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Week 6 Session Update

Week 6 Session Update
Noah Gordy (center), student at Toombs County Middle School, with Rep. Leesa Hagan (left) and Speaker Jon Burns (right). Noah served as Rep. Hagan’s House Page last week.
Week 6 Session Update
Noah Gordy (center), student at Toombs County Middle School, with Rep. Leesa Hagan (left) and Speaker Jon Burns (right). Noah served as Rep. Hagan’s House Page last week.

The Georgia Ho u s e of Repr esentatives kicked off the sixth week of the 2024 leg i slative session on February 12. We convened in the Chamber for four days and made significant progress as we passed 34 bills and resolutions by the end of the week to send to our Senate counterparts. On Tuesday, we reached Legislative Day 20, which means we are now more than halfway through our 40-day session.

A Second Chance

House Bill 909, which I am proud to sponsor, passed out of the House unanimously last Tuesday. It would automatically restrict and seal the records of an individual who is sentenced under Georgia’s First Offenders Act. Our FO Act was put in place in 1968 to prevent an isolated mistake from leading to a lifetime of barriers to the workforce, housing, and more. While the intent has always remained the same, because unsealed court documents can be found on the internet by private background check companies, the FO Act has lost much of its effectiveness over time.

Georgia Crime Information Center data shows that only about 2% of those receiving a FO sentence are not successful in completing it, so this legislation has potential to have a significant positive impact on Georgia’s workforce. It is important to note that at any point someone violates his or her FO sentence, records would be unsealed. While it is necessary to be tough on crime to protect our communities and families, it is also important to show compassion for those who are willing to correct past mistakes. This bill now moves across the hall for Senate consideration. AEDs in Public Schools

This week, we also passed House Bill 874, which would require every public school in Georgia to have a functional automated external defibrillator (AED) machine on the premises of school grounds at all times and during school-related functions. This crucial legislation would safeguard the well-being of Georgia’s students, teachers, staff, and school visitors by making sure they have access to this lifesaving equipment. HB 874 would empower teachers and school staff to respond effectively in emergency situations. This bill now moves over to the Senate.

Protect our Border

Passed along party lines, House Resolution 1019 establishes the Georgia House of Representatives’ opinion regarding the United States’ southern border. We have established that the Biden administration has failed to secure the border and has therefore put the American people at significant risk. We support increased protection for America’s borders in the pursuit of ending illegal immigration and smuggling. We further support Governor Kemp’s efforts to aid the state of Texas in defending herself and call on the federal government to finish building the border wall.

Other Bills Passed

Other bills and resolutions passed in the House last week include:

House Bill 282 would provide a significant step to enhance career preparedness among middle and high school students. The bill underscores the importance of practical instruction and training experiences with a focus on equipping students with essential skills for the workforce. The Department of Education would be tasked with assembling comprehensive resources and materials on career readiness and employability, ensuring that state public schools have access to vital tools for student success. This legislation would pave the way for a more robust and effective approach in preparing our youth for future career paths.

House Bill 576 would prohibit an individual’s Covid vaccine status from being used to determine whether a person is eligible for an organ transplant.

House Bill 925, or the Protecting Religious Assembly in States of Emergency (PRAISE) Act – would prohibit any governmental entity from discriminating against and closing a place of worship during an emergency or health/safety situation. In other words, if any business or government office is permitted to open during a state of emergency, places of worship would also be afforded the same right.

House Bill 984 would allow for developmentally or physically disabled individuals to remain on their parent or guardian’s insurance beyond the cutoff age.

House Bill 1010 – expands parental leave for state employees and teachers. This bill would modify the current law by extending paid parental leave for state employees to six weeks. Recognizing that the current three-week period following the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child often falls short for many parents, HB 1010 would grant parents additional time at home with their families. By expanding this benefit, our state could also retain and recruit the best and brightest workforce.

House Bill 1022,

the Colton-McNeill Act would fortify protections for disabled minors by elevating penalties for acts of cruelty against them. The legislation would address a critical gap in existing laws and would impose harsher consequences for perpetrators who target vulnerable children. By increasing penalties, the bill would send a clear message that our state will not tolerate the mistreatment of disabled children, striving to safeguard their well-being and ensure justice for those who suffer from these reprehensible acts. Visitors to the Capitol

This past week, there were many visitors to the Capitol from the 156th district.

Noah Gordy, a student at Toombs County Middle School, served as my House Page on Monday. His parents, Ashley and Jonathan, joined us in the Chamber, as well. I’m thankful Noah was able to assist us in conducting our legislative business of the day.

Also on Monday, Ursula Spence spent the day spreading a very worthwhile message during Cancer Prevention Day at the Capitol.

Representatives from Altamaha EMC and Canoochee EMC met with me and several other legislators to advocate for policies benefiting members of their cooperatives.

Kim Clark, Wheeler County Tax Commissioner, attended Constitutional Officers Association Day at the Capitol.

The Ben Hill County and Toombs County 4-H students were a part of what is being called the largest group of 4-Hers to ever visit the Capitol. I can tell they are learning a great deal about their state government based on the large number of informed questions they asked during our time together over lunch.

Mallorie Corley, Toombs County FCCLA Advisor, brought her Family, Career, & Community Leaders of America group to the Capitol. We are fortunate to have so many adults in our community who are willing to invest their time and energy in tomorrow’s leaders.

The Georgia House of Representatives will reconvene for our seventh week of session on Tuesday, February 20. I invite you to share any questions or concerns you have about legislation under consideration via email at Leesa. Also, if you plan to visit the Capitol over the next few weeks, please let me know. I’d love to meet with you. As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative.

Rep. Leesa Hagan (left) with Wheeler County Tax Commissioner Kim Clark (right), who visited Atlanta for the Constitutional Officers Association Day at the Capitol.

By Leesa Hagan R-Vidalia (District 156, Georgia House of Representatives)

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