By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Sen. Ben Watson: Week 10 is in the books as session winds down
Ben Watson
Sen. Ben Watson

Sen. Ben Watson

Guest columnist

The tenth week of the 2023 Georgia Legislative Session was filled with many meetings as committees met to consider House Bills that have been sent to the Senate. There were 18 measures passed on the Senate floor this week, and many more will be brought up for a vote in the coming days. With only five legislative days left of session, the days grow longer as the Senate continues its work of passing meaningful legislation for the benefit of all Georgians. With Week Ten behind us, there are a few items of note to reflect on as we close out another week under the Gold Dome.

Most importantly, with weeks to go when we all are required to file our federal and state income taxes, Governor Brian Kemp signed into law the General Assembly bill to support Georgia taxpayers. The governor signed House Bill 162 to provide a onetime income tax refund to Georgians who filed returns for both the 2021 and 2022 tax years. Similar to the tax refund last year, individual tax filers could receive a maximum refund of $250, head of household filers could receive a maximum refund of $375, and married individuals who file jointly could receive a maximum refund of $500.

The Georgia Department of Revenue is expected to begin issuing these refunds this spring based on each filer’s tax liabilities.

One piece of legislation I carried in the Senate was House Bill 332. This important legislation would add and remove a number of drugs and substances on the state’s drug schedule. HB 332 represents the annual update to the state’s drug schedule in reference to the controlled substance list for Schedule I, IV and V drugs. H.B. 332 passed with a vote of 54 to 0.

Another important piece of legislation that is extremely important for our school children is House Bill 147, legislation that would provide a safety and anti-gang endorsement for eligible certificated professional personnel by the Professional Standards Commission.

This bill would require a school safety plan to be submitted to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency by Dec. 31.

Additionally, it would require that public schools participate in and complete intruder alert drills by October 1st of each year and allow for parents or guardians to opt their child out of such drills. HB 147 passed with a vote of 52 to 3.

With St. Patrick’s Day becoming such an important celebration to our community and state, the Senate welcomed Irish Minister Darragh O’Brien to the Senate Chamber to award him with Senate Resolution 260, a resolution that recognizes and commends Minister O’Brien for his outstanding service to the people of Ireland.

It was my great honor to welcome him to the Georgia Senate. Minister O’Brien has dedicated numerous hours towards helping the people of Ireland. His commitment to the people of Fingal County and the City of Dublin is a strong example of leadership, diplomacy, and dedication to public service. In addition, we also welcomed the annual Savannah contingent from the Irish community to celebrate and recognize their Parade Grand Marshall, George F. Schwarz, III. George is an excellent choice for the 199th St. Patrick’s Day parade.

As we progress through the session, I will keep you updated on legislation. Thank you for your continued interest in the General Assembly session.

As your public servant, feel free to visit me at the Capitol or to reach out to me by phone or email. I am in 325A Coverdell Legislative Office Building. My office phone number is (404) 656-7880, and my email is

. I look forward to continuing to serve you

Sign up for our E-Newsletters