It was a great week for the children of Georgia. Not only did my bill to protect teenage girls from having their phone number put on a pornographic website (“Kelsey’s Law”) pass unanimously, but a Cyber Bullying measure by my fellow Newton delegate Rep. Pam Dickerson also passed. Overall, there were many bills to protect children including the “Hidden Predator Act” which lengthens the amount of time a victim may bring a sexual abuse perpetrator to civil court. This bill moves Georgia from the fourth worst in the nation to where most states are now. There was also a bill that requires child care givers to immediately report suspected child abuse to the authorities.
On education, city and county school systems that share the same county will be required to divide ELOST funds in a proportional manner if they cannot reach a satisfactory agreement. This would have helped the situation between Newton County and Social Circle a few years back. Another allows Charter Systems to diversify their student populations by giving military and educationally disadvantaged children admission priority. This solves the “nice-to-have” problem where a good school unintentionally becomes undiversified because it raises home values to the point where that school zone becomes unaffordable for many.
A hotly debated bill requires insurance companies who were proven to have acted in bad faith (to their own customers) to pay a higher minimum penalty. This was vigorously opposed by a major lobbying group but passed by an overwhelming near-unamimous vote. You’ll also be happy to know that two measures that would have raised state fees failed on the Floor.
A bill to legalize fireworks passed, as did one that allows for the hunting of feral hogs. Another expanded Sunday sales of alcohol to 10:30 in the morning if that local government chooses to do so. Another requires trailer loads to be adequately secured. Another gives free license plates to disabled veterans, policemen, and firefighter’s.
There were two tax credit bills that will be great for Morgan and Newton: a historic preservation incentive and another to zoos like the new Georgia Zoo in Madison. There were also pro-business bills such as the “Georgia Business Act” and the “Georgia New Markets Job Act.” Another includes forestry machinery in the definition of farm equipment exempted from certain ad valorem taxes. Another prohibits secondary metal recyclers from purchasing catalytic converters. This has become a real problem in many states where thieves are stealing metal from all sorts of places.
A few House bills that did not pass were state-wide Sunday voting and the Religious Freedom Act, although a version of the later did survive the Senate and will be coming to the House for a vote.
Our last legislation was the “Todd Gurley” bill that makes it illegal to solicit a college athlete. It turns out that the Heisman hopeful who was sidelined for selling his autograph was allegedly lured by a fan of another SEC team who later sold the story to the highest bidder in order to get the athlete in trouble. (It worked.)
Remarkably, we passed over 200 bills in 30 days: 50 on Crossover Day alone. Overall, we wrote almost 5000 bills, resolutions, and amendments. Keep in mind that all the bills listed above were in the House and must still pass the Senate. I hope you will contact me with constructive comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-372-4114.