The Georgia Senate crossed legislative day 16 off the calendar this week as we completed the fourth legislative week. Several bills received Senate approval this week, and it is likely that the amended FY 2016 budget will be presented on the floor within the next couple of weeks. The Georgia General Assembly has only one constitutionally required task, and that is to pass a balanced budget each year. Our duty to carefully vet and approve legislation remains important; however, one of our most critical responsibilities is the fiscally responsible allocation of Georgia’s tax dollars.

The House of Representatives has passed its version of the amended FY 2016 budget, and subcommittees of the Senate Appropriations Committee have spent a significant amount of time carefully reviewing their respective sections of the budget. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I take this task very seriously. It is important to ensure that state revenues are utilized in the most cost-effective manner possible and that ensure no wasteful spending occurs.

The Senate took a stand against family violence by passing Senate Bill 193 this week. Under current Georgia law, a first conviction of family violence batter is only considered a high and aggravated misdemeanor—it takes a second conviction in order to be charged with a felony. Senate Bill 193 amends this law and increases penalties for repeat family violence offenders by charging those already convicted of family violence in another state with a felony.

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 199, which clarifies the definition of allowable campaign material at active polling locations in Georgia. Most campaign material is not allowed in or around these locations; however, there has been some confusion about prohibited publications, objects and signs. This bill would provide polling workers with new guidelines about what is considered campaign material.

I am honored that you have put your trust in me and I will always put your best interests at the forefront of my decision making while here at the Capitol. Please feel free to contact my office at any time to talk about pending legislation or address other concerns in our district – my door and phone lines are always open!