Georgia Senate Republicans plan to take up a series of issues that have been hot topics in 2021 when the new legislative session starts.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, said Senate Republicans will focus on protecting personal data, free speech on social media platforms, critical race theory, workforce development and public safety during the upcoming legislative session, which starts Jan. 10.
“In 2022, we plan to continue our trend of being at the forefront of policy issues facing Georgians,” Dugan said Tuesday in a tweet.
Legislative proposals must be reviewed and approved in both chambers of the General Assembly before they can be sent over to Gov. Brian Kemp for final approval. One of the top priorities for the Legislature is the state budget, which it is obligated to pass before the 40-day session ends March 31.
Public safety has been a pressing issue in the past several months as the state saw a rising trend in crime.
Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who presides over the Senate, has announced a proposal giving Georgians tax credits for donating to their local law enforcement agency. House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, also announced a $75 million legislative proposal in July to increase law enforcement resources and jobs. Law enforcement and judicial leaders have called on legislators to implement reforms.
Many of Dugan’s priorities announced Tuesday have been at the forefront of other legislatures or plastered in national headlines. Republican legislators in several states have proposed bills in 2021 that would allow constituents to seek civil action if their social media posts are censored or apps are removed from the marketplace. Florida, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana and South Carolina are among states that have called for regulation of social media censorship.
Critical race theory also was on the legislative agenda in many states in 2021. Dugan said he plans to eliminate “divisive critical race theory” in the state’s “education systems and state agencies.”
The theory is centered around the idea that race is a social construct used to oppress people of color. It was developed by legal scholars in the late 1970s and 1980s, concludes racism in America is systemic. Critical race theory gained new notoriety in response to the 1619 Project, a New York Times multimedia piece that connects slavery to capitalism.
“I look forward to sharing more details about these policy proposals soon and working with the House to accomplish these important goals,” Dugan said.