It was a great week for Newton County! I am ecstatic to tell you that “Haleigh’s Law,” the medical cannabis oil bill, passed both the House and Senate and was signed by the Governor this week. Also my bill, “Kelsey’s Law,” passed unanimously in the Senate near midnight on the last night. I was also very excited that Newton County Representative Pam Dickerson’s cyber-bullying law passed both the House and the Senate.
The Governor’s Opportunity School Districts bill also passed. You will be hearing a lot about this next year as you — the voter — will decide at the ballot box if the Governor should be allowed to take over a few persistently failing schools. I have discussed this in depth and worked very hard with the Governor’s office to make this bill more palatable to school boards. And it is important to remember that it will NOT affect Newton or Morgan counties. It would only affect “F” schools as defined by the department of education, and our schools are much, much better than that, and they are making impressive gains.
Overall, most of the arguments about this measure is about adults talking about adult things instead of what is best for the child. An Opportunity School would at least provide the chance that these poor children have the opportunity to get a better education. But there is no doubt that it is deeply unpopular with many teachers who feel threatened by this paradigm shifting approach.
I’m pleased to report that a compromise has been made to accept a form of the Senate’s Autism bill that died last year. A startling 1 in 65 boys in America suffer from autism, and it is high time we did a better job with early intervention.
Numerous studies show that the earlier these kids are diagnosed and treated, the much better they do in life…thus the greater chance they have in becoming productive citizens.
Other interesting bills include “Tanja’s Law” which will help protect police and military dogs. Senate Bill 134 will close a loophole that disallowed drivers to fight speeding tickets that were over 20 mph over the speed limit. And I was glad that a bill that would disallow local counties on the coast to disallow plastic bags failed because it was severely anti-local control. These counties are considering the ban in order to help sea turtles and other marine life.
The Transportation Bill also passed by a wide margin. Again, I was forced to recuse myself because of the “Delta Tax” on jet fuel that created a direct ethical conflict for me (I work for Delta Air Lines). The big changes were a compromise between the House and the Senate to increase taxes to 26 cents a gallon on gas and 29 cents on diesel. The other was to eliminate the proposed tax on rental cars and place it instead on hotels at $5 a night. According to studies, 86% of hotel stayers come from out of state. Overall, this package will raise $900 million of the $1 billion dollars the Governor was looking for.
I hope you will contact me with constructive comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-372-4114.
Dave Belton is the newly elected District 112 Georgia Representative. The Morgan and Newton County representative is serving in his first term in Georgia’s House. He is a resident of Morgan County.