On Monday, January 9, 2023, the Georgia General Assembly officially gaveled in to kick off the 2023 Legislative Session. The Georgia Constitution requires that the Georgia General Assembly convene on the second Monday in January and is limited to a term made up of 40 non-consecutive legislative days. The first week of session typically encompasses ceremonial motions as a number of new leaders were sworn into office including Lt. Governor Burt Jones, President Pro Tempore Sen. John F. Kennedy (R – Macon) and 10 incoming freshman Senators. I am pleased to announce that I will be serving as Majority Leader for the Senate Majority Caucus for the 2023 Legislative Session. I am honored that my Republican colleagues in the Senate have chosen me to serve in this role and look forward to supporting a strong conservative policy agenda for all Georgians. I anticipate that the 2023 Legislative Session will be a historic one with new leaders and new faces in the Senate Chamber and I look forward to this great opportunity to forge new partnerships and build on the work of our predecessors to continue to grow our state.
Last week, the official Inauguration of Georgia’s 83rd Governor, Brian P. Kemp and our state’s Constitutional Officers took place at Georgia State University.
Kicking off this legislative session, I am proud to be a sponsor of Senate Bill 1 which will prohibit the requirement for proof of COVID-19 vaccination status for employment by state government agencies. Also prohibited by SB1 are the mask mandates that have been forced on our children by school boards and administrators. It is fitting that this is our first bill of a session we are entering with the strong intent to restore the freedoms of Georgians. I am also a sponsor of Senate Bill 3 which orders state agencies to regularly assess degree requirements for state employment and reduce the number of positions which require a four year college degree as a condition of employment. In this era of record low unemployment rates, we look to strengthen the ability for government to cut red tape and ensure employment opportunities for job-seeking Georgians.
This past week, much of the General Assembly’s time was devoted to Joint Hearings of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees. “Budget Week,” as we call it, is a time for the heads of Georgia’s state agencies and departments to present their budget requests to the General Assembly for review. These hearings are often long, but are critical in ensuring that your taxpayer dollars are spent as responsibly as possible. Here are some of the highlights from the past week’s hearings.
In the Amended FY 2023 budget, the Governor recommended a regulated surplus of $100 million be used for income tax reductions for all taxpayers for the 2022 tax year. If passed, a $250 tax cut would be issued for individuals filing jointly and a $500 tax cut for joint filers. I strongly support this item. The government does not spend its own money, it spends your money so to return those dollars back to the taxpayer is of utmost importance. In the FY2024 budget, the Governor recommends a $2,000 cost of living adjustment for state employees and teachers across Georgia.
This week, we will reconvene in the Senate Chamber Monday through Thursday for legislative days 5-8. We also plan to get back to work in our committees to assess legislation brought before us. If you have any questions or concerns related to the budget or any potential legislation that may come up this year, please do not hesitate to contact my office. I am here to serve you.
Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Leader of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and Pickens Counties and a portion of White County. He may be reached at 404.656.7872 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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