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Newton’s state senators could help shape high-profile legislation
Strickland to chair Judiciary Committee, could see election bills; Anderson's committee may consider gambling legislation

ATLANTA — State senators representing Newton County will help lead committees charged with overseeing legislative changes to Georgia’s court system.

The senators also will be part of committees in the 2021 and 2022 sessions that will help write the state budget and any legislation filed on such controversial issues as legalized gambling and state election laws.

District 17 State Sen. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, was named chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and vice chairman of the Higher Education Committee.

Strickland also was named to the Appropriations Committee, Ethics Committee, and Banking & Financial Institutions Committee.

District 43 State Sen. Tonya Anderson, D-Lithonia, was named secretary of the Senate Special Judiciary Committee, and as a member of the Regulated Industries & Utilities; Veterans, Military & Homeland Security; Reapportionment & Redistricting; and Economic Development & Tourism committees.

In addition, she will serve as chairman of the 65-member Legislative Black Caucus this year.

Strickland, whose district includes eastern Newton, said he wants to see progress made in at least two areas on the Judiciary Committee this year.

“I am hopeful we will continue to focus on legislation concerning further reformation of our criminal justice system with a focus on revising our citizen’s arrest law and addressing the disproportionate number of citizens continuing on probation in our state in comparison to other states,” Strickland said.  

“I hope to continue working on reforming our mental health system as we continue to work to address the high number of citizens that need mental health services that find themselves in our prisons instead of a facility where they can get the help that is needed,” he said. 

The Judiciary Committee also will be working to address issues related to “getting the justice system moving as we continue to deal with COVID” through support of legislation to help relieve “the backlog of cases in our courts as a result of the delay in grand jury proceedings and the inability to conduct jury trials,” Strickland said.   

Anderson, whose district includes western Newton, will be an officer on the Special Judiciary Committee which acts as a support panel for the Judiciary Committee on legislation related to the courts in both civil and criminal law, according to the Senate website.

She did not return a call for comment about her committee assignments.

Strickland said his main priorities as vice chairman of the Higher Education Committee will be in two areas.

“While the legislative branch does not have the authority to set tuition rates, we have the ability to work with our Board of Regents and higher education institutions to make certain that we continue to do everything we can to keep the cost from continuing to rise and become a greater barrier to access to education,” he said.  

“The other priority for me is to continue to make certain that our high school students are able to continue to pursue a head start towards their careers through dual enrollment programs and college and career academies.  

“Both of these issues increase the ability of our students to have access to the higher education they will need in order to be prepared for the jobs of the 2020s,” Strickland said.

He will be a member of the Appropriations Committee that is responsible for reviewing and approving both the 2022 state budget and midyear changes in the 2021 budget.

Meanwhile, Strickland also will be part of the Ethics Committee that could see legislation to make changes in the state’s absentee voting process that President Donald Trump often criticized as being open to fraud during this year’s campaign.

Anderson, meanwhile, could see legislation seeking to legalize some form of gambling in Georgia, such as online sports betting, in her spot on the Regulated Industries committee.