For more information regarding 2016 legislation, please visit my current legislative summary
Education should be a top priority for all of Georgia and I am a strong supporter of making sure that each child has the best opportunity for success. A great education can change everything and provides a way for a person to rise above social issues to become financially independent through gainful employment. A well educated work force is critical to the health of our State and a comprehensive review of the K-12 education model is needed so that it can be more accessible and effective for all students.
Some of my recent contributions to this area include:
Senate Bill 409 – requires every public school to post a sign containing a toll-free telephone number for reports of child abuse or neglect
Senate Bill 312 – clarifies definitions of the HOPE Scholarship award program and establishes a minimum award amount
Senate Resolution 918 – recognizes the Emory Scholars Program and its mission, and the individuals within the program for their leadership skills and contributions to the community
Senate Bill 133 – I am fortunate to serve as the State Senator for District 43 representing Newton, Rockdale, and DeKalb. On the General election ballot, there is a lot of concern about Amendment #1. As an educator for over 25 years, I personally know that many of our children across Georgia struggle academically. The intent of SB 133 was to help students who have been in failing schools for over 3 years by creating a new agency called the OSD. I understand the importance of making sure that every child is able to thrive and reach their fullest potential.
Although it is heartbreaking to hear of any child who has been kept in a school that is not performing well, passing the Opportunity School District amendment is not something that I can support. As a conservative, I believe in less government and more local control, therefore I do not think the creation of another agency to handle this issue is in the best interest of the students, community, or taxpayers of Georgia. We are fortunate that Rockdale and Newton do not have any schools on the failing school list, but there were originally 26 in DeKalb county. The threat of OSD has created some terrific initiatives and a focused effort on making our poorest performing schools better through new ideas, parent engagement, and improved leadership, and in fact has reduced the failing schools to 3 in DeKalb. This has been done under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Greene and his leadership team.
As a state that is focused on business expansion and a global economy, we must do better for all of our children and families in Georgia in order to be more competitive. I serve on the State Senate Education committee and have continued to prioritize improving education through changes in the funding formula to better address classroom instruction and student support, stop teaching to the test, and improve parent accountability. I applaud all 3 of my school boards in District 43 for their resolutions against the Opportunity School District and will continue to work with them to find solutions to our statewide education issues. Community feedback is important in my efforts to best represent our district and I look forward to hearing from concerned citizens with their ideas and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform
It is of utmost importance that our community encompasses a safe environment. With the ever increasing threat of crime, it is important our law enforcing bodies have the means by which to protect their citizens. I support measures that further promote this safe environment, as well as recognize our hardworking law enforcement agencies. Nothing is more important than ensuring and protecting the rights of our citizens. As a champion of ethics reform, I also support measures that would increase transparency in government and create a system of accountability.
Bills and resolutions I have sponsored in this area include:
Senate Resolution 792 – recognizes and commends Georgia State Trooper First Class Nathan Bradley, Georgia State Patrol Corporal Richard Thacker, and Morgan County Sheriff Robert Markley for all of their hard work and dedication
Senate Resolution 1083 – creates the Senate Criminal Justice Reform Study Committee
Senate Resolution 1098 – creates the Senate Crime Study Committee
Senate Bill 278 – specifies and creates new penalties for certain serious criminal offenses
I also support the Governor’s recommendation for increased training to include a more rigorous training program for officers when dealing with potentially dangerous situations and mentally ill people. The object is to see fewer encounters resulting in violence or deadly force. I support this initiative because the high level of turnover means that there is a greater chance of incidence with the public that is unjust. Additionally, state officers with arresting powers will receive a 20% raise.
Jobs and Workforce Development
Employment is an essential component to moving the State of Georgia forward. Our State currently ranks 4th in the nation for a persons’ inability to move out of poverty. This is an unacceptable place for Georgia to be and we must do better. Job training, education opportunities, alternative education opportunities for high school students, and better job networks will lead to higher rates of well trained employees who will be able to reduce their need for government assistance. I have been in the community connecting people to employment opportunities, resume writing, and helping with career guidance.
Some of my contributions to this field include:
Senate Resolution 852 – recognizes the South River Watershed Alliance for their creation of the South River Water Trail, which will become a part of the outdoor recreation industry that provides 6.1 million jobs in the United States
A focal point of my experience has been the growth and development of our business community. We must retain and expand our current businesses. We must work hand in hand with the State Economic Development office to bring new partners to our State, and especially District 43, that will provide jobs, occupy current buildings, provide new construction, and help balance our tax digest. I support efficiency in government and streamlining the application process for new and expanding businesses that will stimulate business growth and will be a win-win for creating jobs, beautify our communities, and allow us to increase tax revenues more quickly.
Bills I have sponsored in this area include:
Senate Bill 333 – allows nonprofit corporations organized in a foreign jurisdiction to change their jurisdictions of organization to this state
Great medical care is something that few get to enjoy in our State and I will work towards a patient-centered, prevention-focused free market. We must focus on healthcare reform legislation that will make healthcare and insurance more affordable for Georgia’s working families.
My contributions to this area include:
Senate Bill 273 – specifies that certain non-diagnostic laboratories do not require a state license as a clinical laboratory
Protecting the 2nd Amendment
I support the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms and will work with citizens to develop and protect safe communities.
Relevant bills I have sponsored include:
Senate Bill 332 – clarifies judges and justices who are exempt from specific laws and prohibitions relating to the second amendment