January 13th, 2020 marked the first day of the 2020 Georgia General Assembly legislative session. We met for four days this week, culminating in the State of the State address by Governor Kemp. I may still be a freshman legislator, but with one session under my belt, the inner workings of the General Assembly are no longer such a mystery, and it was nice to be back at the Capitol. We have 40 legislative days to accomplish what we can for the people of Georgia, and I look forward to working with my fellow legislators this session. Four days of session down, 36 to go!

On Wednesday, I attended the first Higher Education Committee meeting of the year. We received an update on the Nexus Degree one year after its launch. Georgia’s newest university degree combines core requirements, experiential learning, and highly specialized courses. The degree is designed to meet evolving workforce needs in our state, and is offered currently at Columbus State University (film production) and Albany State University (blockchain with machine learning and blockchain with data analytics).

Last week, I was honored to join Senator Nikema Williams for a listening session with the residents of Cathedral Towers, an affordable independent living facility. Residents expressed concerns about affordable housing and HUD funding, school safety and gun violence, voting access, and environmental protection. It’s always a pleasure to meet with engaged and passionate constituents.

For the tenth year in a row, Georgians for a Healthy Future hosted the Health Care Unscrambled breakfast, an annual tradition in which legislators, medical professionals, and health care advocates discuss upcoming health care issues in 2020. The lively conversation included discussions about the newly proposed Medicaid waivers, the threat of patients opting out of vaccinations, the crisis in rural health care, and the dire statistics around maternal and infant mortality in Georgia. 

On Thursday, I had the honor of introducing the Doctor of the Day, House District 54 resident Dr. Saida Omarova. When Dr. Omarova isn’t tending to the needs of the state legislature, she practices family medicine and urgent care at Northside Family Medicine in Midtown.

We are adjourned all next week for Joint Budget Hearings. Passing a balanced budget is the only constitutional requirement of the Georgia legislature. Governor Kemp anticipates declining revenues, likely due in part to the significant income tax break passed in 2018. He has asked the legislature to cut the budget, which will be a tall order. Our state budget is already slim – the legislature made deep cuts in 2008 in response to the last recession. While the economy has improved dramatically in the state, many agencies aren’t back to their 2007 spending levels (accounting for population growth), and Georgia is 48th out of 50 states for spending per capita. Expect heavy negotiations as we work to ensure essential services while remaining fiscally responsible.

The public is welcome to attend the budget hearings – a schedule can be found here. You may also watch the hearings online at this link.

If you haven’t already, please browse my website, betsyforgeorgia.com.

As your Representative, your concerns are important to me. Please contact me at betsy.holland@house.ga.gov or 404-656-0116 with questions, concerns, or solutions you may have regarding legislation or other happenings in District 54.

To stay updated, follow me on Twitter and Facebook (click on links at the bottom of this email), and follow the Georgia House of Representatives @GAHouseHub on Twitter. Additionally, in-depth information regarding current bills, Georgia’s annual and supplemental budgets, committee meetings, and livestreams from the General Assembly can be accessed via www.legis.ga.gov.

I encourage you and your family to visit our State Capitol and my office, where all constituents are welcome. I look forward to connecting with you!

My office is located at:
18 Capitol Square, SW
490-B, Coverdell Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.

Representative Betsy Holland
GA House District 54