Legislative Update 3-28-16

Legislative Update 3-28-16

Friends,

That’s a wrap! After forty legislative days, the General Assembly is adjourned Sine Die.  From passing a balanced budget, to protecting religious freedom, and restoring our 2nd Amendment Rights, the General Assembly worked diligently to advance legislation that ensures a better tomorrow for Georgia families and businesses. Here are some highlights:

Passing a Balanced Budget

This year, the General Assembly passed a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2016-2017 that prioritizes K-12 and higher education, economic development, criminal justice reform, and infrastructure.  Through conservative budgeting practices, Georgia weathered the Great Recession and remains on the path to fiscal prosperity.

Criminal Justice Reform

Through major reforms to our Criminal Justice system, we are saving money, reducing recidivism rates, and keeping our streets and communities safe.

This year, the General Assembly allocated funds for the expansion of our state’s accountability courts and community-based treatment centers for juveniles. We also gave a much needed pay raise to our corrections officers.

Protecting our 2nd Amendment Rights

This year, Georgia lawmakers pushed back against extreme legislation that would ban and seize certain types of weapons and ammunition.  We also passed HB 859, which allows law-abiding, licensed students to carry a concealed firearm on a college campus.  HB 792, which allows tasers and stun guns on university grounds, was also passed.

Religious Freedom

The House and Senate passed legislation to protect religious freedom in Georgia.  House Bill 757 combines the Pastor Protection Act and language from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to ensure that people of faith are never forced to violate their religious beliefs.  This legislation clearly bans discrimination of any kind.

Regulation of Drones

We passed legislation this year to prevent drones from violating the privacy rights of Georgia citizens and to prevent the use of drones as weapons. Exceptions are made for law enforcement agencies searching for lost children or escaped prisoners.

Fireworks Sales

In November, you will see a Constitutional Amendment that allows the sales tax revenues from fireworks sales to be used solely for trauma care in Georgia.  Please study this issue carefully so you can make an informed decision at the ballot box.

Protecting Life

HB 555 was agreed to by both bodies of the legislature and will head to the Governor’s Desk for his signature.  This legislation requires the Juvenile Court and Administrative Office of the Courts to compile and deliver statistics on girls 17 and younger who seek an abortion without notifying their parents. HB 555 will ensure accurate reporting and help as we fight to protect life in Georgia.

Honoring Archer Students

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Archer High School’s seniors with the highest academic record along with the Star Student and Star Teacher were recently recognized in the Georgia House of Representatives for their accomplishments. Pictured left to right are Representative Chandler; Jasmine Moore, Valedictorian; John Golden, Star Student; Governor Deal; Morgan Lewis, Salutatorian; and Ms. Jennifer Callaway, Star Teacher

The session is over, but my service to our community continues.  If there is anything I can do to help you, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.0254), e-mail (Joyce.Chandler@House.Ga.Gov) or engage on Facebook.  It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly, and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Sincerely,

Joyce Chandler
District 105
Georgia General Assembly

Legislative Update 2-21-16

Legislative Update 2-21-16

Friends,

After a restful Presidents’ Day, the General Assembly went back to work for the people of Georgia.

House Passes Fiscal Year 2017 Budget

On Friday, the House passed a balanced budget that priorities education, healthcare, transportation, public safety, and economic development.

The 2017 budget includes $124.1 million for enrollment growth and new teachers; $300 million to end teacher furlough days, increase instructional days, and provide teacher pay raises; $543.1 million for capital construction; $204.7 million for routine maintenance on roads and bridges; $41 million in additional funding for Local Maintenance and Improvement Grants (LMIG); and $3.8 million to expand the state’s accountability courts.

Zell Miller Scholarship for Home School Students

On Tuesday, the House passed HB 798.  This legislation allows home school students with high enough standardized test scores (93rd percentile – SAT of 1350 or ACT of 29) to be eligible for the Zell Miller Scholarship upon entering college rather than retroactively.  This is in comparison to the requirement for students from public or private accredited schools to have an SAT or ACT at the 80th percentile (1200 or 26) and a 3.7 grade point average to receive the Zell Miller upon entering college.

Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act

Last week, I was a co-signer on HB 1013, which makes major reforms to the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program. HB 1013 allows parents to be more involved in the use of scholarship funds, transfers administrative duties from the Department of Education to the Office of Student Achievement, and improves reporting and oversight.  The Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act received a Second Reading on Wednesday, and I am eager to help this bill through the Education Committee.

As we enter into the final weeks of session, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.0254), e-mail (Joyce.chandler@House.Ga.Gov) or engage on Facebook with your feedback.  It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly, and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Sincerely,

Joyce Chandler
District 105
Georgia General Assembly

Legislative Update 2-7-16

Legislative Update 2-7-16

Friends,

Last week, the House passed the Amended Fiscal Year 2016 budget.  This week, we began working on the budget for next year (Fiscal Year 2017).  Unlike the federal government, we don’t print money; and we are required to balance the state’s budget every year.  That’s why the Appropriations Subcommittees are hard at work to ensure that their budget recommendations not only reflect our legislative priorities, but are also grounded in reality.  I look forward to reporting back as the budget process continues.

This week, the House and Senate paused to honor and applaud our firefighters.  “Firefighter Day” at the Capitol included bagpipes and a tribute to our brave men and women in uniform.  I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Gwinnett County Fire Department for their service.  I hope you will join me in praying for their continued safety!

We honored several people and organizations in the State Capitol.  I was excited to commend Mr. Clark Howard through HR 1214 for sponsoring the Clark’s Christmas Kids Program for Georgia’s foster children over the past twenty-five years.  I also formally congratulated the Duluth Men’s Soccer team through HR 1197 for winning the State Championship last year.  The community is proud of this team’s achievements both on and off the field!

We also expressed our appreciation for the thousands of school counselors in Georgia by issuing a proclamation declaring “School Counseling Week” in Georgia.  These hardworking professionals guide our students towards a brighter future, and we are incredibly thankful for their dedication and passion.

The House unanimously passed House Bill 801 this week to change the GPA weighting system for HOPE Scholarship recipients who take certain science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses.  We also passed House Bill 402, which is an effort to increase business partnerships and participation with local public school systems for K-12 work based learning programs.  To learn more about HB 801 or HB 402, click HERE.

As always, thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve in the General Assembly.   If I can ever be of service to you or your family, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.  My office phone number is 404.656.0254 and my e-mail address is Joyce.Chandler@house.ga.gov.

Sincerely,

Joyce Chandler
District 105
Georgia General Assembly

Legislative Update 1-30-16

Legislative Update 1-30-16

Friends,

Following the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday last week, Governor Nathan Deal presented his recommendations for the Amended Fiscal Year 2016 and Fiscal Year 2017 budgets to the House and Senate appropriations committees and subcommittees.

After careful vetting, the Amended Fiscal Year 2016 budget, which includes $1.1 billion in additional funding for prioritized education initiatives and key transportation projects, was passed unanimously in the House and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

The Amended Fiscal Year 2016 Budget includes:

  • $519 million for capital construction projects
  • $200 million for scheduled maintenance
  • $336 million in Local Maintenance and Improvement Grants (LMIG)
  • $109.9 million for midterm enrollment growth
  • $14.9 million to enhance wireless broadband connectivity
  • $30 million for the HOPE/Zell Miller Scholarships, $525,808 in new funds for the North Georgia Military Scholarship Grant
  • $20.2 million for the Move on When Ready program

Also, last week Governor Deal announced a huge economic development win for Gwinnett County! Thanks to strong leadership on the state and local level, healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente is building a new, $51 million customer service center in Duluth.  This facility will create more than 800 new jobs over the next four years.  This is great news for our community, and I look forward to breaking ground on this exciting project.

As your representative, I am working hard to introduce and carry bills that will strengthen our district and move Georgia forward.  Here is a list of legislation that I filed this session:

HB 744 closes a loophole in our Georgia law regarding the prohibition of sexual contact between school personnel and students by adding, “all adult employees of a school,” rather than just those who have supervisory or disciplinary authority.  This will be an added protection for our children and young people.

HB 798 will reduce the requirement for a homeschool student to receive the Hope Scholarship from the 80th to the 75th percentile and allow those with an SAT or ACT at the 93rd or higher percentile to receive the Zell Miller Scholarship upon entering college.  This in no way makes the requirement for eligible and ineligible students equal, just more equitable using standardized test scores.

HB 395 clarifies present law by stating that psychological testing (instruments that measure mental abilities, personality characteristics, or neuropsychological functioning in order to diagnose, evaluate, classify, or treat mental and nervous disorders and illnesses including organic brain disorders and brain damage) is part of the practice of psychology.  This bill does NOT exclude counselors from administering educational and vocational tests, interest inventories, tests that evaluate marital and family functioning, and mental health symptom screening instruments.

HB 555 will ensure that all women seeking an abortion, whether surgical or chemical, are provided informed consent prior to an abortion being performed.  It will also ensure that abortion providers report the manner of the disposal of fetal remains and that the Department of Public Health has accurate reporting on the number of minor girls allowed to have an abortion without parental notice.

HB 161 allows a tax credit for contributions used for children requiring more than the base level of watchful oversight from registered childcare institutions and agencies.

To follow these bills through the legislative process, click HERE.

As always, thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve in the General Assembly.   If I can ever be of service to you or your family, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.  My office phone number is 404.656.0254 and my e-mail address is Joyce.Chandler@house.ga.gov.

Sincerely,

Joyce Chandler
District 105
Georgia General Assembly