The days are going by quickly now, as we wrap up our fifth week of the 2016 legislative session. We worked four efficient days this week and were able to get a lot of work done.
Monday, we passed a very important bill, SB 278. This piece of legislation would levy stricter penalties on those convicted of pimping or pandering. Additionally, it would require anyone convicted of such a crime a second time to be added to the National Sex Offender Registry. This is an important and overdue bill that is sure to help make our state a safer place. It passed in the Senate with a vote of 53-0. It will now go to the House for consideration.
Wednesday, after weeks of appropriations subcommittee meetings, the Senate made our recommendations and passed the amended FY 2016 budget. All budget bills must first be introduced in the House before coming to the Senate. The budget passed through the Senate by a vote of 49–0, after calling for an additional $1.16 billion dollars, which would bring the total amended budget to $23 billion. The revised bill was sent directly back to the House. Passing a balanced budget is the only constitutional responsibility that we have at the Capitol and is not one that we take lightly. We want to make sure it’s as fair and efficient as possible before sending it to the Governor for his signature.
We also welcomed representatives from the Georgia Young Famers Association, as well as its President Derrick Wooten, as we celebrated Young Farmers Day. It’s always a pleasure to see some of the future leaders of one of Georgia’s most important economic industries. Agribusiness contributes around $71 billion dollars to Georgia’s economy, and I’m proud to say my district plays a role in that figure.
Outdoor recreation is an important industry in Georgia, which is why I’m happy to say that we adopted Senate Resolution 924 urging the United States Congress to pass legislation which would enhance outdoor recreational activities such as hunting and fishing as part of a larger effort to increase conservation efforts across the country. I know many in my district, as well as the state, often participate in outdoor activities and this resolution is a good step towards ensuring these activities remain valuable for generations to come.
Thursday, I had the pleasure of hosting our Chaplain of the Day. Dr. Robert Rohm of McDonough was kind enough to join us in the Senate and lead us in our daily devotional. Dr. Rohm is a senior teaching pastor at Sharon Baptist Church in McDonough and is an experienced lecturer, educational consultant and author. Dr. Rohm delivered a moving sermon complete with his signature humor that I know the Senate found both inspirational and uplifting.
It was also a pleasure to welcome several Henry County art students to the Capitol as they presented pieces for the Capitol Art Exhibit. Specifically, I want to mention Sarah Safrit, Kara Miles, Niajah Butler, Ashton Johnson, Kaitlen Fain, Makensey Sapp, Garren Groover, and Addison McKneey for representing Henry County at the Capitol. It’s always a joy to see those from my district honored under the Gold Dome.
Next week, we will not meet on Monday due to the observance of President’s Day, but we will still gather in the chamber Tuesday through Friday. Things are beginning to move a little more quickly at the Capitol, but I am never too busy to hear from my constituents. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or comments that you may have on any legislation. I’m here to serve you and your feedback is always appreciated.
Sen. Rick Jeffares serves as Chairman of the Regulates Industries Committee. He represents the 17th Senate District which includes portions of Henry, Rockdale and Newton counties. He may be reached by phone at 404.463.1376 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.