Tech sophomore helps write senate financial bill

Beatty stood on the floor of the Georgia State Senate chambers, and she watched as they unanimously passed a bill she contributed to. // Photo courtesy of Brad Vaughan

During this legislative session, LillyAnne Beatty, a second-year PUBP at Tech, made significant contributions to Senate Bill (SB) 366 as a policy analyst. It successfully passed through the Senate on Jan. 30 and now awaits approval from the State House of Representatives. 

SB 366, titled the “Tax Expenditures Transparency Act of 2024,” is a bill that aims to permanently establish the Joint Committee on Taxation and Economic Development. This would allow for analysis and approval of tax incentive programs throughout the year instead of restricting it to the legislative session, which only lasts 40 legislative days. 

“I am proud of the Senate for passing SB 366, a priority of mine,” said Georgia Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones. “This legislation will expand the General Assembly’s ability to conduct audits and economic analyses of tax incentive programs while considering proposals for reform. From this year’s review process, it is evident that legislators need the time to hear all sides of these complicated issues, … and propose changes outside the crunch of the annual 40-day legislative session.”

In an interview with the Technique, Beatty discussed how she came upon this opportunity and what equipped her for success. Growing up, Beatty did not have a dream career but found that she had a talent and love for self-expression. This did not go unnoticed by her parents, and in middle school, they urged her to attend a debate club meeting.

“I remember the first time I went to a meeting … I was very adamant about not going, but I remember my mother promising that I was going to like it, and if I didn’t then I could stop. I never wanted to stop,” Beatty said. 

Eventually, she joined her high school mock trial team, where she discovered her passion for law. Last semester, she was a co-captain on the Georgia Tech Mock Trial team and is pursuing a minor in Law, Science and Technology. Through her experience in the School of Public Policy, Beatty developed a keen interest in policymaking. 

“I care deeply about what happens in our country, politics-wise,…but if I was going to work on something it was going to be the policy side of things,” Beatty said. 

In her POL 2101 class, “State and Local Government,” Professor Michael Polak helped Beatty apply her interests and make tangible changes in the policy sphere. This class was structured around a research project in which Polak works closely with his students to attempt to solve a policy problem. 

Beatty decided that she wanted to work on tax expenditures. Polak consequently connected her with Brad Vaughan, Legislative Director and Counsel for the Lieutenant Governor’s office. As she worked with him, she discovered a chance for economic improvement in the application of tax credits, which are available but not widely examined.

That previous summer, Governor Brian Kemp signed SB 6 into law, which permitted the creation of a temporary tax credit review committee. Beatty had the opportunity to attend the committee hearings in progress at that time and furthered her passion and expertise in this field. As a result, she decided to culminate her research for her class in the form of a legislative proposal to Vaughan. 

After her work with the Lieutenant Governor’s office the previous semester, Vaughan encouraged Beatty to apply to the Georgia Legislative Internship Program (GLIP) for Spring 2024. This program offers the chance for students to “serve full-time as interns to legislators, legislative committees, or legislative staffers,” according to their website. Now, she works as a full-time intern at the Lieutenant Governor’s office through the organization. 

On Jan. 11, what once was just a school project became real. While at work, Beatty found out that the research she had done in the fall was given to Senator Chuck Hufstetler, Chairman of the Finance Committee, and he became the current sponsor needed for it to be brought to the other committees. 

“Every bill is sponsored by a senator. And that essentially means that the Senator brought the problem to the attention of the people. They’re the one that introduces the bill … and [brings] it to the committee. That’s the bill’s sponsor, sometimes called the bill’s champion. The people who actually write the wording of the legislation are the legislative counsel. So essentially, lawmakers can bring these ideas to legislative counsel, and they will put it in the legally correct wording. What I did was draft a 50-page proposal, including my ideas for the things that I think needed to be included in legislation. The bulk of my work was interviewing people from the Office of Budget or Office of Budget and Policy Analysis,” Beatty said.

Seeing her proposal, Chairman Hufstetler decided to sponsor it, and champion the process of codifying it as a Georgia law. In fact, Vaughan surprised Beatty by having her pick up the hard vopy from the Office of Legislative Counsel. 

“He put the bill in my hands and that’s when everything got real. This is real. This is a bill. He said it [would] get assigned a committee and then they [would] hear it later that week. Next, it went to [the Finance Committee] because it’s an economic bill. On the day that it went to [the Finance Committee], I got there really early in the morning and told my family to join the live stream to witness it being introduced,” said Beatty.

Beatty went into the session without expecting anything special and was happy just to see a bill that she worked on get voted on, and she was especially surprised when one senator stood up to recognize her.

“My whole family got to hear Chairman Hufstetler say ‘I want to give credit where credit’s due to a sophomore at Georgia Tech. Her name is LillyAnne Beatty and she did the heavy lifting and the legwork on this bill.’ That was like the greatest moment of my life. I talked to him a little bit afterwards, and three session days later, I came to the next finance meeting and before we got started, he asked if I would stand up, and they all clapped for me, the whole committee in the room. It just felt so surreal,” Beatty said.

Beatty was especially greatful for her community at the Institute, and how her mentors cultivated her passion for policy and guided her to success. 

“I’m so thankful to be in the position that I’m in because, number one, it’s just a testament to Tech. I mean, just coming to this school you can really get anywhere and that’s just so incredible. I’m so thankful for it…Professor Polak was such a resource in this and gave me the tools that I needed to be successful, but he also made me want to use those tools…” said Beatty.

She especially gave thanks to Richard Barke, a PUBP professor who inspired her greatly.

“Dr. Barke, possibly the greatest professor ever, has let me sit in his office multiple times and ramble about policy and cool innovations and theories. And I will fully admit, I’m a very creative person, very artistic person, and I’ve questioned my major a lot, especially after my first year. I was convinced I was going to switch to industrial design, but I can confidently say that Dr. Barke single handedly kept me in this program, and taking his [PUBP 2010] class this fall is the reason that I will stay in this program no matter what.”