During my time in office, I have made a commitment to focus on sponsoring meaningful legislation for the betterment of Georgia and her citizens. Despite my short tenure in the Senate, I have been extremely effective, having almost 30 bills signed into law by the Governor. I strive to serve our community as a leader who focuses on solutions to key challenges.
In the Senate, I have championed a number of positive reform efforts in areas including education, transportation funding, business law, construction procurement, tax reduction, welfare reform, veterans and intergovernmental affairs. Fueled by a passion for responsible government, I constantly work to challenge the status quo. Through my proposed legislation, I have proven that rising above what is expected is possible, and I will continue to do so in an effective and responsible manner.
Sponsored Legislative Highlights
I believe that every child – every family – should have access to the best options for education at the K-12 level. Improved public schools as well as additional options through charter schools and improved access to private schools are vital for Georgia families. Improving public schools includes creating a teacher compensation system that revolves around excellence in the classroom, not length of service.
This past year, I was proud to vote for the largest increase in teacher compensation and education funding since 2007. In addition, during my first two terms, I have sponsored a number of bills that focus on education reforms, empowering families with options for where and how to education their children. I will continue to fight for this important cause to help all of our Georgia families.
Senate Bill 92
In 2015, I filed Senate Bill 92. This bill creates an Education Savings Account for Georgians who find their public school is not working for them. SB 92 would allow the state portion of the money that follows the child (average of around $4500 per year) to be used for private school tuition, tutoring, homeschooling or other educational needs. Should this bill pass it could truly improve the lives of thousands of Georgians who are stuck in a school that is not serving them well. Unfortunately, SB 92 was not passed the last legislative session, but I look forward to bringing this legislation forward in future sessions.
Senate Bill 321 was filed to protect owners of commercial properties from a burdensome and intrusive city ordinance approved by the City of Atlanta. Last year, the city council unanimously approved a measure which requires property owners to report a building’s utilities and energy costs to the city. SB 321 allows building owners the option to participate in the city’s initiative. Currently, property owners are forced to participate in the program making these expenses public – expenses that business owners may consider proprietary or private information.While I support Georgia’s cities and counties in their efforts to encourage sustainable development and energy consumption, I do not support the use of government power to push businesses into making costly investments.
Senate Bill 389
Senate Bill 389, which I authored regarding welfare reform, is a viable plan to improve our current welfare system. This legislation does three important things to help people move up and out of dependency on government benefits:
- Removes the disincentive for marriage: Currently, once a couple gets married, the female immediately losses her benefit. I believe that marriage is a positive step for families working to break the poverty cycle. Marriage should not be discouraged by government policies. This legislation will allow the newly married couple to continue collecting benefits for 6 months.
- Creates a Cash Diversion Program: Under the present welfare program in Georgia, if someone falls on hard times, they are required to sign up for monthly benefits. This requirement has been proven to keep people on the rolls. The creation of a cash diversion program will allow someone to get a lump sum of cash (once in their lifetime) to deal with a single event in order to back on their feet.
- Creates Sanctions: In Georgia, we currently have a work requirement to receive a welfare benefit; however it is rarely enforced. These sanctions will add a layer of accountability, which is necessary to move people out of dependency and toward self-sufficiency.
I was honored to carry The Georgia Right to Try Act through the Senate. This bill will allow terminally ill patients to access to promising drugs and treatments that have not yet been approved by the FDA. The patient must provide written informed consent and healthcare providers are not required to cover treatment costs. Caregivers cannot be held liable for the injury or death of a patient undergoing these “last option” treatments.
I successfully carried House Bill 991 in the Senate. This bill waives penalties and interest for military service members who fail to pay ad valorem taxes due to combat zone deployment. The service member must pay the balance of the outstanding taxes within 60 days of returning from deployment.
As a military veteran, I was proud to carry House Bill 1072 in the Senate. This bill would allow active members of the Georgia National Guard to receive service cancellable educational loans if they qualify for the Hope Scholarship. Georgia National Guard members will be have the opportunity to reduce their college loans, or in some cases eliminated, based on their military service. This bill not only allows Georgia’s service members receive an education they need at a fair and economical cost, but shows gratitude for their service.