Summary for Fourth Week of 2021 Session
The fourth week of the legislative session began on Monday, February 1, as we spent the next four days meeting with our respective committees. Many House bills were passed during this time and were sent to the Rules Committees, where they are now eligible to be called for a vote on the House floor. Governor Brian Kemp also presented more of his legislative initiatives for this session.
House Bill 86 was one of the more noteworthy bills that was sent to the Rules Committee. This is also known as the “Georgia Lottery Mobile Sports Wagering Integrity Act,” which was passed out of the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee and seeks to legalize and regulate sports betting in Georgia. Along with that, House Bill 80 would offer resources for individuals with gambling problems or addictions, enhance fan engagement and strengthen partnerships with Georgia sports teams. It was estimated that sports betting could generate $433 million in gross revenue, and the taxable revenue could add $43 million to the HOPE Scholarship fund.
The State Planning & Community Affairs Committee approved legislation to commemorate the late Georgia civil rights leader and congressman, John Lewis, and will be considered by the House Rules Committee. House Resolution 14 would create the National Statuary Hall Collection Replacement Committee, which would work to replace the statue of Alexander Hamilton Stephens in the U.S. Capitol with a statue of U.S. Rep. John Lewis.
Gov. Kemp also unveiled his major “teacher pipeline” legislative packet to recruit, prepare, mentor, and retain the best teachers for our classrooms. He intends to increase educator workforce by allowing retired teachers to return to work full-time in communities with the greatest shortage of teachers, ease certification requirements for veterans to become teachers, and give veterans first priority when enrolling for teacher preparation programs. The plan also partners with historically black colleges and universities to recruit minority educators.
A legislative package was also presented that focuses on reforming adoption and foster care. House Bill 114 would increase the state’s tax credit for families that adopt from foster care from $2,000 to $6,000 per year for five years. Additionally, House Bill 154 lowers the age an individual may adopt from 25 to 21, an attempt to make it easier for close relatives to adopt children out of foster care. Finally, Senate Bill 28 would expand training and resources for case workers that would allow our juvenile court system to better determine the safety needs of children, including those in foster care. SB 28 would also ensure that all reliable information is made available to the court in order to make decisions that are in a child’s best interest.
On Friday, Gov. Kemp rolled out House Bill 304, or the “Georgia Made Medical Manufacturing Act.” This would increase the amount of credit available under the state’s Job Tax Credit to incentivize job creation and investment in the medical equipment and pharmaceutical manufacturing industries.
Vaccines for COVID-19 continue to be administered as we hit the one million vaccination mark on February 3. More than 50,000 Georgians, 65 and older, have received the first dose of the vaccine, and Georgia’s weekly vaccine allocation increased to more than 154,000 starting this month. Gov. Kemp recently signed an executive order to allow more medically trained professionals to efficiently and safely administer the COVID- 19 vaccine.
As Georgians continue to face challenging times, we will continue to keep your best interest in mind while considering legislation throughout the session. I encourage you to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have about the bills we will vote on. You can reach me at 404-656-0188 or robert. [email protected] As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative and I hope to see you soon.
As the State Representative for District 149, Robert Pruitt serves Dodge County, Telfair County, Wheeler County, Cadwell, and Hazlehurst. During the second week of the 2021 Legislative Session, Rep Pruitt was appointed to serve on the Industry and Trade, Economic Development, and Small Business committees for the next two years. Robert and his wife Kelly have been long time residents of Eastman.
By Rep. Robert Pruitt (District 149)