Why I’m Running for Georgia Senate

Jeff Jones State Senate

Friends of Jeff Jones   139-358 Altama Connector, Brunswick, GA 31525   (912) 386-0428

Jeff Jones, Former State Representative HD167

Why I'm Running

Recently, I launched my bid for the Georgia State Senate and wanted to tell you why. Serving the people of South East Georgia in the State House for three terms was the honor of my lifetime, and I'm ready to do it again as your next State Senator for Southeast Georgia.

READ AUGUST 2021 PRESS RELEASE HERE

Voter Integrity

It's no secret that there are many issues with the November 2020 election; we need to investigate and we need to investigate NOW. We need a 159 county Forensic Audit of the 2020 election.

When I'm elected to the State Senate, it will be one of my primary missions to ditch Dominion and return integrity to our elections. If we don't have true and fair elections, as voters, we’ve lost our only voice and ultimately, as Americans, we've lost our country.

Critical Race Theory

I also want to - once and for all - Ban Critical Race Theory from our Public Schools by Law, not just by an executive order. If there is one thing we've learned under the Biden Administration, is the importance of enacting laws, not simply issuing executive orders.

Our future generations deserve an honest look at the history of our country, not the distorted lies of Critical Race Theory.  Governor Kemp banned Critical Race Theory by an executive order, and I applaud him for that. But, if Stacey Abrams has her way and becomes Governor, she'll do away with the Executive Order and push Critical Race Theory in our schools.

Constitutional Carry

I watched as many states, including Texas, Tennessee and Idaho passed Constitutional Carry in their states this past year, and quite frankly, it's time to bring it to Georgia.

The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is for Law-Abiding Citizens to bear arms in order to protect themselves. If you send me to the State Senate, I will sponsor and lobby to protect Georgian’s second amendment constitutional rights by passing Constitutional Carry in our state.

Please always feel free to reach out to share your thoughts and opinions regarding legislative issues and concerns.
Email:  [email protected];  FacebookFacebook.com/jeffjonesga
Contribute:   
votejeffjones.com/contribute

 

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Legislative Update Weeks 4 & 5

Legislative Update Weeks 4-5 of the 2021 Session (Feb 1 - 12)

By Jeff Jones, Former State Representative HD167

WEEK FOUR – February 1

On Monday, February 1st, the fourth week the 2021 session of the Georgia General Assembly reconvened at the State Capitol in Atlanta.

Impact of COVID-19 on General Assembly and Capitol Proceedings

Just as the daily lives of all Georgia citizens have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, CV-19 has had a direct impact on the routine proceedings of the General Assembly.

House and Senate members, who used to gather under one roof in their respective chambers, are now spread out in order to achieve “social distancing”.  House members are spread out on the House floor, are scattered throughout the House Gallery, and are seated in remote meeting rooms. The logistics of being spread out has made even the routine task of daily roll call (checking in for the day’s proceedings) very slow as everything is conducted by verbal roll call.  Voting on measures – bills and motions - is now performed via a verbal roll call of all 180 members, again dragging out even simple parliamentary processes.  But proper procedures must be followed to be sure any official actions taken by the House (or Senate) are proper and legal.

As House and Senate members gather in the Capitol for each day’s proceedings, and in fact everyone working in or visiting the Capitol, must be medically screened for COVID-19 prior to entry.  The medical screening is in addition to the security screening that all members, staff, and visitors undergo prior to entering the Capitol.

Committee hearings this session will have in-person and virtual attendance options. Fortunately, the public can remotely watch live streams of all official House and Senate sessions and meetings via the General Assembly website.

Key Legislative Initiatives Moving During Week 4

As I have done over the six years I actively served as your District 167 State Representative, I will continue to report on and share insights about legislation and legislative initiative that come before or are being considered by the House of Representatives and our state government.  My goal is that you be informed about the good and bad things circulating in our state government.  A fully informed and educated electorate is key to making sure our state government acts in the best interest of ALL of it citizens.

HB 290 “Right to Visit” – During this COVID-19 pandemic, as Georgia citizens are keenly aware, family members are currently prohibited from visiting loved ones and family members who are confined to nursing homes or who are in the hospital.

The “Right to Visit Act”, which I strongly support, would require hospitals and nursing homes to allow patients to visit with family members for a minimum of two hours each day - even during public health emergencies - at the very time, these citizens are struggling with their health.  Visitation by family members and loved ones are proven a key to the mental and physical well-being of these vulnerable citizens.  Obviously, safety and health protocols would need to be in place including making sure that all parties have tested negative for COVID-19.

Rep. Setzler, the bill sponsor, explained, “In June 2020, the General Assembly provided unprecedented COVID-19 legal protections to all health care providers with the intent they would allow patients to visit their family members. Sadly, many providers accepted the legal protections, but continued to stonewall families from basic visitation.”

HB 276 “Save Girls Sports” – This bill, which I strongly support, will stop state public schools and universities from allowing “biological males to participate in girl-only sports.”  This is a common-sense measure that protects the rights of female athletes to compete athletically against other athletes who are biological females.  Representative Phillip Singleton, the bill sponsor explained, “No one here is concerned with how any person chooses to identify their gender.  This bill is about biology and physiology, not psychology or sociology.”

Sports Betting, is this a Path to Casino Gambling in Georgia?

As many Georgian’s have been following for the past several, years, Representative Ron Stephens, HD164, continues to advocate expanding gambling in Georgia.  This year, Rep. Stephens has introduced HB 86, the “Georgia Lottery Mobile Sports Wagering Integrity Act”, which seeks to legalize and regulate sports betting in Georgia.

One strategy for passage of a Sports Betting bill, which Governor Kemp has generally stated he does not support and has threatened to veto, is to attach the Sports Betting bill to a Constitutional Amendment to legalize Casino Gambling.  This strategy bypasses the Governor’s desk and Governor Kemp’s possible veto.

The simple argument in favor of passage is that sports betting is happening in Georgia via the internet regardless of whether Georgia passes this measure. Another strong argument in favor of passage that Georgia would receive a $43 million injection into the HOPE Scholarship fund from the $433 million in gross revenue sports betting will generate.

According to the bill sponsor and information that came out in testimony during the committee hearings, HB 86 would:

  1. allow the Georgia Lottery Corporation to regulate sports wagering such that individuals who are 21 years of age and older would be able to place bets on specific professional and Olympic sporting events through an interactive sports wagering platform;
  2. includes certain restrictions for sports betting, including prohibiting the use of credit cards, as well as prohibiting league and team insider betting;
  3. would provide resources for individuals with gambling problems or addictions;
  4. enhance fan engagement and strengthen partnerships with Georgia sports teams.

Statistics and studies consistently prove year after year that the promised revenue from expanding gambling never materializes, and the negative consequences to a community far out way any promised financial benefit.  Businesses, including local restaurants and entertainment venues, suffer as expendable cash is sucked up by the gambling operations, particularly around casinos.

The passage of legal sports betting is an incremental step toward ultimately pushing for legalizing casino gambling.  The Jekyll Island governing body has voted to oppose a casino being located on Jekyll Island.

HB 114 – Increasing Adoption Tax Credit; this bill increases the state’s tax credit for families that adopt from foster care from $2,000 to $6,000 per year for five years.

HB 154Easing Adoption Rules for Children in Foster Care; this bill will ease the process for close relatives to adopt children out of foster care by lowering the age an individual may adopt from 25 to 21.

HB 304 - “Georgia Made Medical Manufacturing Act” is an effort to incentivize the production of medicine and medical devices within Georgia, thus reducing our dependency on other states or foreign countries for these supplies.  This is similar to President Trump’s efforts to return all kinds of manufacturing to the United States, including the manufacture of drugs and medical devices. During the 2020 session, Governor Kemp signed the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Tax Credit into law; Georgia Made Medical Manufacturing Act is modeled after that legislation

 

WEEK FIVE – February 8th

The week of February 8 marked the start of the fifth week of the 2021 legislative session.

Amended Fiscal Year 2021 (AFY 2021) Budget Receives Final Approval

In week 3, I reported the House passed the Amended Fiscal Year 2021 (AFY 2021) budget HB 80. This week the AFY 2021 received final passage that included Senate revisions; the Senate revisions did not change the $654.3 million, or 2.5 percent, increase the House approved two weeks ago. The bill was sent to the governor to be signed into law.

State Leadership (Kemp, Duncan & Ralston) Announce $60 Million in Bonuses to State Employees

Governor Brian Kemp, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, House Speaker David Ralston announced that 57,159 state employees who earn less than $80,000 will receive a one-time bonus of $1,000 during the current fiscal year. This “special thank you bonus” will nearly $60 million.

To address a more than 90 percent turnover rate, state correctional officers will also receive this bonus in addition to a 10 percent salary increase that is included in this budget.  Being a correctional officer is a very tough job!

Official Statement from the State of Georgia Regarding the $1,000 Bonus:

“Since the pandemic began almost a year ago, our state employees have worked tirelessly to continue to provide state services that every Georgian has benefited from this last year, and this bonus is a way to thank them for their dedication to our state.”

Key Legislative Initiatives Moving During Week 5

Expansion of Rural Broadband

Expanding critical broadband service across rural Georgia has been a state priority for the past several years. Towards that effort, Gov. Kemp and Lt. Gov. Duncan announced the expansion of rural broadband service across 18 counties in Middle Georgia this week through a new Electric Membership Cooperative (EMC) partnership with Central Georgia EMC (CGEMC) and Southern Rivers Energy (SRE) joining forces with Conexon, a full-service fiber broadband provider, to provide high-speed internet to 80,000 homes and businesses that are EMC members within the next four years.

During my service in the House of Representatives, as Vice-Chair of the House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee, the House spearheaded initiatives and legislation to support expanding rural broadband, and to remove the legal obstacles allowing expansion of rural broadband.  Expanding opportunities for our rural Georgia neighbors, such as broadband expansion, is important for all Georgians.

HB 112 - COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act passed the House with a July 2022 expiration date; renews original law that expires July 2021.

This legislation is necessary to protect Georgia health care facilities, health care providers, businesses, and individuals from litigation and liability for CV-19 exposure.  In return, these facilities need to figure out how to let family members visit their loved ones in our medical facilities. See Comments above in Week Four about HB 290 “Right to Visit” bill.

HB 105 - authorize the Department of Defense to provide compensation to Georgia’s guardsmen who are called to active duty without the governor declaring a state of emergency;

HB 129 – increases the minimum salary to $83,750.51 for sheriffs serving in a county with a population of 39,000 to 49,999;

HB 134 - excludes cybersecurity contracting and planning meetings from the state’s open meeting requirements and exempts any document or plan for cybersecurity devices, programs, or systems from public inspection.  This is important to maintain strict confidentiality and security in these sensitive areas of the Georgia government.

Tracking All Georgia General Assembly Legislation – If you want to more closely track legislation, check out the official Composite Tracking Sheet updated weekly by the House of Representatives.

Also, the website LEGISCAN is a great source to track and read more information about the full list of legislation moving through the Georgia General Assembly over the course of the 2021 session.

 

Please Contact Me

As your former District 167 State Representative, I continue to work on behalf of the citizens of House District 167 and the entire state on issues important to all of us.  For example, I am working with a grass-roots group of citizens to push for much-needed election law reform.  I am also working with a special committee sponsored by the GA GOP and the Glynn GOP also working for election reform.

I encourage you to read updates like this to stay informed on legislative matters that affect our district and state. The official House of Representatives website has a number of tools to help you stay up-to-date on what’s going on at the Capitol; you can watch a live stream of the House proceedings; view live and archived committee meetings and review legislation the Legislature is considering.

I welcome you to reach out to me and share your thoughts and opinions regarding 2021 legislative issues and concerns.  I can be reached via email at [email protected], on Facebook at facebook.com/votejeffjones, and by phone at (912) 386-0428.

As always, thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Jeff Jones

 

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Weeks 1-3 Legislative Updates for 2021

Legislative Update Weeks 1, 2 and 3 of the 2021 Session (January 11 – 29)

By Jeff Jones, Former State Representative HD167

 

WEEK ONE – January 11th

On Monday, January 11, 2021, the 2021 session of the Georgia General Assembly convened for its first day at the State Capitol in Atlanta. As is the norm for the opening week of each session, much of the activities were ceremonial dealing with the official opening of the session.

Election of Speaker of the House for 2021-22

After the House member were officially sworn in, the most substantive procedural activity was the reelection of State Representative David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) as Speaker of the House of Representatives for 2021-22, a position he has held since 2010. A survey conducted in 2019-20 revealed Representative Ralston commands less than 15% support state-wide by his fellow Georgians.  Despite his lack of popularity with voters and the grass-roots state-wide, the majority party House Republicans re-elected Representative Ralston as Speaker of the House for an additional two-year term.

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A Race to the Finish of the 2020 Session

On June 26, 2020, the General Assembly officially and finally adjourned the 60+ day COVID-19 suspended 2020 session, after passing the only Constitutionally required piece of business – a balanced $26 billion fiscal year 2021 state budget; Georgia’s new fiscal year begins on July 1, 2020. The new budget reflects a 10% overall reduction in spending to match Governor Kemp’s 10% projected reduction in state revenue.

Each year, the budget process begins with the Governor’s revenue projections; the balanced budget is then created based on that revenue forecast. As of just 45 days ago, and before May’s state revenues started being reported in early June, the Governor was forecasting a 14% decrease in revenue to the state equating to approximately $2.8 billion revenue drop.

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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
[email protected]

 

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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