I was blessed to pass three bills on the floor of the House last week.
The first was a Compact Bill that allows speech pathologists and audiologists in Georgia to join other states with the same minimum requirements so that they may all practice in all these other states. The bill is specifically requested for by the Pentagon, which I am in close contact with. The military wants the measure so that their military members – and especially their spouses – can easily use their license in these participating states. The Compact will apply to ALL speech pathologists and audiologists in Georgia, not just those in the military. It will also help with telemedicine. The bill passed almost unanimously.
I also passed a similar Compact bill for counselors. As you know, due to the traumatic work that our military heroes have to perform, they are the largest single segment in our society who needs counseling and psychiatric services. This bill would also allow counselors to cross participating state lines, in case of a traumatic event like a horrible storm or a school shooting where there is a great need for many counselors to rapidly deploy to a troubled area. This bill also helps with telemedicine. The bill passed unanimously.
In all, Georgia has passed seven Compact bills for our military, four of which are already in law.
The last bill I passed this week was also for the military. It allows for a young person under the age of 18 to get a drivers license without having to wait a full year. You should be proud that Georgia ranks second in the nation in military recruitment. When our young people enlist, they are often given better initial opportunities if they have a drivers license. Sometimes, these better opportunities mean better rank when they enter. Believe me, there’s a big difference from being a “buck” private to being a Private First Class. This bill also cleans up the confusing requirements for all Georgia residents under the age of 18 to get their license. The bill passed unanimously.
My Teacher Tax Credit Bill should go to the floor this week. Again, it would incentivize teachers to teach at a poorly performing or very rural school by giving 1,000 selected participants a $3,000 tax credit for five years. Over 3,000 teacher positions went unfilled last year, especially in these schools. The teacher pipeline is shrinking while class sizes and the number of children are going up. Worse, nearly half of all new teachers quit less than five years into their profession. Hopefully, this bill will help to alleviate this. Almost all states have programs like this, showing very good results.
Dave Belton is a Republican from District 112 in the Georgia House of Representatives, serving Morgan and Newton counties.