Burns comments on proposed mental health legislation

This is a partial rush transcript of comments from Georgia House Speaker Jon Burns on Feb. 21, 2023:

Well, thank you for y’all being here. And thank you for your patience. We, of course, we’re doing our most important job of the day — welcoming the pages here and thanking them for their service. But I certainly want to thank you all for being here today. I also want to thank my colleagues for being here today as we make this announcement, pretty important announcement.

As you all covered in great detail last year, under Speaker [David] Ralston’s leadership, the house undertook a major effort to reform mental health care in Georgia. Our mental health service delivery system was underfunded and not designed for the needs of a growing thriving state.

After months of work by the Georgia behavioral health reform and innovation commission chaired by now-[Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities] Commissioner Kevin Tanner. We arrived at a bipartisan solution in the form of House Bill 1013. That bill was revised time and time again thanks for the input of stakeholders and the advocacy community as well as our friends over in the Senate. Ultimately … tongue in cheek.

Ultimately, House Bill 1013 would go on to be unanimously adopted by both chambers both chambers and signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp. It was accompanied by more than … 180 million in additional funding and the FY 23 state budget. We said then that just would be a multi-year effort

Today, we begin the next chapter of our ongoing commitment to better mental health care in Georgia. We are mindful that speaker Ralston and his wife Cherie were [the] driving forces behind last year’s success. While we missed him dearly, we are proud to continue the work he inspired.

As with last year’s bill, this year’s bill will be bipartisan. It will again be co-sponsored by Chairman Todd Jones and Representative Mary Margaret Oliver. These two have continued pouring their time and talent into this critical issue over the interim. They have been constantly working with stakeholders, advocates, providers, legislators and other state officials.

I want to thank both Chairman Jones and Representative Oliver for how well they have represented the house through this through their selfless work. With that, let me introduce them to discuss the bill. After their remarks. We will take a few questions. Thank you, representative.

Palazzo Vecchio
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