Funds and Grants” over which state leaders have little or no control. Regardless, the additional $26 billion is money that flows into our state. The Governor’s budget and the numbers I am referring to appear in the Governor’s proposed 2021 budget.

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Week 3 Legislative Update for 2020

Week Ending January 31, 2020

During the third week, we were in session for all five days of the week; the fourth week, we adjourned unexpectedly early on Wednesday, February 5th, which I will report on in detail in next week’s newsletter.   The reason given for unexpected early adjournment on February 5th was so that House and Senate Appropriation Committees can finish work on tweaking the current year’s 2020 budget, and to work on the Governor’s proposed 2021 budget. The Georgia State Constitution requires that the State of Georgia produce a “balance budget” {Georgia State Constitution, Section IX, paragraph IV(b)} which is a very good thing!  In fact, the only constitutional requirement imposed on the annual 40-day convening of the General Assembly is to produce the “balance budget”. Proposing, debating and enacting legislation in support of legislative priorities and a balanced budget falls to Georgia’s House of Representatives and Senate.

2021 Budget Battle Brewing

There is a budget battle brewing between Governor Brian Kemp and House Speaker David Ralston over who sets Georgia’s policy, legislative initiatives and priorities, and the subsequent state budget.

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Week 2 Legislative Update for 2020

Week Ending January 24, 2020

A Message from Rep. Jeff Jones

The following report about the very important 2020 budget hearings was prepared by the House Media Office.  I am not a member of budget or appropriations committees so I was not in Atlanta during the week of Budget hearings. Like many Georgians and Legislators, I watched portions of the hearings LIVE from a link on the House official website.

This newsletter will give you important information about the 2020 budget process.

Joint House and Senate Budget Hearings Began Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The House and Senate returned to the State Capitol on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, for the second week of the 2020 legislative session, which is commonly referred to as “budget week.” This week, the House and Senate began the state budget process, which is singularly the most important responsibilities we have during the legislative session - we are constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget each year. Over the course of three days, the House and Senate Appropriations committees held a series of joint budget hearings, and Gov. Kemp presented his recommendations and priorities for the amended budget and upcoming 2021 fiscal year budget, which is set at $28.1 billion in total funding. Our second week under the Gold Dome was certainly busy as these committees worked to ensure that we efficiently allocate our state revenue to best serve the needs of all Georgians.

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1st Legislative Update for 2020

Week Ending January 17, 2020

On Monday, January 13, 2020 both the Georgia House and Senate returned to the State Capitol in Atlanta to begin the first full week (legislative days 1 – 4) of the 2020 session.  The 2020 session is the second year of this biennial; Georgia’s General Assembly operates each term on a two-year basis called the biennial.

As is typically the case, the first week of the 2020 session was comprised primarily of the annual official session opening procedures. A few of House committees met generally to set rules and procedures for how the committees will function.

Governor Kemp Delivers 2020 State of the State Address

Following years old tradition, Governor Brian Kemp delivered his second annual State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly on Thursday, January 16,2020.  I highly recommend you watch the Governor’s address by clicking on this link:  Watch Governor Kemp’s State of the State.

Gov. Kemp reminded us of the great successes that we have experienced in Georgia recently, including reaching the lowest unemployment rate in the state’s history at 3.3 percent, creating 64,000 new private sector jobs and being named the number one state to do business for the seventh straight year. Despite these successes, we have much work to do to make our state even stronger.

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Veteran's Day 2019 St. Simons Island

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The following remarks were delivered by Representative Jeff Jones this Veteran's Day, November 11, 2019 on St. Simons Island.

Pictured from Left Commander Bennie Williams, Chairman of the Veterans Council of the Golden Isles ; Colonel Mike A. Adams, Chief of Staff, 3rd Infantry Division, US Army, Fort Stewart, GA, guest speaker at the Glynn County Veterans Day Celebration.

"Good morning everyone.

Each and every one of us here today is here for a singular purpose, to recognize and thank our veterans for their noble and selfless service to our country. To every veteran I offer my sincerest thanks for a job well done.

At last year’s Veterans Day ceremony, I quoted veteran Dan Crenshaw who is Texas’ 2nd Congressional District’s Republican Representative. Crenshaw a former Navy SEAL said “Certainly say, ‘Thanks for your service,’ but I would actually encourage you to say something else: Tell a veteran ‘never forget.’”
“When you say ‘never forget’ to a veteran, you are implying that as an American, you are in it with them, not separated by some imaginary barrier between civilians and veterans, but connected together as grateful fellow Americans.”

In that vein, I want to mention a way that we, as a community, can act on the “Never forget” promise in support of our vets.

Related: Veterans Honored at Ceremony - The Brunswick News

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Letter Requesting Alternative Public Access to DNR/Musgrove

June 5, 2019

Mr. Mark Williams, Commissioner
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 1252 – East Tower
Atlanta, GA 30334


SUBJ: Request for Alternative Public Boat Ramp Access to the
DNR/Musgrove/Guale Reserve Boat Ramp

Dear Commissioner Williams:

By this letter, on behalf of the residents and property owners of the historic German Village neighborhood known as Village Bluff on St Simons Island, I am formally requesting that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources initiate and grant approval for an access road across the Musgrove Plantation/Guale Reserve property to the DNR boat ramp located in the northeast corner of the above referenced property. The GA DNR has the full authority to grant such access by virtue of long-standing policy and practice, by virtue of the documents filed with various state and federal agencies related to acquisition of portions of the Musgrove Plantation property, and under the terms of the conservation easement applicable to the property.

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