Hatchett, Anderson discuss support for Kemp’s legislative session goals

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Kemp outlined his plans for this year’s legislative session during his state of the state address Thursday afternoon. Some of these topics included education, rural health care, and constitutional issues that directly impact northeast Georgia.

Representative Victor Anderson and Senator Bo Hatchett discussed some of these topics with Now Habersham, underscoring their support for the advancement of the legislature addressed by the governor.

Public education

Kemp said he plans to make education a top priority during this legislative session. In his address, the governor said this session could be “historic” for public education.

Governor Kemp has emphasized the importance of public education during this legislative session, pushing for parental involvement in the classroom and extra pay for teachers. (Hadley Cottingham/Now Habersham)

“I believe that by working together, this legislative session will be historic for education in our state,” Kemp said. “Because building a safer and stronger Georgia starts with putting students and parents first.”

Kemp discussed pay increases and additional funding for Georgia educators and those working in public schools. He says his amended 2022 budget recommends a one-time $2,000 supplement for full-time public school educators and administrators, and a one-time $1,000 supplement for bus drivers, nutrition staff, nurses. and part-time employees.

Kemp says in his 2023 budget proposal, he would add $425 million to “fully fund our schools and fully restore all austerity cuts to education funding in our state that were made during the pandemic.”

Senator Hatchett says he plans to support public education and teachers as best he can during the legislative session. (Hadley Cottingham/Now Habersham)

“I was a product of public education and I commend teachers for the challenges they faced throughout the pandemic,” Hatchett said. “I am very supportive of public schools and the education they provide for our children.”

Governor Kemp denounced critical race theory and shared his plan to adopt and sign a “parents’ bill of rights,” which would further protect parents’ involvement in what students learn, see, and access in class.

“I look forward to working with members of the General Assembly this legislative session to protect our students from divisive ideologies, like critical race theory, that pit children against each other,” Kemp said. “I also look forward to working with the House and Senate to pass and sign a bill of parental rights in our education system and other pieces of legislation that I strongly support to ensure fairness in school sports and combat obscene content online and in our school libraries”.

Anderson says that while Habersham County hasn’t faced the problems that other areas of the state have with discussions of critical race theory or controversial classroom materials, he says the fact of getting a bill of parental rights passed by the legislature will keep it that way.

“We haven’t had the issues that have happened in other parts of the state and even in other states with involving parents in their children’s education,” Anderson said. “It doesn’t hurt to have that accent because it ensures that other parts of the state in the future will be run the way Habersham was run. Habersham School Board and our teachers are doing a great job.

Rural health

Kemp also touched on rural health care, something the Northeast Georgia community has faced firsthand.

“As we reduce insurance premiums, it is equally vital that we have doctors that Georgians can go to for care,” he said. “Doctors and nurses are in short supply across the country, but especially in rural Georgia.”

Members of the Senate give a standing ovation to healthcare workers fighting on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Hadley Cottingham/Now Habersham)

The governor said his budget proposals include $1 million in funding to expand healthcare worker education in colleges and universities, expand nursing programs in Georgia’s university system for up to 500 students per year over 5 years and fund the technical college system to accommodate up to 700 additional students per year.

With these investments, Kemp hopes to expand the state’s healthcare workforce to include more than 1,300 additional healthcare workers.

Rep. Anderson says the house is fortunate to have representatives in the house with a background in nursing and hospital administration to guide them through passing legislation to address rural health care issues, staffing and Medicaid expansion that will impact Habersham Medical Center.

“It’s an important topic,” Anderson said. “We are lucky because we have doctors, we have people with nursing backgrounds, we have people with hospital and medical administration, all the resources working to try to solve these problems.”

Constitutional port

“Constitutional carry,” or the ability to carry a firearm without a license, will be another hot topic in this legislative session. Governor Kemp spoke during the state of the state address that he believes constitutional porting will help Georgians feel safer in their communities.

“Most people in our district are strong supporters of the Second Amendment, and so am I,” Hatchett said. “I look forward to continuing to do everything I can, as I said when I was campaigning, to protect this. It’s just one more step which I think puts Georgia ahead. in our position to protect the Second Amendment.”

Critics have expressed concern that constitutional porting will make it easier for people with violent backgrounds to access firearms. Rep. Anderson strongly disagrees, saying it would have “no impact” on access to firearms.

Rep. Victor Anderson expressed his opinion that the constitutional carry would have no impact on local crime and violence. (Hadley Cottingham/Now Habersham)

“It does not affect the ability or the process of buying or acquiring a firearm,” Anderson said. “It will always be the same. There will always be background checks, there will always be certain circumstances where certain people will still not be able to obtain firearms. You are not going to change or reduce the requirements to get a firearm. All you’re going to do is allow law-abiding citizens to carry this weapon on their person without having to have a piece of paper.

Anderson says that no matter what legislation is passed to limit or expand access to guns, crime and violence will still happen. He says that should not limit law-abiding citizens exercising Second Amendment rights.

“I think most of us conservatives, and especially in northeast Georgia, what we have is a constitutional right given to us by the Second Amendment, the more the restriction is a violation,” Anderson said. “Domestic violence is going to happen. Crime will happen. People will try to hurt other people, even if you took all the guns in the world, it will always happen.

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