Legislative Day 22: Here's a mid-session update on top legislative priorities
Many of Gov. Brian Kemp’s legislative priorities for the 2022 session are now closer to becoming law.
In his State of the State address, Kemp proposed a one-time tax credit for Georgia families. Today, the House passed House Bill 1302, which would provide a one-time tax credit for those who file in both 2020 and 2021.
"HB 1302 is the fulfillment of our belief that when government takes more money than it needs, surplus should be given back to the taxpayers," said the governor's floor leader, Rep. Josh Bonner (R -Fayetteville).
"This bill presents a unique opportunity for our Georgia Assembly to put $1.6 billion back into the pockets of hardworking Georgians," he said.
A third tax refund was announced today by House Speaker David Ralston (R- Blue Ridge) that would take effect in 2023.
Another priority for Kemp is the way Georgia charges individuals accused of child molestation or child pornography. Rep. Jodie Lott (R- Evans) sponsored HB 1188.
"It is unfortunate that we must address the issue of child molestation and pornography at all," Lott said. "And yet because there are horrific people who create these crimes, we must."
"HB 1188 clarifies language so that this newly created injustice is corrected,” Lott continued. “Without question, each body part or image would now be charged as a separate offense. There’s no more heinous crimes than those committed against children. And the victims of such horrendous crimes are living a life-sentence of trauma."
The bill passed in the House unanimously.
In the Senate, SB 456, a Republican penned bill that would require an in-office doctor consultation before a woman could be administered an abortion inducing drug met strong opposition from Democrats during debate. Called the “Women’s Health and Safety Act”, the Republican sponsors of the bill said that it simply brought the level of a doctor’s care for the procedure back to pre-pandemic levels.
“What this bill does, simply, puts it back to what it was pre-pandemic situation," said Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah). “So, during the pandemic the rules were suspended, and patients were allowed to get this medicine via tele-medicine. The FDA hasn’t changed. The medicine has changed, and the need to see a physician has not changed.”
Sen. Kim Jackson, a Democrat from Stone Mountain, said that while this bill impacts all women, it particularly affects some of the most underrepresented.
“Let me be clear: The intended outcome of this bill is to limit abortion access in Georgia with the hope that fewer women will be able to access their constitutional right,” Jackson said. “And what is really cruel about this bill is that those who are already the most vulnerable are the ones that are most likely to be burned by this injustice: People who are poor. People who live in rural communities. People with disabilities. People of color.”
The bill passed along party lines, 31 to 22.
Finally, a visit by University of Georgia's head football coach Kirby Smart gave lawmakers a boost this morning when he brought the National Championship trophy to share with both chambers.
"You don't win championships without support, and you don't win championships without a team effort," Smart said.
"Everything I know about leadership, I have learned from Coach Smart's halftime lecture," Ralston said at the House event.
UGA's football team defeated the University of Alabama in the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship game.
"This great state attracts a lot of players.” Kirby said. “They want to come to the state of Georgia. That is usually a good sign of leadership. The leadership in this room has driven this state for a lot of years. We want to keep the University of Georgia of growing both academically and athletically in every facet. We can't do it without the support of the people in this room.”