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Anderson: Weeks 11 and 12 in the Senate
Tonya Anderson
Tonya Anderson, a Democrat from Lithonia, was elected to the Georgia Senate in 2012. - photo by Special Photo

Over the course of the past week, the Senate has accomplished a lot and adjourned the 2019 session Sine Die. A lot happened, in fact over 100 bills and resolutions made it through our chamber over five legislative days. In this column, I’ll go over a few of the bills that received final passage and will be sent to Governor Kemp’s desk to either be signed or vetoed.  

House Bill 339, which I carried for Rep. Dewey McClain in the Senate, would create specialty license plates for Alabama A&M University, the Georgia Aquarium and Autism Awareness. Additionally, it would reallocate the funds from the Alpha Kappa Alpha license plate to the Ivy Community Foundation, Inc. It's bills like this that really make quite the difference for organizations across our state, as the fees for these license plates go to help benefit the organizations. I was happy to help give this bill final passage and look forward to the legislation becoming law upon the Governor’s signature.

There were several military-friendly bills that were given final passage in the Senate this past week. House Bill 25 would allow certain contracts including television, video and audio programming, internet access and gym memberships to be immediately terminated by military service members. Service members may do so upon receiving military orders to relocate for a period of at least 90 days. Senate Bill 103, sponsored by my friend, Sen. Gail Davenport, would require three parking spaces for disabled veterans be reserved at the airports in Macon and Savannah. House Bill 59 would allow children of military parents to enroll in a public school, before establishing physical residency, based on official military relocation orders. All of these pieces of legislation were passed with overwhelming support, showing our dedication to helping make Georgia the best place to live for active duty and retired military members.

This session saw several bills receive a lot of media coverage. This includes House Bill 324 and House Bill 213. HB 324, also known as “Georgia’s Hope Act,” would create a five-member Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission to oversee the sale of low-THC cannabis oil to Georgians who are registered patients suffering from designated diagnoses. The proposed commission would be in charge of: obtaining oil outside of Georgia as they have sovereign immunity working on behalf of the state, issuing Class 1 and Class 2 licenses for the production, growing, manufacturing and dispensing of the low THC oil, conducting a retrospective study to ensure proper participation of minority and women-owned businesses and overseeing the issuing of retail licenses. The University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University would be able to apply for federal licenses to grow marijuana for the purposes of converting it into cannabis oil for research. Additionally, the state Board of Pharmacy would be allowed to license pharmacies interested in selling oil to registered patients. This bill’s intent is to provide a safe, reliable source of low THC oil to patients who need it, as often times these patients are traveling across the country to get the oil. I am happy for the patients who need this and will now be able to access it in-state.

Additionally, HB 281 passed the Senate. This legislation would increase certain criminal penalties related to pimping and pandering. Specifically, this bill would require that those convicted on pimping or pandering charges on a first offense be charged with a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature with a mandatory 72 hours of imprisonment. On a second offense, the individual would be charged with a felony and a prison sentence of one to 10 years. Finally, if any individual is convicted of pimping, pandering or keeping a place of prostitution, and any charge involves a minor, the punishment would be increased to 10 to 30 years of imprisonment and a fine of $100,000. This legislation takes a tough stance on something we hear about a lot, sex trafficking. I was proud to support it, and hope it will deter this atrocious activity.

Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you at the Capitol. It’s been a very productive session, but our work is not over yet. I look forward to seeing what the off-session has in store and what ideas we come up with for the next session. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.

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