The General Assembly returned to Gold Dome for the third week of the 2020 legislative session on Monday, January 27th. The House convened on the House floor to take up business and spend time in our committees and subcommittees to listen to testimonies of area experts and to review proposed legislation. By the end of our third week in session, my colleagues and I passed multiple House bills that may be considered for a vote on the House floor.
Some of the legislation that is introduced is the result of work that we do in our study committees, councils, and commissions that hold meetings after session ends. After the 2019 legislative session, my colleagues and I spent time reviewing several important issues that impact our state to prepare for the 2020 session. Here is a short summary of what my colleagues and I accomplished during the third week.
This resolution was adopted last session and established the Georgia Commission on Freight & Logistics for the 2019 calendar year. The commission was authorized to analyze and recommend comprehensive public policy that would support our freight and logistics industries. The commission heard from experts in the industry in order to identify ways to transport freight with more efficiency, which will ultimately create jobs and boost the economy.
This week, the joint House and Senate Transportation Committee approved the Georgia Commission on Freight & Logistics’ final report and legislative recommendations. The commission’s proposal seeks to address the top issues that were identified last year. Some of these top issues were workforce development, truck parking, freight rail investment, and funding gaps. The commission has recommended that their work be extended through 2020 so that they might continue to develop solutions for some of these key issues. Therefore, the House Transportation Committee approved House Resolution 935 this week, which would reauthorize the commission for the 2020 calendar year.
This resolution authorized the House Rural Development Council, which continues to seek solutions to help improve the economic opportunities of rural areas all across the state. This past week the council submitted several legislative recommendations that would continue to support communities and businesses in rural Georgia. Some of these recommendations include supporting our agricultural industry, expanding funding for rural broadband deployment and addressing mapping issues that currently overestimate the amount of broadband coverage across the state.
This resolution was adopted in 2019 to create the House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality, in order to study the high maternal mortality rate, as well as maternal health issues. Each of these groups presented in-depth final reports that included policy recommendations. This will help us create solid and effective legislation this session. Some of these recommendations were presented in committees this week, and several pieces of legislation have already been introduced this session as a result of their quality work.
Members of the House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality spent several months last year strategizing on ways to prevent maternal deaths in the state of Georgia. Some of these strategies include:
- Expanding Medicaid coverage for pregnant and postpartum women.
- Introducing legislation that would mandate a postmortem examination for any maternal death.
- Increase accessibility to health care for pregnant and postpartum women through telehealth services
Maternal health is and will remain a top priority in the House during the 2020 session, and these recommendations will guide us as we focus our legislative efforts to prevent maternal mortality.
My colleagues and I also observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday, January 27, 2020, marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. In 2019, the General Assembly passed legislation to create a memorial in the State Capitol to honor the 6 million Jews and 11 million others who lost their lives during the Holocaust. This memorial serves to both remind us all to never forget the event of the Holocaust, and to educate the citizens of Georgia, so we may never witness such an atrocity again.
The House adopted this resolution to create a memorial space to honor our friend, Jay Powell, who served as the chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee for several years before being named House Rules chairman. Because of this resolution, the House Ways and Means committee’s conference room will now be known as the Alfred Jackson “Jay” Powell Jr. conference room.
This bill is the first piece of major legislation of the 2020 session. House Bill 276 allows the state collected taxes from marketplace facilitators who make more than $100,000 or more annually, and who sell goods via online platforms or apps. This is to create a level playing field for smaller brick-and-mortar businesses who currently have sales tax charged to their products.
We anticipate next week to be even busier as we enter the fourth week of the legislative session at the State Capitol. I encourage you all to reach out with any input regarding matters that are important to you as my colleagues and I continue to take up meaningful legislation in the coming weeks. You are always welcome to come visit me at my Capitol office or you can reach me by phone at 404.656.0152. You can also email me at email@example.com or check out my Facebook Page for more updates during the 2020 Legislative Session.
Thank you for allowing me to be your State Representative. I am blessed and honored to have the opportunity. God bless you and your family.