Crossover Day was very long this year as the House passed nearly 50 bills. Unfortunately, most of those bills will probably not clear the Senate as they simply do not have enough time in 10 days to do the work we have done over the last 30 days. The Founding Fathers made it hard, not easy, to pass bills — in the hope that the laws we create will be good ones.
I was very pleased that my Military Study Committee passed the House unanimously. I am now having meetings with former Secretary of the Navy William Ball to come up with a coherent plan to protect our military installations here in Georgia. The Committee will be very large: 15 members vs. the standard five members, and will travel to the various bases in Georgia.
My School Transparency bill (HB 659) is moving nicely through the Senate, but I’m also very excited about SB 364 in the Education Committee that reduces the amount of standardized tests, allow local School Boards to choose their own tests and reduce the teacher evaluation piece on testing from 50 percent to 30 percent. It would also fix SLO’s and reduce TKES visits on our veteran teachers. I attempted this last year, but was stopped before I even got to Committee. Since then, I have been a very active voice in this discussion and am continuing to propose improvements to strengthen this badly-needed initiative for our over-burdened teachers. Thankfully, the message seems to be getting through as we work to return local control to our School Boards, re-empower the creativity of our teachers in their classrooms, and lessen the emphasis on standardized testing.
There was a very long Senate Committee meeting on the “Campus Carry” bill, which largely flew under the radar when it passed the House. The Regents and a myriad of other groups are now aligned against it. It should be noted that eight other states already have this provision, and a near majority of states allow individual universities to permit Campus Carry. I will also note that 92 percent of the mass murders over the last few years were perpetrated in so-called “gun free zones” and when assailant had a gun in similar situations the average death rate plummeted from 14-2. I believe the Senate will pass this along party lines.
I will highlight some of the bills we passed on Cross Over Day. HB 722 allows the shipment of low THC cannabis oil to Georgia, but falls short of growing the cannabis here and adds the oil into the code referring to driving under the influence. I know many of you wanted more, but this is the most we could pass this year. HB 1036 would place a temporary stop (one year) on all eminent domain claims on the proposed petroleum pipeline that would stretch toward Savannah until a study is done. HB 12 would make it illegal for someone to falsely claim to be a military veteran. HB 727 places some common-sense regulations of fireworks to deal with the thousands of complaints we received after legalizing it last year. It also gives local governments the ability to place greater restrictions if they choose. The Georgia Spaceflight Act (HB 734) provides model legislation that will help the thriving space industry in Georgia. HB 54 helps slain law enforcement and firefighters receive financial assistance for the education of their children. HB 229 expands grandparent’s visitation rights in child custody cases where the parents are no longer living together. HB 725 provides greater confidentiality of child abuse records. Finally, HB 779 regulates drones by banning their use for hunting, disallowing equipping them with a weapon, forcing police to gain warrants for their use, enacting privacy protections, and prohibiting their use around airports. There are now more drones in America than airplanes.
I was very happy to visit with Chelsea, Luke, and Silas Thornton who paged for me this week as well as Stanley Long who was at the capitol for the CWA.
I hope you’ll continue to pray for me, and contact me with your constructive comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-372-4114.