Tuesday, February 6, brought the beginning of the fifth week of the 2024 legislative session. Our House body met for four days where we successfully gave passage to several bills and continued our committee work each day. In addition, we also convened for a joint session of the House and the Senate to hear the State of the Judiciary address.

This Update:

House Action

State of the Judiciary

Amended Budget 

House Bill 915, the amended 2024 budget, is set at a revenue estimate of approximately $37.5 billion. Budget items include substantial investments in technology, capital improvements, safety and security initiatives, economic development projects and human capital enhancements. Our amended budget continues to prioritize economic development in our state and has aligned with the governor’s proposal to allocate funding for several key economic development initiatives. Highlights are listed below.

Economic Development

  • $23.9 million is designated to the Rural Workforce Housing program.
  • $250 million for low-interest loans to the Georgia Fund, which would be dedicated to water and wastewater infrastructure development in local communities.
  • $100 million for economic development initiatives through the Regional Economic Business Assistance program.
  • $100 million to the OneGeorgia Authority for rural economic development and site enhancement projects.


  • $178 million toward establishing a new dental school at Georgia Southern University in Savannah.
  • $50 million for the construction of the Medical School at the University of Georgia.
  • $4.75 million to support necessary funding for staff and facility operations within the Quick Start program.
  • $19.5 million for the Technical Education program within the Technical College System of Georgia to fund renovation and start-up costs for three Workforce Accelerator site locations.
  • $102.5 million allocation to the Department of Education (DOE) for the midterm adjustment of the Quality Basic Education Formula.
  • $1.57 million to expand the Communities in Schools program.
  • $8.9 million in lottery funds to sustain the Summer Transition Program through the Department of Early Care.


  • $3.9 billion allocated towards transportation infrastructure.
  • $509 million is dedicated to the new Freight Infrastructure. Projects program to enhance Georgia’s growing freight network.
  • $200 million allocation as a one-time deposit for the Local Road Assistance Administration Program.
  • $4.25 million in this budget to continue upgrading the state-owned rail lines.


  • $110,000 for the implementation of visible watermarks on all paper ballots to enhance election security.
  • $500 million to improve the health and funding ratio for the Employees Retirement System of Georgia.
  • $300 million for a one-time salary supplement of $1,000 for state employees and teachers.
  • $2 million to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities to implement alternative transportation methods for those facing a mental health crisis.
  • $1 million for the Georgia Department of Veterans Services to support the Veterans Mental Health Services Program.
  • $4.6 million towards the Metro Re-entry Center, which offers crucial resources to former inmates upon release.

Tax Reform

Last week, we successfully passed House Bills 10151019 and 1021 which are all aimed at bringing Georgia citizens much needed tax relief. We are confident that each measure will help continue our economic success as a state, while putting dollars back into the pockets of our hardworking taxpayers.

  • HB 1015 lowers the individual income tax rate effective on January 1, 2024, from 5.49 percent to 5.39 percent, which would return another $1 billion to Georgia taxpayers.
  • HB 1019 would increase the statewide homestead exemption from $2,000 to $4,000.
  • HB 1021 would increase the child tax deduction from $3,000 to $4,000.


House Bill 1035 would allow for the sale of overdose reversal drugs, like Narcan, in vending machines. The bill would also protect those who dispense, supply and administer these drugs from liability when acting in good faith. This bill simply enhances Georgia’s 911 Medical Amnesty Law, which provides immunity from prosecution for any person who seeks medical assistance in good faith for someone experiencing an overdose. Further, this legislation would allow our public health commissioner’s ability to allow for the option of new opioid antagonist drugs to be made available over the counter.


Last week, we also worked to expand Georgia’s current, Realizing Education Achievement Can Happen (REACH) scholarship program. House Bill 970 stipulations are as follows:

  • Expands scholarship eligibility to victims of human trafficking.
  • Allows REACH participating school systems to designate REACH scholars each school year to receive the $10,000 scholarship without a limit on the number of recipients from each school.
  • Realigns state and local funding by requiring participating school systems to provide $1,000 toward the funding of the scholarship.

State of the Judiciary

Last week, we had the pleasure of hearing from Chief Justice Michael P. Boggs as he delivered the annual State of the Judiciary Address. The comprehensive update on the state of Georgia’s judicial system highlighted areas of strength as well as those which need improvement. Chief Justice Boggs commended the American Rescue Plan Act grants for managing caseloads but also underscored the pressing challenges faced by the judiciary, including shortages in court reporters, prosecutors, public defenders, court staff and sheriffs’ deputies. Chief Justice Boggs also took time to update us on judicial legislative issues of importance, as recommended by the Judicial Council Committee. All measures are under review within the General Assembly, and we will update you with news in regard to legislative movement.

We also passed the following bills during the fifth week of session:

  • House Bill 158, which would rename the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit, which is comprised of DeKalb County, to the DeKalb County Judicial Circuit, effective January 1, 2025.
  • House Bill 385, which would expand the definition of “uniformed services” to include the U.S. Space Force and Space Force Reserves. It would allow members serving in the Space Force or Space Force Reserves to obtain creditable service for any period of time in which their membership in a public retirement system or fund was interrupted. The employee and employer would be required to pay their respective contribution for the period of service time. The bill is certified by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts as a fiscal retirement bill, and an actuarial investigation determined there would be no cost to enact this legislation;
  • House Bill 456, which would increase the term for municipal court judges from one year to two years, unless the municipal charter provides for a longer term. If the term is memorialized in a written agreement, the agreement would not include a geographic limitation on the judge’s eligibility to serve and would not contain any provision that a judge serve in an at-will capacity;
  • House Bill 871, which would amend current law relating to homestead exemptions for qualified disabled veterans to allow the unremarried surviving spouse or minor children of a disabled veteran to continue receiving the homestead exemption granted to the disabled veteran, regardless of whether the unremarried surviving spouse or minor children relocate to any other county in the state;
  • House Bill 876, which is the annual housekeeping bill for the Department of Banking and Finance to modernize Georgia’s banking laws. This bill would provide revisions to and would update terminology and definitions in Georgia banking law. HB 876 would add language relevant to departmental approval of transactions and acquisitions so that unless the department has objected to the transaction, the department would forward written confirmation to the Secretary of State that the legal requirements have been satisfied. The bill would add annual registration requirements with the Secretary of State for foreign banks and would include definitions relevant to merchant acquirer limited purpose banks. HB 876 would repeal language with respect to ‘registrants’ and ‘registration requirements’ while maintaining ‘licensees’ and ‘license requirements’ in code;
  • House Bill 883, which would authorize county boards of health to conduct meetings by teleconference;
  • House Bill 945, which would require state health plan insurers to continue coverage when a hospital that is in-network becomes out-of-network with the insurer before the end of the plan year. This would apply to contracts on and after July 1, 2024;
  • House Bill 959, which would update the Spencer Pass Law to provide guidelines when drivers are approaching and passing a stationary motor vehicle when individuals are present outside of the vehicle or the vehicle is flashing its hazard lights;
  • House Bill 982, which would authorize the State Workforce Development Board to develop and approve a high-demand career list;
  • House Bill 992, which would increase the number of superior court judges for the Houston Circuit from three to four, with the additional judge being appointed for a term beginning July 1, 2024, and the first election for that judgeship taking place at the 2026 nonpartisan judicial election;
  • House Bill 1026, which would designate the Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby in Lyons, Georgia as the official soap box derby of the State of Georgia;
  • House Bill 1034, which would designate the fourth Friday in November as National Sugarcane Syrup Day;
  • House Bill 1048, which would designate cornbread as the official state bread;

If you have questions or concerns please feel free to reach out to us directly. As always, thank you for allowing me the honor of serving as your voice under the Gold Dome. May God bless you and keep you, may He continue to bless the great state of Georgia.


Stan Gunter

Representative of Georgia’s 8th District