News from Sen. Horacena Tate
March 31, 2015
Sen. Horacena Tate

Friday, March 27, was the 38th legislative day of the 2015 session of the Georgia General Assembly. Only two legislative days remain, with final adjournment scheduled for April 2. 


Please continue to contact me with information from your community, views on your issues of concern, or whenever I can be of service. For more information, please be sure to visit 


Sen. Horacena Tate

Sen. Tate and  Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle welcome Dr. Meria Carstarphen, the new Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, to the Senate chamber.

Sen. Tate and colleagues Sen. Donzella James, Sen. Gloria Butler and Sen. Nan Orrock dressed in blue for Children's Day at the Capitol. 


Georgia State Capitol Senate approves medical cannabis legislation


On March 24, the Senate voted to approve an amended version of legislation that would authorize the use of cannabis oil to treat certain medical conditions in Georgia.


The Haleigh's Hope Act (HB 1) would legalize the use of cannabis oil consisting of no more than 5 percent THC would be authorized for the treatment of cancer, ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), seizure disorders related to epilepsy or head trauma, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, mitochondrial disease, Parkinson's disease and sickle cell disease.


Seventeen Georgia families have had to move out of state in order to obtain cannabis oil treatment for suffering children and other relatives. Senate amendments to the bill included the addition of clinical trials of medical cannabis to be conducted within the University System of Georgia.


The next day, the House of Representatives voted to agree with the Senate changes, sending the legislation to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature.


Senate amends transportation funding bill


The Senate voted March 20 to approve legislation that would generate approximately $1 billion in annual revenue necessary to maintain and improve the state's transportation infrastructure.


 HB 170, as amended by the Senate, would convert the current motor fuel tax/sales tax collected on gasoline and diesel to a 24-cents-per-gallon total excise tax, which is 5.2 cents lower than the amount approved by the House of Representatives.  


The Senate version would also raise transportation funding through a $5 rental car fee and direct $250 million per year from general revenues to debt service for transportation projects.  


To offset resulting losses in sales tax revenue for cities and counties, the plan authorizes cities and counties to use  special option local sales tax revenues collected on motor fuel without restrictions. 


As with the House-approved version, the Senate plan includes an annual fee on electric vehicles of $200 per year for private cars and $300 per year for commercial vehicles, which use the highway system without paying motor fuel taxes. HB 170 would also eliminate the state's aviation fuel tax credit to provide an additional $25 million in revenue.


HB 170 is now under consideration by a joint Senate/House conference committee appointed to iron out differences in the two versions of the bill.


Senate makes minor changes to 2016 budget


The Senate voted March 20 to approve a $21.8 billion annual state budget for fiscal year 2016, making only minor adjustments to the version approved earlier in the session by the House of Representatives.


The Senate-approved budget includes a 4 percent pay increase for Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges and a 2 percent raise for Superior Court judges, which would be the first state salary increases for those judges in more than 15 years. District attorneys would also receive a 2 percent raise, and other state employees would receive a 1 percent pay hike.


Local public school systems would receive an additional $280 million to restore previous funding cuts, with $103 million of that amount designated to continue health insurance coverage for school bus drivers and cafeteria workers. The budget also includes a $152 million funding increase to school systems to pay for growth in student enrollment.


The budget includes a 3 percent increase for HOPE Scholarships and HOPE Grant awards, and tuition equalization grants for private college students would be raised from $700 to $900 per year.

Transportation-related construction projects in the budget's $1.1 billion bond package total $200 million, including $100 million for roads and bridges and $100 million for transit systems.


The budget legislation (HB 76) is now in the hands of a joint Senate/House conference committee appointed to iron out the differences between the two versions of the budget.


Other House bills approved by the Senate in the past week include:

  • HB 18, which would exempt aerospace engineers from the requirement to have a professional engineering license.
  • HB 57, which would allow homeowners and small businesses to finance the purchase of solar panels for generating electricity.
  • HB 62, which would waive certain qualifications for special needs students when a parent of the student is an active duty military service member stationed in Georgia within the past year.
  • HB 86, which would establish the Georgia Adult and Aging Services Agency as a standalone agency, administratively attached to the Department of Community Health, replacing the Department of Human Resources' Aging Services Division.
  • HB 91, which would provide procedures for former students who did not pass one or more portions of the Georgia High School Graduation Test to petition to obtain a high school diploma.
  • An amended version of HB 106, which as amended would allow groups of counties to hold referendums on local sales taxes to pay for highway projects.
  • HB 160, which would repeal a provision prohibiting the trapping raccoons in eight counties where the practice is currently illegal.
  • HB 164, which would extend the suspension of professional learning requirements for certification renewal for personnel regulated by the Professional Standards Commission.
  • HB 174, which would include blighted areas in the state's Urban Redevelopment Law.
  • HB 198, which would require annual suicide prevention training for certificated school system personnel.
  • An amended version of HB 320, which would exempt from public disclosure certain Georgia Student Finance Commission, Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corp. and Georgia Student Finance Authority records related to scholarships.
  • HB 325, which would include 15-passenger vans manufactured after July 1, 2015, under the state's seat belt laws.
  • HB 393, which would allow Tesla to sell its electric vehicles in Georgia directly to the customer without having to go through an independent dealer.
  • An amended version of HB 477, which would provide for notice and right to acquire when public road property located within a subdivision is abandoned.
  • An amended version of HB 515, which calls for a referendum on the incorporation of a City of Tucker.
  • An amended version of HB 520, which calls for a referendum on the incorporation of a City of LaVista Hills.

The Senate voted in agreement with House changes to SB 2, which would provide for awarding a high school diploma to students who complete specified postsecondary coursework, and SB 51, which would allow pharmacists and pharmacies to substitute interchangeable biological products. Both bills go the Governor's desk for his signature.



Senator Tate's Legislation


Recent action on key legislation sponsored or co-sponsored by Sen. Horacena Tate includes the following:


SB 132 Quality Basic Education Act; program for high school students to attend post-secondary institutions; provisions; Move on When Ready Act (approved by Senate, referred to House Education Committee) 


SB 171 Probate Court of Cobb County; change the compensation of the chief deputy, assistant chief deputy and executive assistant to the sheriff (Approved by Senate, referred to House Intragovernmental Coordination Committee)


SB 172 Probate Court of Cobb County; change the compensation of the clerk of the Superior Court; change salary of deputy clerk of Superior Court (approved by Senate, referred to House Intragovernmental Coordination Committee) 


SB 190 Bona fide coin operated machines; provide certain definitions; license fees and requirements for manufacturers and distributors (approved by Senate)   


SB 214 Atlanta, City of; change the corporate limits of such municipality (referred to Senate State & Local Governmental Operations Committee)  


SB 216 Acworth, City of; adopt by reference a certain map (referred to Senate State & Local Governmental Operations Committee)


SB 217 Acworth,  City of; change the corporate boundaries (referred to Senate State & Local Governmental Operations Committee)  


SB 218 Redevelopment Powers Law; revise provisions relating to payments in lieu of taxes (referred to Senate State & Local Governmental Operations Committee)  


SR 447 Joint Study Committee on School Construction; create (referred to Senate Education & Youth Committee))  


SR 478 Georgia Budget and Policy Institute Inc.; recognize (referred to Senate Finance Committee)  


SR 479 Senate Ending Campus Sexual Assaults Study Committee; create (referred to Senate Health & Human Services Committee) 


SR 480 Tatum, Dr. Beverly Daniel; recognize (adopted by Senate)


SR 482 Booker Sr., Calvin E.; commend (adopted by Senate) 


SR 485 Sims Jr., Rev. James H.; recognize (adopted by Senate)  


SR 493 Spelman College Day; recognize March 20, 2015 (introduced)  


SR 495 Barbour, Lillian Riley; recognize (introduced)


SR 500 Lanoue, Philip D.; commend (introduced) 


SR 504 Meredith, Patrick McLeod; honoring (introduced)


SR 505 Job Corps; congratulate (introduced)


Click here to review and track the progress of all of Sen. Tate's 2015-2016 legislation. 

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Senator Horacena Tate
121A State Capitol
Atlanta, GA  30334
Phone 404-463-8053 Fax 404-463-7783
Senator Horacena Tate
Senate District 38
201 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd.
Atlanta, GA  30314
Phone 404-803-2119