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Anderson: Update from the Capitol: Week 6
Tonya Anderson
Tonya Anderson, a Democrat from Lithonia, was elected to the Georgia Senate in 2012.

We are officially halfway through the 2019 legislative session, and there is now a steady stream of legislation moving through the Senate. I am happy with the bipartisan nature of the legislation that has passed so far, and I know this trend will continue as we get into the busiest months of the session.

Senate Bills 17, 48, 55, 75, and 79 were passed on Wednesday. I would like to take some time to highlight Senate Bill 48. This bill would instruct the State Board of Education to develop policies regarding the screening of all kindergarten students for dyslexia, while also creating a referral system for students in grades one through three who show signs of dyslexia. It would also require the Professional Standards Commission to create a dyslexia endorsement for teachers, and include information regarding the education of dyslexic students in all teacher preparation programs. Dyslexia is an incredibly common learning challenge, and students who show signs of it are often misdiagnosed or diagnosed at a later age. Early detection has been proven to improve chances of academic success. The goal of our school system should always be to ensure that every single student, no matter their socioeconomic status or learning ability, gets the education and resources they need to thrive, and this bill does just that.

On Thursday, we passed several more pieces of legislation. Senate Bill 1, also called “C.J.’s Law,” passed through the Senate. This legislation would make it a felony offense, punishable by one to ten years in prison, for a driver to knowingly commit a hit-and-run that results in serious bodily harm to the victim. This is an incredibly important bill, and after hearing about C.J.’s story from the bill’s sponsor Sen. Elena Parent (D – Atlanta), I am happy that we passed this legislation quickly so we can prevent any more stories like C.J.’s.

An incredibly important piece of legislation that I support is Senate Bill 9 which deals with sexual extortion. SB 9 would prohibit a person from using personal information, such as photos of a person in a sexual act or knowledge of sexually explicit conduct, to coerce another person into sex. It would classify this as a “dangerous sexual offense,” therefore subjecting them to felony charges. Additionally, SB 9 would also make it so the perpetrator would have to be added to the Sexual Offender Registry. With the advancement of technology, sexual extortion has become all too common. I am told by my colleagues in the Judiciary Committee, where this bill is currently under review, that they have heard many citizens testify to their own experiences of sexual extortion and emphasized the necessity for this legislation. Sexual coercion tends to happen most often to our marginalized communities who are most vulnerable to this threat. I want to thank Sen. Harold Jones (D – Augusta) for sponsoring this vital legislation and ensuring the problems of those on the margins of society are taken into account, and rectified.

If you have any further questions about SB 9, current or future legislation, please do not hesitate to call or email my office. It is always a pleasure to hear from my constituents because I am here to represent all of those in my district to the best of my abilities. It is my great pleasure to serve the 43rd District.

Senator Tonya Anderson represents the 43rd Senate District, which includes portions of DeKalb, Newton and Rockdale counties. She may be reached by email at tonya.anderson@senate.ga.gov.