The Georgia General Assembly completed legislative day 29 out of 40 on Friday, Feb. 26. On Friday the Senate debated and voted on several bills and I expect we will continue to pass more legislation protecting the rights of individuals and business owners throughout the state.
On Wednesday I presented Senate Bill 409 before the Senate Education and Youth Committee. I sponsored SB 409 to provide protection for children who are the victims of child abuse and neglect. SB 409 instructs public schools to post a sign, which displays the phone number for the Department of Family and Children Services, so that children can report child abuse and neglect. Oftentimes, we forget the dangers some children face each night as they head back home from school. This bill would provide a method for these victims of abuse to seek help and comfort without risking harm at home. SB 409 is on the Senate Rules Calendar for Monday and will be up for a vote by the Senate.
This week, I also presented SB 422 before the Senate Public Safety Committee. SB 422 is a bill I sponsored with the intent to help our county and local municipalities maintain vacant structures or lots, without going through a lengthy and expensive judicial process. Many times due to an owner moving away or perhaps fire damage, these homes pose a threat to our community in the form of lower property values and damaging community aesthetics. While this bill was not passed out of committee, I am encouraged by the committee’s proposals and look forward to presenting this bill again once it has been polished and refined.
We also hosted a number of special guests in the Senate Chamber this week. In particular, the Senate recognized Feb. 22 as Job Creators Network Day. An organization dedicated to free enterprise and entrepreneurship, the Job Creators Network works with legislators to advocate for free enterprise and innovation. It is always an honor to acknowledge those who do so much for small business owners throughout the state.
Several members of the 43rd District visited the Capitol this week as well. Seniors from the Rockdale Senior Center spoke to legislators about key issues effecting elders in Georgia. The Honor Flight Group, which sends World War II and Korean Veterans to Washington, D.C., was recognized in the chamber for their service to this great nation. National EMS was here and Benny Atkins from our district was recognized for providing care that exceeds the expectations of the community. It was wonderful to have treasured groups and members from our community at the Capitol.
I also welcomed Karrigan Mulligan as a page in the Senate Chamber this week. The Senate Page Program offers students a first-hand opportunity to visit the Capitol and observe the legislative process in action. I am always humbled to be visited by my constituents. It’s an honor to welcome them to the world of state politics and to give them a first-hand experience on what happens in the Senate on a daily basis. On Friday, Dr. Earl Thurmond from Lithonia served as the Senate doctor of the day. Dr. Thurmond is a native of Georgia and currently provides care for adult patients throughout metro Atlanta. He has a medical degree from Howard University and also a Master of Business Administration degree from Kennesaw State University. The Senate was privileged to have such a distinguished member of the medical community serve as doctor of the day.
Along with having several visitors to the Capitol from the district, I attended the grand opening ceremony for the new Oxford Science Building at Oxford College. The new building will open for classes in spring semester of 2016. It was an honor to attend the grand opening for a facility that will bring much needed resources to students and will advance their academic careers.
Next week, on Wednesday, March 2, I am inviting pastors in District 43 to visit the Capitol beginning at 10 a.m. and then for lunch around noon. Pastors are invited to RSVP with my office by Tuesday, March 1 at 4 p.m. Please contact my office at 404.463.2598 with any questions or to RSVP.
As always, I am honored to represent the 43rd Senate District, and my phone and doors are always open for questions about pending legislation or concerns about District 43. Please visit my website at janicevanness.com to sign up for my newsletter and follow me on Facebook at Senator JaNice Van Ness.
Senator JaNice VanNess represents the 43rd Senate District, which includes portions of DeKalb, Newton and Rockdale counties. She may be reached at 404.463.2598 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.