Last week, we neared the halfway mark for the session, as we completed legislative day 18. During the week, we were busy with Appropriations Subcommittee and standing committee meetings. We also passed 11 bills on the Senate Floor. One of the 11 was the compromise on House Bill 159, also known as the “Adoption Bill”.
After tireless work, numerous meetings, and compromises on both sides, the House and Senate came to an agreement on HB 159. I want to commend my colleagues, our friends across the hall, staff, and all stakeholders who came together to update Georgia’s adoption code. We showed that we can all work together and put our differences aside to ensure that Georgia’s children and families come first instead of political games and gain. This legislation is now on its way to the Governor for his signature and I look forward to HB 159 becoming law and Georgia’s children being placed in loving, caring homes.
Last Monday a bill I sponsored, Senate Bill 331, passed the Senate with a vote of 51-4. The bill would allow lottery prize winners to remain anonymous if the prize amount is $250,000 or greater. Winners would be able to remain confidential if the individual requests anonymity. I believe this legislation is necessary to shield winners from people attempting scams to steal some or the entire prize. The bill will now go to the House for consideration.
Revising Provisions for the Department of Revenue Relating to Tax Liens
House Bill 661 would eliminate the Department of Revenue’s certificate of clearance and require the clerk of the superior court to file tax liens in the county where the property is located. HB 661 passed with a vote of 55-0.
Senate Wears Red to Bring Awareness to Women’s Heart Health
Senate Resolution 677 aims to bring awareness to women’s heart health. Several members of the Senate wore red in recognition of the “Go Red for Women” campaign that advocates for preventative care and seeks to ensure women are educated on the early warning signs of strokes and cardiovascular diseases.
Deferred Compensation Plans
Senate Bill 333 would allow state or local government employers to pay the cost for their employees participating in a deferred compensation plan. SB 333 passed with a vote of 53-0.
Veterans Drivers Licenses
House Bill 38 designates that anyone who has served in the United States military and was honorably discharged would be eligible to receive a driver’s license with a veteran designation. The bill would also make licenses free of charge for veterans. HB 38 passed with a vote of 50-0.
Commending Major General Crenshaw and the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany
Senate Resolution 659 commended Major General Craig Crenshaw and the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany for its positive economic impact to the region, state and country. The base has an annual economic impact of $1.5 billion in Georgia and is the region’s largest employer. There are approximately 4,000 employees, including 350 active duty service members, working at the base.
Girl Scout Day at the Capitol
Senate Resolution 665 recognized February 6, 2018, as Girl Scout Day at the state Capitol. The Girl Scouts were founded in 1912 in Savannah, Georgia, by Juliette Gordon Low. Ms. Low broke conventions of the time by reaching across class, culture and ethnic boundaries to ensure that all girls had a place to grow and develop their talents and leadership skills.
Honoring Georgia’s Firefighters
Senate Resolution 675 recognizes February 6, 2018, as Firefighters Recognition Day at the state Capitol. There are 900 fire departments across the state with more than 300,000 firefighters who dedicate their lives to saving citizens and their property. These individuals play an important role in maintaining firefighting standards and educating the public on fire prevention and suppression methods.
Georgia Science Teachers Celebrated
Senate Resolution 696 recognizes the Georgia Science Teachers Association (GSTA) for helping science teachers connect with each other, access information on important research and advocate for science education. GSTA is committed to educating and supporting science in Georgia’s K-12 schools, colleges and universities.
Expanding Insurance Coverage for Autism
Senate Bill 118 which would require medical insurers to provide coverage for children age 12 years and younger who are receiving treatment for autism spectrum disorders. Current law only provides coverage for children ages six and below. SB 118 passed with a vote of 50-3.
Senate Confronts Opioid Crisis
Senate Bill 352 would create the Commission on Substance Abuse and Recovery and an Executive Director of Substance Abuse, Addiction and Related Disorders. SB 352 would use a multifaceted education strategy to provide students with the resources needed to reject the threat of substance abuse. The bill would also create a partnership with providers and communities across Georgia to prohibit patient brokering. SB 352 passed with a vote of 53-0.
Senate Bill 357, also known as the HEALTH Act, would establish two new programs: the Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the State of Georgia and the Health System Innovation Center. The bill streamlines the functions of Georgia’s health care system and breaks down silos among various state agencies, academic institutions and the private sector. SB 357 passed with a vote of 53-1.
Commending Captain Reuben Black
Senate Resolution 601 commends Gainesville native Captain Reuben Black for his work on the frontlines in the battle against Georgia’s opioid epidemic. He has organized and participated in more than 90 interventions with individuals who have struggled with substance abuse. Cpt. Black served as the training coordinator for Project DAN, which trained more than 5,000 law enforcement and fire officers to respond to drug overdoses.
City of Columbus Day at the Capitol
Senate Resolution 615 recognized February 7, 2018, as Columbus Day at the state Capitol. The city of Columbus was the first consolidated government in Georgia and the region is renowned for its whitewater rafting, natural landscapes and expansive defense entities. Columbus is home to numerous national and international institutions including Aflac, Fort Benning, Synovus and Total System Services.
Senate Celebrates Fort Benning’s Centennial Anniversary
Senate Resolution 616 celebrates the 100th anniversary of Fort Benning. The city of Columbus was selected as one of four prospective sites for a base to train WWI soldiers and on August 17, 1918, the general staff of the United States Army approved the recommendation of bringing an Infantry School of Arms to Columbus. The facility was formally christened as Camp Benning on October 19, 1918.
Honoring Georgia Forestry Units of the Year
Senate Resolutions 626, 627 and 628 recognize the Chattahoochee Georgia Forestry Unit as the Georgia Forestry Commission’s 2017 District of the Year. In addition, the Bleckley-Pulaski Unit was named the South Georgia 2017 District of the Year and the Pike-Spalding-Lamar-Upson-Clayton Forestry Unit was named the North Georgia Forestry Commission’s 2017 District of the Year. The mission of the Georgia Forestry Commission is to provide leadership, service and education in the protection and conservation of Georgia’s forestry resources.
I hope you will take the opportunity to review my weekly updates to stay informed on legislative matters that affect our district and state.
I am always eager to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me at anytime.