Committee meetings are finally underway here at the Capitol. I, and many of my colleagues, have had a busy week juggling our various committee appointments and other duties as senators. It’s been quite a productive week and we’ve made progress on a number of bills facing our state legislature.
Monday, we had the first meeting of the Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee, of which I am the Chairman. We heard testimony from a number of interested parties on the advantages and disadvantages of SB 264 and SR 135. SB 254 would allow pari-mutual wagering on horse racing in the state of Georgia, as well as legalize the creation of horse racing facilities in which customers can place wagers on local, national or international horse racing events. SR 135 is a constitutional amendment necessary for the bill to become law.
After a day of hearing testimony, both SB 264 and SR 135 received a do pass recommendation from the Committee. They will now be heard a second time in chamber and go to the rules committee to be assigned a hearing on the Senate floor.
We also had the honor of recognizing Monday as National Guard Day at the state Capitol. We were joined by many service members and their families and I joined the Senate in congratulating and honoring all men and women of Georgia who so bravely risk their lives for the safety of our state and country. U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson also stopped by to say a few words of encouragement to the Georgia National Guard and all the fine work they do.
Tuesday, we recognized an important issue faced by many in our state. An issue that is rarely brought up, but certainly deserves more attention: human trafficking. A resolution recognizing Tuesday, Jan. 27 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day at the State Capitol was unanimously adopted after remarks by individuals on the frontlines of the fight against human trafficking and advocate for its victims.
Wednesday, we heard our first bill of the session on the floor of the Senate. Senate Bill 137, sponsored by Sen. Marty Harbin of Tyrone, amends and expands a previous law to allow for corporations to collect property insurance payouts in full if a residential unit is destroyed completely by fire. SB 137 passed unanimously by the Senate.
We also attended the annual State of the Judiciary Address given by the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court Hugh P. Thompson immediately following adjournment Wednesday. The Address focused on the state of Georgia’s current court system and its future. Chief Justice Thompson discussed recommendations from Gov. Deal’s Committee on Appellate Jurisdiction on ways we can modernize our legal system to better handle the complicated cases of the 21st century.
We have completed Day 12 of the 2016 legislative session, and I am excited to continue moving forward with legislation that helps ensure Georgia remains the best it can be. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, comments or concerns. It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your senator and I always appreciate your feedback.
Sen. Rick Jeffares serves as Chairman of the Regulated Industries Committee. He represents the 17th Senate District which includes portions of Henry, Rockdale and Newton counties. He may be reached by phone at 404.463.1376 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.