This week, the Senate convened for three legislative days and held two committee workdays to vet many of the bills and resolutions given to us from the House. We are so close to the finish line on April 2nd, but we have a lot of measures to get through and things to keep an eye on to ensure the legislative session is a success.
One such item is the $27.5 billion FY 2020 general budget, or House Bill 31. This bill was passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday and will be heard next week. I’ll highlight any specific appropriations that could directly impact our area next week when I’ve had the opportunity to review the changes. However, one change that has been highlighted is the Senate’s raise of the teacher pay increases back to $3,000. This is a wonderful allocation for teachers and represents our chamber’s dedication to the profession and education of all our students.
Another is the Education Savings Account bill that we defeated in the Senate a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, this bill has been added to another education related bill, so I’m sure this will be another point of debate in the coming weeks. This is not a good measure from our public schools as it takes away state funding by allowing certain students to be deposit their state allocated QBE funds into an account to be used for educational purposes, which would likely be in a private school. It’s not right, nor will it be beneficial to students, and we’ll be fighting to defeat this legislation if it makes it to the floor again.
Lastly, House Bill 481 was heard on the Senate floor on Friday. This legislation would ban abortions after six weeks (that’s when a heartbeat is detected) and would make ‘unborn children’ people under the law, allowing them to be counted in our state’s census and dependents for taxation purposes. These are fiscally irresponsible measures as the effect of counting embryos as people at six weeks old and allowing for tax deductions on unborn children is estimated to cost upwards of $20 million. However, this bill represents more than just a fiscally irresponsible measure, it’s dangerous. Women and their doctors cannot make private medical decisions and that has the potential to cause women to turn to extreme measures if they do not have safe, reliable access to medical care. A woman’s choice to choose whether or not they want to start a family was taken away by a body that is made up of 70 percent men. However, make no mistake, women will still make the choice to have an abortion under this bill. But they will not be safe, they will not be accessible. After four-and-a-half hours of debate, this bill passed and will head to the House for final passage, and then to the Governor for signing. I remain opposed to this legislation.
Next week, we will pass the last few bills out of committee and will prepare for the marathon that is Sine Die. If you are interested in coming to the Capitol, please let my office know. I look forward to hearing from you and continuing to represent your values at the state Capitol.
Senator Tonya Anderson represents the 43rd Senate District, which includes portions of DeKalb, Newton and Rockdale counties. She may be reached by email at email@example.com