The 10th week of Session was mainly focused on the few bills that are likely to pass this year.
I haven’t spent much time talking about my bills this year. I have four, twice as many as I’ve ever done before, all of them specifically requested by the Pentagon. Most members have no bills, and those that carry bills usually have only one or two.
HB 25 allows service members to break certain contracts if they are ordered to serve in a part of the world that does not offer those services. There is already a federal Service Members Relief Act that covers many area issues, but due to the inability of Congress to pass any new legislation, the Pentagon has requested that states add a few more provisions.
The next two bills are Compact Bills. There are more than 200 Interstate Compacts in the U.S. and 35 in which Georgia already participates. Your drivers license is an example of a Compact that is shared by all 50 states. Compacts increase consumer protections because any malfeasance in one state is required to be reported to all the other Compact states. They also increase access to care and should help with the opioid crisis. Georgia has too few health care professionals, not too many. These Compacts will increase healthcare in Georgia.
HB 26 enters Georgia into a new Compact that allows all Psychologists to practice via telecommunication within the Compact States. It also allows in-person practice across state lines for a maximum of 30 days in case of an emergency, such as a school shooting or a natural disaster. The military needs this flexibility because of PTSD and other issues, as well as to allow their Psychologist spouses to work in Georgia.
HB 39 enters Georgia into a Compact that allows Physical Therapists to practice across state lines. The military needs this flexibility because - due to the dangerous and physical nature of their work - they hire more PT’s than anyone. This bill would also allow their PT spouses to work in Georgia.
HB 59 allows service members who have orders to move to pre-enroll their children in the new school system for classes and to join in lotteries for magnet or charter schools. It does not give special status to these children, nor guarantee selection in these courses. The bill costs nothing and is fully supported by the Department of Education. In fact, I have partnered with the DOE to create a new “Military Flagship” Award program to honor schools who take care of our military children.
Finally, I was very pleased to honor the 100th Anniversary of Ramsey’s Furniture this week. George Cunningham Sr. was one of the earliest settlers of Newton County. His grandson, C.D. Ramsey, founded the store in 1919; a family-owned business that survived two Depressions, the Great Recession, and almost a dozen wars. Mayor Sam Ramsey has served Covington for more than 35 years, building a legacy of success and progress that current generations are still enjoying. For a small business to last for 100 years is amazing. For it to remain in the same family, and for that family to add so much to their community, is nothing short of extraordinary.
I hope you will continue to pray for me as I attempt to serve Newton and Morgan counties.
Belton is a Republican from District 112, serving in the Georgia House of Representatives.