Session 2017: Week 9
Session 2017: Week 9
The ninth week of the 2017 session began on Monday, March 6 at the Golden Dome. Now that the significant “Crossover Day” is behind us, the House aimed its attention towards legislation that was already passed by our counterparts in the Senate. We also focused heavily on reviewing Senate bills in House committee meetings, scrutinizing each bill thoroughly before its final passage. My colleagues and I will continue to work diligently as we draw nearer to the end of session. The following bills passed on to the House floor for voting:
Senate Bill 69
This bill would eliminate the unnecessarily complex registration requirements for people who produce, process, distribute, or handle organic food products in Georgia, eliminating the necessity to register with the Georgia Department of Agriculture. The certified organic producers would instead only be required to register with the USDA. These repetitious registration requirements are used to create lists of certified organic producers, but the Georgia Department of Agriculture would link to this list through their website. The simplification of this process benefits all Georgians who are certified organic producers.
Senate Bill 78
Overwhelmingly passed, this bill would permit the distribution of variances or waivers to certain Department of Agriculture rules and regulations concerning food contamination and the misbranding of food products. The Commissioner of Agriculture would be given the ability to alter all or part of a food safety requirement or rule if that rule would hinder the individual’s ability to stay in business; however, in order to do this, the individual must ensure the capacity for another option. The FDA already approves of this method at the federal level, but the variances or waivers would not be granted if doing so would harm the health and overall safety of Georgian citizens.
Senate Bill 102
This bill, yet another passed with significant support, would create the Office of Cardiac Care (OCC) in the Department of Public Health. The OCC would delegate certain hospitals who apply to be selected as “emergency cardiac care centers,” providing three levels of emergency care to determine the particular needs of each patient. Grants would be awarded to chosen hospitals if they require funding, but an annual report that specifies the number of hospitals that applied, the number of eligible applicants, the number of grants to be awarded, and the name and the amount awarded to each grantee must be submitted to the governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House and the chairpersons of both the House and Senate Health and Human Service committees. A list of all hospitals designated as “emergency care centers” would be given to the medical directors of Georgia’s licensed emergency medical services and a copy of the list must remain online. The OCC would also be responsible for compiling data on all reports of cardiac arrests and heart attacks that occur outside of the hospital in an attempt to improve survival rates. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Georgia, so speedy emergency services must be provided to save more lives.
House Resolution 389
This resolution addresses an issue that has been a significant topic in this session, rural Georgia communities. With the creation of a House Rural Development Council made of up 15 members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House, economic development opportunities, solutions in the policies of education, infrastructure, health care access, and economic growth incentives in these communities could be addressed. This council would begin a methodical, in-depth two-year study on April 1, 2017. Through meetings with local officials, educational and business leaders, healthcare providers, civic groups, and any individuals offering input in rural areas, the council would then submit a report of their discoveries and legislative recommendations, one due on December 31, 2017, and the other due exactly a year thereafter on December 31, 2018. Rural Georgian businesses deserve to thrive as much as city businesses, and this resolution will work towards that goal.
House Resolution 170
This resolution would bring light to a largely unnoticed disease called myalgic encephalomyelitis (or “chronic fatigue syndrome”), a cellular disorder that restricts the individual’s ability to sleep, move, or do any activity that requires physical or mental exertion, leaving patients bedridden and unable to live a normal life. No diagnostic or FDA approved treatment exists for the disease. Because of this, this disease costs our state between $75 million and $685 million each year. This resolution would encourage state agencies, medical service providers, health care agencies, research facilities, medical schools, and other interested parties to intensify research on the disease, enlightening others of this crippling and unfortunately obscure disease.
Additionally, on Thursday, March 9, Third Infantry Division Day at the Capitol, my colleagues and I had the pleasure of praising some admirable Georgians, including Major General James E. Rainey and the men and women of Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield’s Third Infantry Division. Identified as the top U.S. Army installation worldwide six times, 20,000 active military soldiers call Fort Stewart home. Fort Stewart, developed in both world wars, the Korean War, the Persian Gulf War, the Cold War, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, is also recognized as having one of the most successful combat records of any U.S. Army division with impressive 51 Third Infantry Division members as Congressional Medal of Honor recipients. The House also honored Major General Rainey and the Third Infantry Division with House Resolution 490 for their service and sacrifice.
On March 6, we also celebrated Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at the State Capitol, a day devoted to recognizing the highly trained, professionally certified peace officers of our state who strive to keep us safe. Georgia’s officers are required to successfully pass through a comprehensive training program that covers classroom instruction, practical skills building sessions, and advanced specialized courses. After doing so, Georgia’s officers become responsible for the enforcement of traffic laws and investigations, the provision of criminal investigation and forensic laboratory assistance, the quick response to natural disasters, and the promotion of overall crime prevention and public safety.
The week ended on Friday, March 10, the 31st day of our 2017 legislative sessions. As we draw nearer to the last days of the 2017 session, I hope you will reach out to me if you have
any questions on bills that may be up for consideration during these final weeks. As your
representative, your thoughts and opinions on these important issues are essential to my decision-making process, and I appreciate your input and am happy to answer your questions.
You are always welcome to stop by my office located at your 228-A State Capitol Atlanta, GA 30334, and you can reach me at my Capitol office phone number, which is (404) 656-5099, or by email at email@example.com.
You can learn more about me on my Facebook page. Visit www.house.ga.gov to livestream House proceedings, to view both live and archived committee meetings and to review legislation that my colleagues and I are considering.
Stay up-to-date on the current legislative session and check back here next week. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative!
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