On Monday, Jan. 11, the Georgia General Assembly convened to commence the first year of the two-year biennial session.
Members are elected in even-numbered years, and are sworn in and seated the following January. The Georgia Constitution requires that we enter into a legislative session by the second Monday in January each year. The constitution also sets 40 days as the maximum number of days of session each year. Legislative sessions are arranged in two-year periods that line up with the election cycle. This year’s session will be the first half of the full 2021-2022 session, and the second half will begin in January, 2022.
First and foremost, I want to thank you for placing your trust in me to represent District 20. This session will have some notable differences, particularly as we implement precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The first week begins with swearing in all General Assembly members, including our newest House members. After all House members are sworn in, we begin the process of electing the House’s leadership, the speaker of the house and the speaker pro tem, who are voted on by all House members. Once we settle these housekeeping matters, the session’s real work begins.
The budget will be one of the highest priorities this session, as we deal with the repercussions of COVID-19 and its impact on Georgians and their lives. Over the past few years, thanks to a reduction in the state income tax rate, Georgia experienced lagging state revenues. Because of this, state lawmakers prepared for budget cuts throughout state government. The governor’s office gave instructions to state agencies to submit net-neutral budgets matching the current fiscal year. Even so, legislators still are expected to make some budget reductions. Georgia’s revenues through the first five months of the 2021 fiscal year are up by more than $551 million, compared with the same period last year.
We also will turn our attention to election law, and giving Georgians renewed confidence in our election process’ security and accuracy. Legislators are determined to review the state’s voter registration, absentee ballot and early voting policies.
We will continue our efforts to lower health care costs, which have taken on renewed importance during the pandemic. Additionally, we will support our businesses and schools as they seek to operate safely while providing vital services to all Georgians.
It is an honor to work for you and this great state. If you have any feedback, do not hesitate to call 404-557-2218, email email@example.com, or engage on Facebook. If you would like to receive email updates, please visit my website, CharliceByrd.com, to sign up for my newsletter.
By State Rep. Charlice Byrd, a longtime resident of Woodstock, who previously served in the Georgia House of Representatives 2005-2013, when she was named 2007 Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s National Legislator of the Year.