News from Rep. Pam Dickerson | Georgia House District 113
February 10, 2015
Rep. Pam Dickerson

Wednesday, Feb. 11, will be the 14th legislative day of the 2015 session of the Georgia General Assembly.

Please feel free to contact me with your views on the issues facing our state, or whenever I can be of service. Thank you for allowing me to continue to serve you in the Georgia General Assembly.

Rep. Pam Dickerson 

Rep. Dickerson and Speaker David Ralston thank Brandon Crockett for his service as a page in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Dickerson presents legislation to the Clerk of the House of Representatives for consideration by her colleagues.

Rep. Dickerson joins (L-R) House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, Rep. Tonya Anderson and Rep. Dee Dawkins Hagler for a presentation from the well of the House.

Georgia State Capitol

House unanimously approves solar power financing legislation

The House of Representatives voted unanimously Feb. 9 to approve legislation that would allow homeowners and small businesses to finance the purchase of solar panels to generate electricity.

The Solar Power Free Market Financing Act (HB 57) is the result of nine months of careful negotiations between the solar industry, Georgia Power, the electric membership corporations and members of the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia. It is designed to enable residential and business customers to use leases or output-based financing agreements to install solar technology on their property and connect it to the grid.

Georgia has had strong growth in utility or large-scale solar but only a small amount of small-scale solar. This legislation does not contain any tax breaks or credits, nor does it change regulations for existing solar installations or cash purchases. Likewise, existing requirements dealing with the sale back to the utility of any excess solar-generated electricity are not changed.

Based on the size of the installations, utilities can enforce appropriate safety and power reliability requirements on the solar provider. Georgia Power, the EMCs and MEAG members are able to engage in solar financing if desired, but they have to remain in their own territory, and existing legal protections for consumers would remain in place. HB 57 does not alter the zoning rights of city or county governments.

The legislation now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

Lawmakers hear State of the Judiciary message

On Feb. 4, Chief Justice Hugh Thompson of the Supreme Court of Georgia delivered the annual State of the Judiciary address to a joint session of the House and Senate. Declaring the judicial system in Georgia as sound and strong, Chief Justice Thompson praised the state's successful expansion of specialty courts, also known as accountability courts, which represent a cost-effective justice alternative for non-violent offenders.
Some specialty courts, such as drug and mental health treatment courts, hold offenders accountable through court-supervised treatment programs. Veterans' courts match military veterans who are non-violent offenders with supportive volunteers who are dedicated to keeping our veterans on the right path by mentoring them through the program. More than 5,000 Georgians have had their cases handled by a total of 116 accountability courts to help reduce the taxpayer burden of incarceration.
Chief Justice Thompson also reported that some areas of rural Georgia are facing challenges regarding access to justice. Six counties have no lawyers at all, and 20 counties have fewer than five lawyers, resulting in a growing number of citizens coming to court without legal representation. The Chief Justice asked the General Assembly to support newly introduced legislation (HB 236), which would create a pilot program to assist law school graduates with repaying their college loans if they agree to work in an underserved county for at least five years.
Education bills move through committee

The House Education Committee has favorably reported legislation that would waive certain residency requirements so that children of active duty military personnel in Georgia will be able to receive special needs scholarships. HB 62 addresses the fact that military families are often required to relocate across the country and would ensure that these children would not be denied certain educational opportunities as a result.
The Education Committee also voted to approve HB 65, which is designed to increase transparency in local school boards by requiring the boards to hold at least two public meetings before adopting any budget. This would give taxpayers, parents and other citizens the opportunity to see and provide input as to how education dollars are being utilized.
HB 62 and HB 65 now await action by the full House of Representatives.

Rep. Dickerson's Legislation
Recent action on legislation sponsored or co-sponsored by Rep. Pam Dickerson:

HB 131 The End to Cyberbullying Act; enact (under consideration in House Education Committee)

HB 150 Taxation; additional credit amount for productions that employ veterans; provide (under consideration in House Ways & Means Committee)

HB 161 Income tax; new exemption for contributions used to promote the well-being of certain children; create (under consideration in House Ways & Means Committee)

HB 262 Education; minimum base salary for certified professional personnel with bachelor's degree and no experience; revise (introduced)

HB 272 Minimum wage; provide for substantive and comprehensive reform of provisions regarding the law; provisions (introduced)

HR 227 Styles, Robert; commend and invite to House (referred to House Rules Committee)

HR 235 Bills, Judge Nancy N.; commend (adopted by House)

HR 251 Girl Scouts Day at the Capitol; February 10, 2015; recognize (adopted by House)

Click here for all of Rep. Dickerson's 2015-2016 legislation.

Contact Rep. Dickerson
At the Capitol:
611-E Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Atlanta, GA 30334
Phone 404-656-0314
In the District:
P.O. Box 1016, Conyers, GA 30013
Phone 770-602-0085