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Tillery: Week 9 Highlights

It was another busy week in the State Senate as we moved full speed toward “Crossover Day.” Crossover Day marks the last day that bills are able to be passed over to the House for consideration and falls on March 15 this year. We are hard at work to get legislation across the hall and on its way to Governor Kemp’s desk. Also exciting — the Capitol has returned to “normal” with student groups, advocacy organizations filling the building and rope line outside of the Chamber as we hopefully bid farewell to Covid-19 for good. I am happy to see more and more citizens visiting again and filling the halls. In terms of legislation, we continued strides towards cracking down on online censorship, prohibiting Georgia’s agencies from contracting with the Government of Russia and prohibiting the teachings of divisive concepts in public schools. Perhaps the biggest development came from Governor Kemp’s office as he announced on Wednesday the General Assembly’s plan to temporarily halt the state gas tax, which will provide a much needed relief to Georgians across the state.

Over the past year, the average price of a gallon of gas has risen from $2.59 to $4.06 (nearly a 56% increase). Researchers estimate that the average American household could spend upwards of an additional $2,000 per year on gas as a result of skyrocketing oil prices. This doesn’t even take into account the ongoing inflation that has already impacted families across the state. Governor Kemp intends to take matters into his own hands and do Georgia’s part to alleviate the burden on so many Georgians. House Bill 304 will temporarily halt the state gas tax for consumers until May 31, 2022. The cost of this legislation is approximately $180 million a month, so its not cheap! But I believe this is a necessary step to help provide relief to Georgia families and businesses working to untangle an already stressed supply chain. I look forward to keeping you updated on the progression of this bill.

I mentioned a bill cracking down on online censorship. Senate Bill 393, also called the “Common Carrier Non-Discrimination Act,” attempts to do just that. Big Tech companies and online platforms have in many ways become the 21st century version of the public square. These platforms, however, have gone unchecked on censoring free speech while using our online data to line their own pockets. During the 2022 legislative session, we have fought for online security by curbing ‘shadow banning’ and requiring ‘opt-out’ choices for users. SB 393 also requires that a common carrier shall not censor or discriminate against a user, a user’s expression or a user’s ability to receive the expression of another person based on the viewpoint of the user or another person and the viewpoint represented in the user’s expression or another person’s expression.

Senate Bill 562 also passed the Senate this week. SB 562 prohibits any state agency in Georgia from engaging in any business contract with any company owned or operated by the Government of Russia or Belarus. Additionally, SB 562 requires any company submitting a bid for a contract with a Georgia state agency certify it is not owned or operated by the Government of Russia or Belarus.

It’s no secret our state needs workers. Many times, graduates are not yet ready to really make a difference in the workforce. On-the-job training is still necessary. Senate Bill 379, which passed the Senate Tuesday, aims to prepare workers for real jobs facing Georgia businesses. SB 379 creates an expanded apprenticeship program and provides monetary incentives of up to $10,000.00 per apprenticeship to employers who successfully take on apprentices. An employer can take on up to 5 apprentices per year.

Senate Bill 377 passed the Senate on Friday. SB 377 prohibits local boards of education and state agencies from teaching or promoting certain divisive concepts. These divisive concepts include curricula that promote the concept that the United States is inherently racist, that one race or ethnicity is inherently superior or inferior to another or that an individual’s moral character is determined by their skin color or ethnicity. These are concepts that an overwhelming majority of Georgians outright reject. No student should be taught to feel guilty or “less than” another because of how they were born, and scapegoating and stereotyping are not acceptable teaching methods.

In addition to bills with statewide impact, local pieces of legislation for Telfair,

By Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) continued from page

Wheeler, Montgomery, Tattnall, Long, Wayne, Jeff Davis and Treutlen counties have all passed the Senate. Senator Tyler Harper of District 7 has still handled any local legislation for Bacon and Coffee Counties. Sen. Harper qualified earlier this week to run to be our state’s next Agriculture Commissioner, and I support him fully in his race.

Speaking of qualifying, this week I qualified to run for the State Senate again in November. I appreciate the support you have given me for the past 5 years, and I look forward to doing my best to earn your vote again in November. Please continue to reach out with any comments or concerns that matter most to you, and thank you for the opportunity to represent you in Atlanta.

Sen. Blake Tillery serves as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He represents the 19th Senate District, which includes Appling, Jeff Davis, Long, Montgomery, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne, and Wheeler counties and a portion of Liberty and Tattnall counties. The 19th District is expected to add Bacon and parts of Coffee County in 2023. He can be reached by email at blake.

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