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Thus far, I've held three Online Town Hall Meetings. You can watch video from the 2/28 Town Hall here. We'll have another one near the end of March. You can watch the video from the 1/29/13 meeting here. You can also watch video from the 1/08/13 Town Hall here..
We voted on a number of important measures this week, including over 40 measures on "Crossover Day" this past Thursday. Crossover Day refers to a Senate Rule that says the Senate will only consider measures that have passed the House no later than the 30th Legislative day. You can see the list of all votes taken in the House here. Click on each vote number to see more details about what was being voted on and how I voted on that particular measure.
I'd like to tell you about three notably measures we voted on this week:
HB123, the Parent and Teacher Empowerment Act would allow parents to petition their local school board to convert their traditional public school into a public charter school. HB123 also provides parents and teachers several options for transforming low-achieving schools. These options would allow parents and teachers to decide whether their low-achieving school should: 1) remove administration; 2) restructure the school; 3) allow students an option to transfer to a better performing school in the district; 4) utilize a school management team; and/ or 5) impose student improvement plans. To enact these options or convert to a charter school, more than 50 percent of parents or teachers would have to sign a petition. The petition would then go before the local school board for consideration. It's important to note the decision on how to deal with petitions allowed under HB123 remain completely at the local level.
HB188 creates the potential for newly honorable discharged veterans who have received training in certain specialized skilled trades to receive an initial professional license for that trade from the Secretary of State. The bill does this by creating a committee that would identify military jobs with requirements that meet or exceed Georgia requirements for certification in skilled trades applicable to HVAC, plumbing, electrical contracting, utility foreman or residential light commercial contracting. If their research shows it is appropriate, the committee could allow an exemption from some Georgia requirements for veterans with these skills. The committee could also certify military spouses living in Georgia who have a skilled trade certification from another state if the committee determines that the other state’s requirements meet or exceed Georgia’s requirements. This will help our state fill the 60,000 vacancies in these skilled trades expected over the next seven years and reduce the number of unemployed veterans in Georgia.
HB512, would allow licensed weapons holders who have gone through the process of finger printing, a background check, and a mental health inquiry to obtain a Georgia Weapons License (GWL) to carry their firearms in more places in Georgia than currently allowed by state law. This bill, known as the Safe Carry Protection Act, would allow property owners – not the government – to decide whether a licensed weapon holder may carry a gun in their places of worship and establishments that primarily serve alcohol beverages. The bill would also allow GWL holders to carry their firearm in a government building that is not afforded the protection of security services at the entrances or exits of the premises. Additionally, HB512 would allow gun owners to carry their firearms on most areas of public college campuses, but would not allow weapons in residence halls or competitive sporting Further, the Safe Carry Protection Act would no longer require fingerprinting for GWL renewal, but would continue to require fingerprinting for first time applicants. Another important section of this bill creates uniformity in Georgia gun laws by making the General Assembly solely responsible for regulating possession, ownership, transfer, licensing, and registration of firearms or other weapons, as well as gun shows. HB512 would also give each local Board of Education the option to designate one or more administrators to possess a weapon in a school safety zone. The bill additionally addresses the issue of gun owners who unknowingly bring their weapons to commercial airports. Moreover, the Safe Carry Protection Act improves Georgia’s gun laws by strengthening mental health inquiries for obtaining a Georgia Weapons License. HB512 would make it mandatory for a probate judge to perform an inquiry with the Georgia Criminal Information Center (GCIC) to determine whether applicants for a Georgia Weapons License have received involuntary treatment ordered by a court or medical professional. Applicants who have received involuntary treatment within the last five years could only receive a license if the probate judge determines that the applicant is mentally fit. The bill also prevents any person falling into any of the following categories from receiving a Georgia Weapons License: (1) anyone who has been under the care of a guardian or a conservator appointed to represent that person as a result of a mental illness or substance dependency within the last five years; (2) anyone who has been found mentally incompetent to stand trial; (3) anyone who has been found not guilty by reason of insanity; (4) anyone who is a registered sex offender; or (5) anyone who has made a threat against another person that was reported to the GCIC within the last five years.
Now that Crossover Day is come and gone, committees will begin work on bills passed by the Senate. House Committee meetings are broadcast live and past meetings are available online.
The House will be back in Session at 10 AM on Monday and will meet each day through Thursday. You can watch each day's session live or review the archives. I will send out another of these weekly emails next weekend.
You can connect with me via Twitter and Facebook (personal or campaign page or ) and see photos from events at the Capitol on my Tumblr page. Also, you can watch each day's session live on the internet.
Please feel free to contact me anytime if I can be of assistance. I'm honored to serve you at the Capitol and covet your prayers and support.