Newsletter 2016 Week 5

Newsletter 2016 Week 5

The 6th week of Legislative Session 2016 begins on Tuesday, February 16th this week. We are officially halfway through the legislative session and I could not be more proud to be representing Senate District 43 in the State Senate.

Last Monday the Senate passed Senate Bill 278, which increases the criminal penalties for pimping and pandering, and requires those convicted of a second offense to register with the National Sex Offense Registry. This legislation is particularly important to me, as it helps to minimize the effects of sex trafficking in our state and gives prosecutors more leeway in keeping criminals off our street. If you are interested in hearing more on this issue, click here to watch a video of my analysis on SB 278.

Tuesday also marked an important day for me as we celebrated Women’s Caucus Day at the Capital. Formed in 1990, this bicameral and bipartisan caucus brings female legislators of the General Assembly together to work on issues important to Georgia women and their families. While the caucus meets weekly to discuss issues directly impacting Georgia’s women, Women’s Caucus Day allows female legislators to come together and recognize our accomplishments.

This week, I also welcomed quite a few members of the Rockdale, Newton and Conyers communities. On February 9, I celebrated Realtor Day with the East Metro Board of Realtors President Dr. Cynthia M. Davis as well as board members of both Rockdale and Newton Counties. It was an exciting day as we discussed the impact realtors have on our community in connecting families and individuals with safe and affordable housing. Trade associations such as these are integral to our economy as they promote a skilled and connected work force.

On Saturday we marked the opening of a new intersection in Porterdale at the Burger King. This project, which was funded by SPLOST, was almost $2 million and significantly improves the safety of this very busy area. Mayor Arline Chapman, Representative Dickerson, Chairman Keith Ellis and Commissioner JC Henderson joined me at the event.

Even as the session gets busier, please let me know if I can be of service in any way. With only 20 legislative days remaining, there will be more and more legislation to read, vet and vote on. I want to thank you all personally for everything you do in our community and for entrusting me to work on behalf of Georgia’s 43rd Senate District.
Senator JaNice Van Ness represents the 43rd Senate District, which includes portions of DeKalb, Newton and Rockdale counties. She may be reached at 404.463.2598 or by email at

Newsletter 2016 Week 4

Newsletter 2016 Week 4

Today marks Day 17 of the 40-day Legislative Session with 23 days of session left on our calendar. The pace is picking up here, and I am proud to be representing Senate District 43 at the Gold Dome.

Last week we passed Senate Bill 193, which amends penalties for family violence and battery, with a vote of 56 to 0, our first unanimous vote. It is always an honor and a pleasure to vote on bills such as this, especially when we can all put aside our differences and work to truly better the lives of Georgians.

Along with passing key legislation, we celebrated some very special groups this past week. We recognized representatives from the state 4-H organization who encouraged us to always remember the important role agriculture plays in our state’s economy. Along with these special guests, we also celebrated Stop Violence Against Women Day in order to bring awareness to issues that affect millions of women all across the country. We also recognized the Georgia Farm Bureau and their critical work in supporting and promoting our #1 industry in the State of Georgia – Agriculture. This industry contributes approximately $72.5 billion annually to the state’s economy, according to UGA Center for Agribusiness & Economic Development.

I also met with cadets of the Georgia Piedmont Technical College Law Enforcement Academy. As the future protectors of our state, I encouraged the cadets to act as leaders and role models for our local communities. I was very impressed with the fact that the program allows students to earn college credit while also getting POST certified. This allows them to be very close to earning their Associates Degree by completing the course that is full time for 17 weeks.

I am also pleased to announce that one of our community initiatives is well under way. The Granite Crossing in the City of Lithonia was awarded grant money in 2015, which will fund the development through 2016. The property will have 74 affordable housing units and I am told that tenants may begin moving in as early as January 2017.

It is an honor to serve as the senator from Senate District 43. To receive periodic emails specific to your interests in District 43, visit my website at Do not hesitate to reach out to me with your concerns and questions. My door and phone lines are always open. I look forwarding to having our community members at the Capitol!


Senator JaNice Van Ness represents the 43rd Senate District, which includes portions of DeKalb, Newton and Rockdale counties. She may be reached at 404.463.2598 or by email at

Newsletter 2016 Week 3

2016 Legislative Session – Week 4 Underway

Mr. Gregory B. Levett, Sr., was honored on Sunday, January 31, at St. Philip AME in the beautiful fellowship hall for his outstanding achievement of being named as the Funeral Director of the year in North America by American Funeral Director magazine. I was glad to participate in the celebration of Mr. Levett’s years of service to our community.

As an educator and a mother, the wellbeing of Georgia’s children has been and will always be a top priority of mine. Last Tuesday during Human Trafficking Awareness Day at the Capitol, I stood at the front of the Senate chamber with Senator Renee Unterman and others in support of last year’s passage of Senate Bill 8, or Rachel’s Law, and highlighted the many ways Georgians can step in to help end human trafficking.

Kasey McClure is a living example of someone who is actively working to help those most affected by human trafficking, women and girls in the sex trade industry.  McClure visited the Capitol as part of Human Trafficking Awareness Month to talk about 4Sarah, a Conyers-based organization McClure founded to encourage vulnerable women, give them strength to leave adult entertainment, and make life changes through education, work training, and safe living conditions. For more information, please visit the 4Sarah website.

This week we are fully involved in the committee process. Each bill will travel through its assigned committee, which determines whether the bill will move to the Senate floor for a full vote. The public is always welcome to attend committee meetings, where legislation is fully examined.

Don’t forget! Today is the last day to register to vote in March 1 Presidential Primary.

Also, the deadline for submissions for our art contest with the theme ‘District 43, My Home,’ is coming up soon. The contest is for artists of all ages and skill levels. Details are available here.

If you’d like to receive periodic emails specific to your interests in District 43, visit my website at and sign up for my newsletter. I’m honored to serve as your senator. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with your concerns and questions. My door and phone lines are always open.

Senator JaNice Van Ness represents the 43rd Senate District, which includes portions of DeKalb, Newton and Rockdale counties. She may be reached at 404.463.2598 or by email at

First Letter of the Administration

Rockdale County Citizens Forum TONIGHT
I will be in attendance at the town hall hosted by Rep. Dee Dawkins Haigler tonight, January 21st, from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Nancy Guinn Memorial Library at 1864 Green Street, SW, Conyers, 30012.  This town hall meeting will address increasing the number of Board of Election members meetings from three to five, and increasing the Board of Commissioners number from three to five members. This is an important opportunity to have your questions answered by your legislators. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to join me in attending tonight.
I just found out about this meeting last night, so I am simply sharing information.

The 2016 Georgia General Assembly – Week 1
The Capitol has come alive as we convened for the second session of the 153rd Georgia General Assembly. This year promises to be fast-paced, but offers endless opportunities to strengthen our state’s position as a top place to live, to work, and to play.

January 11 marked the first day of the 2016 Legislative Session. Since this is the second session of a biennial term, all the bills that did not pass last year are eligible for reconsideration, in addition to any new legislation put forth this year. We are preparing for a faster, more efficient 40-day session this year, so we are already in the process of vetting new and pending legislation.

As we wrap up this biennium, your legislators will be pushing to pass legislation that improves the lives of people throughout the state. Religious liberty and education are top priorities for me, and I look forward to working on these issues throughout the next 40 legislative days. 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.

Friend and Follow Senator VanNess and Opt In for News More Frequently 
Soon we’ll be sending out a notice to ‘opt-in’ to our weekly newsletter that details many of my activities at the Capitol. All members on this list of supporters will continue to receive newsletters, just not as often.

Also, please take a moment to follow me on social media, by clicking on the links above. Help me spread the good news of District 43!
Issues of Interest

Just because we are expecting to have a quicker legislative session this year, this does not mean we will have a shortage of issues. I expect that we will be revisiting many topics addressed last year including education reform, religious liberty, the Transportation Funding Act of 2015, and a couple of issues I am not favorable toward expanding in Georgia: medical marijuana and the legalization of casino gambling. I expect the preservation of the HOPE Scholarship, teacher merit pay, and a plan to reduce the amount of student testing to also be high on the list of priorities for the session.

Rockdale Republican Party meeting will be on February 4 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Amici’s.   All are welcome so please come early to network.  Persons interested in running for elected office in 2016 should speak with Chairman Toby Dryer at (404) 406-8739 or  Precinct Mass Meeting kicks off the delegate selection process and is coming up on February 20th.

Visit me at the Capitol! 
I am getting settled in to my office in the Paul Coverdell building (324-B) that is next door to the Capitol.  I would love for community members to visit me throughout the session.  We are working on making our office representative of District 43 and we are having an art contest with 3 tiers:  Middle School, High School and Adult entries.  The theme for the contest is “District 43, My Home.” Winners will be announced on February 6 and will be eligible to have their picture made locally or at the Capitol as well as a tour of the Capitol and being a legislative page for the day.  The deadline for submissions is February 4 and entries should be delivered to Peachtree Academy located at 1801 Ellington Road.   From the Monastery and other key tourist attractions to a variety of vibrant community areas & talented artists – we have a rich and unique heritage that I would love to highlight for visitors.

Senate pages
I will have openings for at least 15 pages during the legislative session, which normally runs from January 11 through late March.  Email notices of interest from the student to  Please include the students name, age, grade level, address, phone number, school name and grade point average.  For more information, please read the latest Page information that will answer pertinent questions.  The preferred deadline is January 20.  At least one applicant per school is desired. Students must be at least 12 years of age.

Thank you for your support during 2016.  If I can be of service, please do not hesitate to call me at my new address:
Senator JaNice Van Ness
324-B Coverdell Legislative Office Building
18 Capitol Square, SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

I have been blessed with a great administrative assistant, Kathleen Cominski, who is a resident of District 43!  She is very knowledgeable about the District and current issues and she is celebrating 25 years of working at the Capitol.  She looks forward to helping residents and business owners in our district.  You may reach her by calling me or