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20 April 2020

2020 Legislative Session Update

Written by Senator John Albers

On March 16, elected representatives were called into a special legislative session to ratify Gov. Brian Kemp’s executive order to declare a public health state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, I sent updates to those on my email list, posted to my website and social media accounts, and hosted telephone town hall meetings to inform citizens of the important updates and resources available. Specific updates included best practices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health care access, the Small Business Administration, unemployment, federal stimulus, charities, schools, etc.

On March 13, the regular 2020 legislative session was temporarily suspended. Before that, we approved $100 million to be added to the amended 2020 fiscal year budget to address coronavirus issues. In addition, we passed many important bills in the Senate, all of which will remain active when we return to normal business.

I am very proud of our work to end surprise medical billing as well as all the bills I wrote that passed, including Senate Bill 302, the Tax Credit Return on Investment Act of 2020. This legislation creates the process for economic analyses detailing the return on investments of tax incentives offered by the state. With generous tax credits to encourage business growth, it’s important that communities see new jobs and investment as a result of the credits offered. This legislation provides the necessary transparency to ensure Georgians in every ZIP code see the benefits of our tax credit infrastructure.

I also wrote two bills that will provide greater retirement benefits for Georgia’s firefighters and peace officers. Senate Bill 248 and Senate Bill 249, both of which received favorable passage in the Senate, would increase the monthly retirement benefits payable to members of the Georgia Firefighters Pension Fund and the Georgia Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund, respectively. Additionally, Senate Bill 248 would include correctional officers as eligible members of the fund and would increase the monthly contribution amount. Neither pension fund utilizes any state tax dollars.

Last, but not least, was the unanimous passage of Senate Bill 423, the Max Gruver Act, which I wrote. In honor of the late Max Gruver and championed by his parents, Rae Ann and Steve Gruver, this legislation increases the penalties, transparency, and accountability for hazing. Senate Bill 423 will protect and save lives.

At the time of this writing, I do not know what the circumstances regarding the coronavirus will be when you read this column. What I do know is America is strong and will overcome. Georgia is prepared and will help lead the way. Throughout history, our great nation has always risen to the occasion, and I am confident our best days are yet to come. Be safe, be smart, be gracious, and God Bless America!

About the Author

Senator John Albers

Senator John Albers

Senator John Albers represents the 56th Senate District, which includes portions of North Fulton county. 404-463-8055, John.Albers@Senate.Ga.gov.