Article submitted Monday, Feb. 13

Now that committees are busy vetting legislation, the Senate body is voting on refined legislation every day in the Senate chamber. As one would expect, these come in a variety of topics, but one of the more important pieces we passed was House Bill 43, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 amended budget.

In the FY17 amended budget, the Senate agreed to the Governor’s proposal of adding $27.2 million to begin funding the significant salary increase for law enforcement officers, public safety trainers and criminal investigators. Our state and local law enforcement officers provide a cornerstone to Georgia’s safety, and it’s for that reason that I was pleased to see that more funds were being allocated to them. In addition, the Department of Public Safety will receive more than $16 million to purchase 351 pursuit vehicles, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) will receive $1.5 million to replace 12 investigative vehicles, 8 bomb vehicles and crime scene response equipment. Furthermore, the GBI will receive $3 million to lead a statewide criminal justice e-filing system.

The Georgia Department of Education (GDOE) will also be getting some much-needed additional funding this fiscal year. For starters, the budget increases funds for career, technical and agricultural equipment grants to local school systems to $5.5 million. GDOE will also be getting a $91.8 million increase for midterm enrollment growth. Our schools are the bedrock of our skilled citizenry, so it is only right that they receive funding to educate more and more of our children.

And, while we’re now passing bills every day, we’re still adopting Senate Resolutions every day as well. One that was particularly important to me was Senate Resolution 157 which was adopted on Tuesday to recognize Firefighter Recognition Day under the Gold Dome. As a former firefighter, I know full well the sacrifice these brave citizens make every day in Georgia and around the country. No matter the call, firefighters always respond because they love helping and protecting members of their community. Of Georgia’s 463 fire departments, 51 percent are run completely by volunteers; and 16 percent of all firefighters have made it their career to dedicate their lives to helping and saving others.

The Senate and the Capitol as a whole is getting busier every day. If you have any questions, please reach out to my office, and I’ll be happy to help.

Sen. Jeff Mullis serves as chairman of the Rules Committee. He represents the 53rd Senate District which includes Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties and portions of Chattooga County. He can be reached at his office in Atlanta at 404.656.0057 or by email at jeff.mullis@senate.ga.gov.