This past week, we heard Chief Justice Hugh Thompson give his first State of the Judiciary Address in a joint session with our colleagues from the Senate.in his address, Chief Justice Thompson applauded a series of criminal justice reform bills that we have passed over the last few years. One of the main goals of criminal justice reform was to increase the number of accountability courts in Georgia. Chief Justice Thompson proclaimed that 93% of these court graduates remain free of criminal charges and 85% are employed. With fewer people in prison, these courts save Georgia more than $20 million in prison costs each year.
In addition to hearing the State of the Judiciary, we also met on the House floor to vote on several pieces of legislation. One of the bills that we passed last week could have a significant impact on Georgia’s education system. HB766 allows students over the age of 16 to obtain coursework credit for work based learning programs. House Bill 766 enables school districts and businesses to develop partnerships, so that they can better prepare tomorrow’s workforce with the skills they need to thrive.
The Legislative pipeline is filling up as Committees tried to catch up from days missed from last week's snowstorm. You can see all bills that have passed the various Committees on the General Calendar. We'll be voting on seven bills on Monday's Rules Calendar.
Friday I sat down with Rep. Rick Jasperse to talk with him about HB875, the Safe Carry Protection Act. Listen to our conversation here. You can also listen to some recent media appearances I've had here.
HB524, the bill I'm working on to allow adult adoptees to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate, was amended by the Committee and will have another hearing by the full Juvenile Justice Committee this week. I also introduced HR1215 to call for a Convention of States for proposing Amendments to the Constitution. We had 34 co-sponsors to the measure and hope to have a hearing in the Judiciary Committee very soon.
I want to thank all of you who emailed me your comments on HB885, the proposed expansion of medical marijuana. Here are the results of the most recent opinion polls taken in the vote4buzz app on that bill and another topic:
1) Currently Georgia allows Doctors to prescribe medical marijuana for those with cancer of glaucoma. Should Georgia expand this law? Yes: 73%, No: 9%, Undecided: 18%
2) Should Georgia pass a resolution calling for a Convention of the States for the purpose of proposing amendments to the United States Constitution? Yes: 67% No: 33%, Undecided: 0%
Our poll this week concerns HB153: Currently a special local option sales tax (SPLOST) must be a 1% tax. Should counties be allowed to propose a SPLOST at taxes rates of less than 1% if they want to? To vote in our weekly polls you need to download the "vote4buzz" iPhone app. Search for "vote4buzz" in the App Store or click here.