Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan Announces Priorities for the 2022 Legislative Session
ATLANTA (January 6, 2022) | Yesterday, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan unveiled his agenda for the 2022 Legislative Session. Focused on expanding public safety resource avenues, addressing the shortage of mental health resources, improving Georgia’s foster care system and passing key budget items, Lt. Governor Duncan announced the following initiatives that he will prioritize during this year’s Session:
“LESS” (Law Enforcement Strategic Support) CRIME ACT
Ensuring the safety of Georgians in every corner of the state must be the first priority of state leaders. The “LESS” Crime Act will serve as the cornerstone of Lt. Governor Duncan’s agenda for the 2022 legislative session by incentivizing the community as a partner to reduce crime.
Modeled after Georgia’s groundbreaking Rural Hospital Tax Credit, the LESS Crime Act will create a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit for individuals and corporations who contribute to their local police department or sheriff’s office through a certified and affiliated law enforcement foundation. Contributions will be strictly limited to:
- Increase officer salaries
- Hire additional law enforcement personnel
- Expand police training programs
- Purchase or maintain department equipment
- Establish or maintain an existing co-responder program that is dedicated to addressing mental health-related emergencies
DEVELOPING A STATEWIDE MODEL FOR COLLABORATION BETWEEN LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS AND MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS
Complex demands on law enforcement officers include increasing emergency response calls for individuals with mental illness, developmental disabilities, or addictive diseases. Establishing the framework for a statewide co-responder model which combines the expertise of law enforcement and behavioral health specialists is a top priority that will be pursued through Senate legislation.
A collaborative approach to de-escalating mental health crises enhances public safety, prevents unnecessary incarceration of individuals who need treatment, and instead links those individuals to community services that promote stability, reducing the likelihood of future criminality. Not only will the Lt. Governor’s policy proposal provide a model for appropriately responding to a mental health crisis, but it will take one step further by requiring consistent follow-ups by behavioral health specialists to ensure individuals suffering from mental illness receive the care they need.
FOSTERING SUCCESS ACT
Caring for Georgia’s foster children is a heartfelt effort that doesn’t end at the beginning of adulthood. Each year, an average of 570 children age out of foster care with most needing guidance on how to navigate life challenges.
The “Fostering Success Act” will greatly help the efforts of underfunded caregiving organizations by allowing taxpayers to contribute to services specifically for the welfare of young adults who have aged out of the foster care system in Georgia. Contributions will significantly assist in areas such as education, nutrition, housing, counseling and overall well-being.
With contributions being credited against tax that is already owed to the state, the "Fostering Success Act" will have no net cost to the taxpayer while providing an incredible benefit to one of Georgia's most fragile populations.
1. K-12 Computer Science Funding
Understanding the critical need for computer science curriculum in K-12 education, the Senate passed Senate Bill (SB) 108 in 2019 which required all Georgia middle schools to offer instruction in Computer Science by the 2022 – 2023 school year and all high schools to offer at least one Computer Science course by the 2024 – 2025 school year. Ensuring the Amended Fiscal Year 2022 and Fiscal Year 2023 Budgets contain the necessary funds for the Georgia Department of Education to meet these aggressive goals will be a top budget priority as we focus on developing Georgia’s evolving workforce pipeline.
2. Ending “Hoteling” of Georgia Foster Children
When a child is unable to receive placement into a foster care home due to a behavioral or physical disability, current protocol places them into temporary housing (hotels) with Department of Family and Children Services supervision. This has become an incredibly costly practice for the state that does not prioritize the best interest of those placed into this situation. Working with the Governor’s Office and Department of Human Services to secure funding that provides the necessary resources to properly care for these children will be a crucial priority as we seek to make Georgia the #1 state to be a foster kid.
3. Increase Funding for the Department of Corrections
The General Assembly has continued to focus on maintaining the momentum of rigorous criminal justice reforms made over the past decade. As public safety serves as a critical component of the Lt. Governor’s legislative agenda, he will work to ensure the Department of Corrections has the necessary funding to hire, train and retain correctional officers.
In addition to the outlined agenda unveiled yesterday, Lt. Governor Duncan will continue working with Governor Kemp, and members of the General Assembly to pass conservative health policies that expand access to quality healthcare for Georgians in each part of the state.