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Gold Dome Update: Week Four

This week the Senate was in session for four days, completing legislative day 14.  We are nearing the halfway mark and the pace is starting to pick up quickly with committee meetings and several bills being voted on the Senate Floor.

Early this week, I attended a press conference hosted by Sen. Renee Unterman, Chairman of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee, Sen. Dean Burke, Vice Chairman of the HHS Committee, and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle to announce the findings of a healthcare task force that met several times over the interim to make recommendations on improving the state’s healthcare system. While the overall condition of Georgia’s healthcare is good, the task force came back with two major recommendations. The first is to eliminate much of the bureaucratic red tape, which makes it difficult for some Georgians to get the care they need. The second is to allocate more resources toward fighting the growing opioid epidemic that is hurting communities nationwide. These recommendations were written into two bills – Senate Bill 352 and Senate Bill 357, respectively. Both pieces of legislation passed out the Senate Health and Human Services committee on Thursday.

I am very thankful for all of the hard work that every member has put in to this healthcare task force. SB 352 and SB 357 are direct results of their efforts canvassing the state and finding out what matters to citizens across Georgia. I am confident we will soon be able to bring these bills to a vote so that more Georgians can have access to healthcare and we will be able to dedicate resources toward stopping the opioid epidemic and getting our citizens on the road to recovery.

During this week’s Public Safety Committee, we passed House Bill 38, also known as the “Georgia Recognizing Veterans Act.” I proposed the committee substitute which removed the original language stating that a Georgia veterans’ license could only be obtained by those who served on active duty during wartime and fulfilled other extra requirements. With my proposed and adopted changes, veterans’ licenses could be obtained by any honorably discharged veteran with final passage of HB 38.

Additionally, the committee gave Senator Bruce Thompson’s cybersecurity bill a “due pass” recommendation. SB 315 would make it a crime to trespass on someone’s computer without authorization. Georgia is one of just a few states that does not have a penalty already in place for cyber trespassing, and I am glad my committee had the opportunity to move this bill onto the next step. We want to do all we can to ensure that your information is kept private and that breaches are addressed in a proper manner so those that commit the crime know there will be consequences.

This week, we also got one step closer to getting House Bill 159 – our update to Georgia’s adoption laws – to the Governor’s desk for a signature. The House passed their version of the legislation on Thursday with several proposed changes to what the Senate passed on day five. We did not take action on the legislation Thursday but instead opted to take time over the weekend to review the over 100 page bill to ensure that proposed changes made by the House are in the best interest of the child, parents and families wishing to adopt. I want to thank Lt. Governor Cagle and my colleagues for their hard work throughout the process and enabling us to get to this point.

If you ever have questions about the legislation facing the Senate, please do not hesitate to reach out. I am here for my constituents and always look forward to the opportunity to serve you.