By State Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah
The Georgia General Assembly convened for the 2023 Session on Jan. 9 with both the Georgia Senate and the House of Representatives meeting in their respective chambers to begin their work of the people’s business. Several important rites took place to begin the session, including the seating of the governor and other constitutional officers. The first part of our business was the swearing in of the 56 senators, followed by the election of the President Pro Tem of the Senate and the establishment of the rules which shall govern how the Senate will operate.
House Resolution 2 was adopted, calling for a joint General Assembly session of the House of Representatives and the Senate. To that end, we convened at the Georgia State Convocation Center for the inauguration and swearing-in of Governor Brian P. Kemp and other constitutional officers. Constitutional officers sworn in included Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones who presides over the Senate, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Attorney General Chris Carr, Agriculture Commissioner Tyler Harper, Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John King, State School Superintendent Richard Woods, and Labor Commissioner Bruce Thompson.
The assignment of committees is one of the most important pieces of work conducted by the Senate. I am grateful to the Committee on Assignments for assigning me to return as chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee.
I was also cast to return as chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Department of Human Services, Department of Behavior Health and Developmental Disabilities, and the Department of Public Health. The Department of Community Health (Medicaid) has also been added to my subcommittee.
All Health appropriations now fall under the purview my subcommittee, and the subcommittee reviews and appropriates about 23% of the expected total $33 Billion Georgia Fiscal Year 2024 budget. We will work in conjunction with the House and the Executive branch.
I have also been assigned to the Economic Development and Tourism Committee, the Judiciary Committee, and the Rules Committee.
Only two pieces of legislation are mandated to pass during each legislative session, both of a fiscal and budgetary nature. The FY 2023 amended budget allows the legislature to address any funding shortfalls that were not anticipated during the last session, and the “big budget” incorporates expenditures to fund education, health care and other government agencies for FY 2024. We will also review many more legislative priorities of the governor and the legislators. We are limited by our state Constitution to complete your business in 40 legislative days.
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 325-A Coverdell Legislative Office Building. My office phone number is (404) 656-7880, and my email is email@example.com. I look forward to continuing to serve you.