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March 12 - Rep. Gordon's Weekly Update: March 4-8, 2019

By Rep. Craig Gordon

March 12, 2019 - The House worked many long hours this week, debating legislation about a wide variety of issues, with Crossover Day on March 7. The bills that passed have crossed over to the Senate for consideration and we will deliberate bills that passed the Senate. With just 11 legislative days before we adjourn, we’ll consider much more legislation for the betterment of our great state.  

HB 525 passed which will have a local impact. This bill changes the name of the Georgia International Maritime Trade Center to the Savannah Convention Center and creates the Savannah-Georgia Convention Center Authority to operate the center, allowing for more state funding. This is good legislation that will have a direct impact on our community, further developing our economy and advancing the mission of the Convention Center, drawing thousands of organizations to the Savannah area each year, creating more jobs and contributing to our city’s vibrancy.

HB 426 received bi-partisan support and enhances the penalty imposed on a defendant if the court finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim of the crime was chosen due to race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability. I was pleased with the passage of this bill and the backing it received on both sides of the aisle.

I believe that education is the key to opportunity and success and a bill passed that may help Georgia’s youth get their advanced degree. HB 218 provides that students receiving a HOPE scholarship between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2019 will remain eligible for that scholarship for up to seven years from their high school graduation date; however, if the student serves in the military during that seven-year period, their active duty service will not count toward the seven years. HB 218 also provides that students receiving a HOPE scholarship on or after July 1, 2019 will remain eligible for that scholarship for up to 10 years from their high school graduation date; however, if the student serves in the military during that t10-year period, their active duty service will not count towards the 10 years. Ifit becomes law, I believe this legislation will encourage more of Georgia’s youth to get a higher education.

Also, regarding education, House Bill 444 renames the 'Move on When Ready Act' as the 'Dual Enrollment Act.' House Bill 444 limits the number of credit hours the dual enrollment program will fund to 30 hours taken during fall and spring semesters, after which additional hours will be lottery-funded and count toward the students' HOPE/Zell Miller Scholarship and HOPE Grant maximum hours. The bill also limits grade-level participation to 11th and 12th graders; however, to continue producing a skilled workforce, 10th grade students may participate in dual enrollment courses provided by the Technical College System of Georgia.  

House Bill 247 updates regulations regarding the protection of senior citizens and disabled adults from abuse and exploitation. The bill provides that all forms of battery against a person 65 or older is a felony. It amends the definition of "exploitation" to include the act of illegally taking resources that belong to a disabled or elderly adult when access to those resources was obtained due to the victim's mental or physical incapacity. I believe this is good legislation that protects our senior population and was pleased it passed overwhelmingly.  

As we continue the legislative session, I would like to hear from you! My local office number is 912.231.8958. It’s a privilege to represent our great community in Atlanta.

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