Day 35 was busy and productive.

The morning started with a press conference commemorating the third anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings. The conference was led by the Asian American Pacific Islander legislative caucus. 

The victims’ names were read as they are each year, by Rep. Michelle Au (D-District 50). Rep. Long Tran (D-District 80) told the crowd more still needs to be done.    

House members kicked off their day with a celebration for the late Speaker David Ralston’s birthday. House leaders unveiled a portrait of Ralston. Gov. Brian Kemp and former governors Nathan Deal and Sonny Perdue also praised Ralston’s legacy.  

After the tribute, the House debated for nearly two house about a contentious bill that members rejected last session: Senate Bill 233 establishes $6,500 scholarship for students attending low-performing public schools to use to attend a private school.  

Supporters such as speaker pro tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton) and Rep. Mesha Mainor (R-Atlanta) continue to say that the bill offers choices for students and their families. But critics like Rep. Doreen Carter (D-Lithonia) and Rep. Miriam Paris (D-Macon) say it does not fix problems Georgia’s education system is facing.  

SB 233 passed the House 91 to 82 this time. It must go back through the Senate because of changes the House made. 

The Senate also remembered David Ralston today: A Senate resolution was passed that urged the naming of a building on the University of North Georgia campus after the late House speaker. Both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate also spoke highly of Ralston. Senate Resolution 678 was passed 53 to 1. 

Six other bills were also brought to the floor.  

Most notably, House Bill 1339 would revise and make the rules surrounding the ‘Certificate of Need’ (CON). The certificate is the trigger needed to make construction of hospitals, medical facilities, and even nursing homes, especially in more rural area, easier. While the bill garnered Democratic support, some said CON won’t fix the problem without Medicaid expansion. But despite such concerns, the bill passed in a bipartisan vote.