Fast Approaching Sine Die

ATLANTA (March 27, 2015) | This week marks Day 38 of the 40-day legislative session. We have reached the point where committees are no longer meeting and we are working through the House bills that have been reported favorable by their respective committee. In the week before Sine Die, legislators worked to pass legislation that enables Georgia to remain the best state to work, play and live.

This week we passed one of the most talked about bills of the session, House Bill 1, known as Haleigh’s Hope Act. This bill makes it legal to be in possession of up to 20 fluid ounces of low THC cannabis oil for the treatment of medical ailments.

Georgians who suffer from severe or end stage cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and sickle cell disease, as well as those suffering from mitochondrial disease, seizures disorders and Crohn’s disease are eligible to potentially receive cannabis oil to ease their discomfort.

This legislation will require the patient to register on the Low THC Oil Patient Registry created within the Department of Public Health and will allow the use of THC oil on the premises of a healthcare institution. HB 1 will create the Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis, which will conduct clinical research programs. This legislation will provide civil immunity to health care providers who administer THC to patients.

The Senate made a few changes to the House version of HB 1, which means the bill had to be sent back to the House to receive their approval. The House passed HB 1 as amended by the Senate and it will now go to the Governor for approval.

Here are brief summaries of other bills the Senate passed this week:

House Bill 62: Current law requires the parents of special needs students seeking certain scholarships to be current Georgia residents who have lived in the state for at least one year. This legislation waives that requirement for students whose parents are active duty military and have been stationed in Georgia within the previous year. The Senate passed HB 62 and it is now awaiting Gov. Deal’s signature.

House Bill 198: This bill requires the Department of Education to adopt rules requiring all certified public school personnel in Georgia to receive annual suicide awareness and prevention training.

House Bill 225: Also known as the Uber bill, HB 225 provides for the governance of ride sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft. I am a big supporter of Uber and Lyft and this bill helps keep innovative companies thriving while deregulating taxi cabs and limos. In addition, for-hire drivers must receive criminal background check and purchase a master license, or continue to pay sales and use taxes on all fares collected.

House Bill 320: This bill prohibits public disclosure of any records that identify a current or former student, unless put in writing meant specifically for publication. These identifying records include name, address, school, telephone number or date of birth.

Next week, we will be in session for the final two days of the 2015 legislative session. Thursday, also known as Sine Die, your legislators will likely be in session until midnight working to pass the final bills on the calendar. We strive to pass legislation that works to better Georgia for everyone who lives here. If you have any questions or concerns regarding pending legislation, please feel free to reach out to me at any time!

I am humbled that you chose me to represent the 56th Senate District and I will do my best to ensure that your best interests are in the forefront of my decision making process.