Expanded broadband access and supplemental teacher pay on legislative agenda

After a busy first week filled with ceremonial procedures, updated safety protocols, and getting our bearings, the Senate gaveled out on Thursday marking the end of our fourth legislative day. The first few days of a session are often ceremonial in nature and we spent much of the first few days adopting resolutions that are required to officially start our work. However, the week also included a few significant events that I would like to highlight.

On our first day, all senators, both new and returning, were officially sworn in to begin their terms in office. It was incredibly humbling to take the oath, surrounded by 55 other dedicated servants to their communities, in the same room where some of Georgia’s greatest leaders once stood. It was a strong reminder of the reason I am here and my commitment to you to always advocate for your interests.

This week, we also received our committee assignments for the year. I am excited to say that I have been appointed to serve on the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Ethics, Government Oversight, Health and Human Services, and Judiciary Committees. I feel privileged to have a voice on these committees, which will undoubtedly take up issues that will directly impact our community.

While committee work has not yet begun, bills have started to be filed and assigned to their respective committees. In the coming weeks, as more legislation is introduced, the committee process will truly begin. I encourage you to keep up with all of our work here at the Capitol by visiting the Georgia General Assembly website where all committee meetings will be announced, along with accompanying livestream video.

Broadband and teacher supplements

On Thursday, Gov. Brian Kemp held his annual State of the State address where he outlined a few of his major legislative and budgetary priorities for the session. One of the more impactful proposals was a substantial investment in rural broadband infrastructure.

We know how difficult it can be to access consistent, dependable high-speed internet in our area. This was highlighted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when many students had to transition to learning from home, businesses adopted teleworking policies, and many healthcare visits were forced to become virtual. Our state needs expanded broadband access in order to stay competitive economically, but also just so all Georgians, in rural and urban areas alike, have access to vital services like education and healthcare.

Gov. Kemp also announced that teachers and educational staff will be receiving a one-time supplement of $1,000 for their hard work adapting to unusual and difficult circumstances throughout the pandemic and many of the cuts made to education last summer would be restored.

Budget week

This week will be “budget week.” This is a time set aside with no legislative days on the Senate floor and, instead, joint meetings of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees will convene to hear from various agency and department heads about their current and projected budgetary needs.

We all know the toll COVID-19 has taken on our state’s finances, but our economy has already begun to bounce back and all indications are that we will continue to grow.

If you ever have any questions or concerns about our work here at the state Capitol, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office.

Sen. Bo Hatchett serves as a Governor’s Administration Floor Leader. He represents the 50th Senate District which includes Banks, Franklin, Habersham, Rabun, Stephens, and Towns counties and portions of Hall and Jackson counties. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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