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
- $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;
- $1.2 million for the GBI’s gang database and taskforce helping local law enforcement agencies combat gang violence;
- $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;
- $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:
- $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.
- $2.8 million for Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Services supporting Georgia agribusinesses;
- $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;
- $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.
- $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
- $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
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.Read more
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.Read more
Pictured: 12.06 Rep. Jeff Jones presents Dr. Arthur L. Cyphers, Senior Pastor of Norwich Baptist Church, the Georgia House of Representatives proclamation in recognition of the church's 100-year anniversary of serving Brunswick and Glynn County communities.
"On behalf of greater Brunswick and Glynn County, Thank you Norwich Baptist Church and congratulations on one-hundred years of service to our community..." ~Rep. Jeff Jones
Photo Courtesy: NASA - NASA images show the polution impact Florence had on coast.
2019-2020 Legislative Agenda; February 22, 2019
NOTE: This page will be updated as 2019-20 bill numbers are assigned. BOLD items are links to bills.
- Coal Ash Pond Dewatering; require public notice prior to dewatering; 2019’s bill – HB93 and HB94. In 2018, voted out of House 169-3; passed out of Senate NR&E committee; Senate never brought bill for vote.
- Coal Ash Solid Waste Landfill storage - minimum siting standards and prior public notice for new MSW coal ash storage; 2019’s bill –
- By law, for non-citizens, change the design of GA Drivers Licenses these individuals are currently receiving from the Georgia Department of Driver Services. 2019’s bill – HB270 and HB400. There a two bills required to achieve this. GA DDS records, approx. 24,000 such licenses have been issued in GA; following Federal REAL ID ACT guidelines, propose issuing these individual a uniquely designed, vertically oriented driver’s license that will not be valid for Federal ID purposes.
- Out of State Cash Wire Transfer Fees - collect a refundable fee for out-of-state cash wire transfers targeting drug dealers, gamblers, human traffickers and others who hide cash; $100 million annual projected net revenue, with no cost to Georgia taxpayers; 2018’s bill – HB66.
- Georgia’s Open Meeting Act - define that “final” meeting agenda must be publicly posted one full week prior to the meeting; establishes provisions for adding additional last-minute agenda items; 2018’s bill – HB1040.
- Teacher Out-of-Pocket School Supplies Tax Credit– change current tax deduction of $250 to a tax credit of $250; estimated impact of $25 million to Georgia budget; 2017’s bill – HB13
- GA Oyster Mariculture - 2019’s bill – HB450 to promote growth of the commercial oyster mariculture industry (production, harvesting and distribution) emphasizing the safe delivery of oysters to consumers; currently, commercially sold oysters must be wild grown & harvested; change code/regulations/rules to allow farm grown oyster mariculture and to allow out-of-state importation of oyster seed; DNR Commissioner Mark Williams & Department of Ag Commissioner Gary Black, the UGA Marine Extension Service (MAREX) plus mariculture producers, seafood distributors and restaurants, and the environmental community, all fully support the initiative; legislation is currently being drafted.
- State Owned Property in McIntosh & Long Counties; the large amount of acreage off tax roles adversely affects County and School District funding and results in significant loss of tax revenue; working to increase DNR budget to replace county’s lost revenue to replace lost local property tax revenue; working to redefine the “Equalization” formula which is used to rank GA counties by wealth and is used in state/federal school funding calculations.
- Hwy 84 Road Naming for Ludowici Police Chief Frank McClelland
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, September 17, 2018
Contact: Betsy Theroux
Rep. Jeff Jones to Reintroduce Legislation to Protect State’s Water Supply, Issues Statement on Collapse of Coal Ash Landfill
ATLANTA – State Representative Jeff Jones (R-Brunswick) today announced that he will reintroduce legislation in the 2019 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly that will focus on protecting the state’s water supplies from heavy metal toxicity that exists in coal ash.Read more
Pictured: Rep. Jeff Jones with Colonel Amy Bumgarner, Commanding Officer US Air Force Special Investigations Academy, Federal Law Enforcement Training, Glynco, GA , and Linda J Seawell, Veteran's Council of the Golden Isles "American Patriot Award" recipient, at Glynn County's annual Memorial Day Remembrance.
"Memorial Day is a time to pause, honor, and remember those who paid the ultimate price to protect America and defend freedom around the world. Memorial Day began at the national level on May 30, 1868, as Decoration Day, with a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to honor fallen Civil War soldiers. In fact, this weekend marks the 150th anniversary of that first “Memorial Day” remembrance, when Congressman James Garfield—who would later become president—addressed a crowd of more than 5,000 at Arlington Cemetery. This tradition continued to grow, and following World War I, Decoration Day became a day of remembrance of all soldiers, sailors, and Marines who died in service to their nation, not just the Civil War."Read more
Pictured: Students of SSCS, Faculty and Staff. Photo Credit: Unknown SSCS Proud Parent. Hi-Res copy click-here.
Students of Saint Simons Christian School, visiting Atlanta and touring the Georgia State Capitol, meet with Representative Jeff Jones, to learn about the legislative process. "Our son, now in college, attended SSCS from kindergarten through 5th grade," explained Rep. Jones. "It's an excellent school providing a high-quality education through a Biblical world-view. For years after our son moved on, I served on their Board and, as a volunteer, took care of their computer network. It was great to spend time with these students this week."
Learn more about Saint Simons Christian School, Click here!