Thank you to those who sent ideas of laws that need to be repealed to the Code Revision Committee I chair. If you'd like to help us seek out unconstitutional and obsolete parts of the Official Code of Georgia send your ideas to my Legislative email and we'll get to work on it. I produced a short video asking members of the public to use their expertise and help us find obsolete and outdated laws. I hope you'll help in this effort.
The 2017 Legislative Session is in full swing and a number of bills passed this week. Here are a few of my favorites:
In an exciting effort to bring the commercial space industry to Georgia, the House saw the passage of a measure this week that would establish the groundwork for this industry in our state. House Bill 1, the Georgia Space Flight Act (GSA), would define procedures for commercial space flight activity, allowing Georgia to be more competitive with neighboring “space friendly” states.
House Bill 9, which passed the House overwhelmingly, would update Georgia’s invasion of privacy law, making filming under or through a person’s clothing a felony in Georgia. HB 9 criminalizes the use of a device, such as a camera or mobile phone, to secretly observe, photograph, videotape, film or record underneath or through a person’s clothing to view intimate parts of the body in circumstances where that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. This legislation would also make it unlawful to disseminate images or recordings that were obtained this way. HB 9 was introduced in response to a Georgia Court of Appeals ruling that overturned the conviction of an individual for one count of criminal invasion of privacy for recording cell phone video underneath a woman’s skirt at a grocery store. The court found that the defendant’s actions did not violate Georgia’s current invasion of privacy law because the incident occurred in a public space. Current Georgia law related to the invasion of privacy only applies to activities that occur in any “private place out of viewing.” Therefore, HB 9 would close this loophole by prosecuting those who commit this violating practice.
Another significant measure was House Bill 139, a bill that would increase transparency in Georgia’s public school systems. HB 139 would require the Georgia Department of Education to create and publish an online database reporting the financial performance of each local school system and school in Georgia, including the costs of all materials and equipment, staff salaries and benefits, professional development, facility maintenance, new construction or renovation, per student expenditures for each local school system, the schools system’s annual budget, ratio of expenditures to revenue and the total property tax revenue the system is authorized to collect. This bill would also require each public school that maintains a website to post a link in a prominent location to the Department of Education’s website where this valuable financial data would be compiled, aggregated and reported. Currently, there is no user-friendly method for the public to access this information, and HB 139 aims to make our school systems’ financial information more readily available to the public. Because education funding accounts for more than half of our state budget each year, it is essential that we increase governmental transparency by ensuring that Georgians know how their tax dollars are spent.
We'll be back in session Tuesday and meet through Friday. As always, you can watch the sessions live and all House committee meetings.
As I did during last session, I record a quick video update each day we are in Session, You can join us live on my Facebook page. Here are last week's videos: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK:
Many groups come to the Capitol to inform us about their profession. This week some folks came to teach CPR and other life-saving procedures.
As always, you can contact me at my Capitol office at 404-656-0188 or via email. You can also connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or via my website.
I look forward to serving you in the Legislature for the next two years. As I tell people, I get to wake up everyday and try to make Georgia a better place. It's a great job and I'm grateful you folks trust me to represent our community.