The fifth week of Session was again mostly committee work, though we did pass out a few important bills.
Probably the most immediately important bill we passed was Senate Bill 25 which corrects an error in a bill we passed last year. One of the good things about having us in Session only 40 days every year is that – like a high school term paper – we actually finish our work on an assigned day because we do indeed have a deadline. The federal government does not have any deadlines and seemingly never completes any work – nor do they pass budgets, but instead sluff off endless Continuing Resolutions over the past few decades. On the other hand, the bad thing about a fixed deadline is that – like a term paper – we often complete most of our work on the last night. The error fixed by SB 25 returns the rule of stopping for a school bus back to the way you learned it when took your own driver’s license: you must always stop for a stopped school bus unless you are separated by “a grass medium, an unpaved area, or a physical barrier” when you are headed in the opposite direction of that bus. This was inadvertently and incorrectly altered last year on the last day of Session.
We also passed an important Rural Broadband bill in the House. Nearly all the members clapped and cheered at this near unanimous vote. HB23 will allow EMC’s to provide broadband service separate from their gas and electric service. HB 184 also passed the House, streamlining the archaic, many-headed internet tax structure into a single rate that will be applied all across the state. There will also be grants to incentivize development in rural areas. A third bill will allow the expansion of Small Cell 5G technology in urban and metro areas to bring even faster internet ability. Although this third bill is still in committee, by the mood of everyone in the House, I believe it will move early next week. We’ve waited long enough and must take real action now over the narrow angst of a few special-interests.
HB62 is a pro-woman bill that requires that notice must be given to women with dense breast tissue during their mammograms. This bill is sure to save many lives.
HB63 will increase affordability to healthcare by limiting exceptions to health benefits’ plans step therapy protocol to certain prescription drugs. This bill passed unanimously.
HB25 is a military bill that the Pentagon has asked me to carry. It allows servicemembers to cancel cellphone, health spa, television, and internet contracts if they are sent away on orders lasting over 90 days to a place where that service is not offered. It also passed with only one no vote.
I am working on three more bills for the military, and have obtained - by written policy - a commitment from Georgia’s Universities and Technical Colleges that they will from now on charge servicemember’s spouse or children in-state tuition regardless of their home of record. Most servicemembers remain citizens of their home or origin throughout their military career. I’m very proud to report that our Georgia Universities are now among the most Military-Friendly institutions in the entire country.
I hope you will continue to pray for me as I serve the people of Newton and Morgan counties. You may contact me at 706-372-4114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Belton is a Republican from District 112, serving in the Georgia House of Representatives.