As I write, the General Assembly has passed the 30th legislative day, or “Crossover Day,” as it’s commonly called. Any legislation that hasn’t crossed over to the House or Senate is dead until we reconvene next year. For the remainder of the session, we will focus on reviewing House bills that crossed over to the Senate.
The Senate addressed several pieces of legislation last week in an attempt to improve education. We unanimously passed Senate Bill 132, the Dual Enrollment Modification Act. This legislation expands and modifies Georgia’s dual-enrollment program in which high-school students are given the opportunity to take post-secondary classes for high-school course credit. This bill will transfer oversight of the program to the Georgia Student Finance Commission and requires the commission to develop guidelines for dual enrollment.
Another bill that passed will strengthen students’ understanding of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. SB 116 mandates at least three hours of social-studies instruction on these documents and sets the week of Sept. 17 as Celebrate Freedom Week. It is important for Georgia’s children to understand the foundations of our country.
In an effort to restore our transportation system, which has been hit hard by storms, ice and other forces of nature, we unanimously passed SB 122 to allow special purpose local option sales taxes to be used for projects, including the repair of roads, streets and bridges that have been damaged or destroyed by natural disasters.
One bill that most of us couldn’t believe wasn’t law already is titled the Smoke-free Cars for Children Act. SB 130 makes it a misdemeanor to smoke in a car with a child younger than 15. It requires law enforcement to stop a driver for a primary offense first before charging the driver with this violation. Law enforcement would not be permitted to make a traffic stop solely for to charge a driver with smoking with a child in the vehicle. SB 130 passed, 37-3.
We also passed the Motorcycle Mobility Safety Act. SB 76 allows motorcyclists under certain conditions, such as when a stoplight may fail to change to green because a motorcycle or bicycle does not trigger the light’s censor, to disregard or disobey a traffic signal if the person has reasonable belief that the signal is unresponsive due to the weight or design of the vehicle. SB 76 passed, 51-4.
Quite possibly, one of the most-unknown programs in our state is the Georgia State Defense Force, which is part of the Georgia Department of Defense. The men and women of this force backfill our armories when our National Guard is mobilized and support the Guard in natural disasters. While they are not paid, they have made a commitment to help our state when we are in a crisis. To that end, we unanimously passed the State Defense Force Receives Equal Service Rights, or SB 69,. It grants members of the force the same re-employment rights as members of the National Guard and Reserves. SB 69 also will remove restrictions regarding the rights of members to be absent for service and will allow the reemployment of former members.
Some of the hottest small businesses in the greater Savannah area are brewpubs. We easily passed SB 63, the Brewpub and Growlers Act, legislation that expands limited exceptions to the state’s current three-tier distribution system for alcohol. The legislation allows patrons to consume up to 36 ounces of beer per visitor on-site at licensed brewpubs, as well as take home up to 64 ounces of beer.
In an effort to raise awareness of privacy laws, we passed the Law Enforcement Officials and Recording in Private Places, or SB 154. This legislation states that it is illegal for any person to observe, photograph or record the activities of another in any private place without consent. This legislation will revise the definition of “private place” to mean a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. This legislation also will allow law-enforcement officials and other personnel to use recording devices while executing a lawful arrest or search warrant. SB 154 passed 39-6.
With many of our boys playing football in Georgia, we passed the Deantre Gregory Turman Act, SB 176, which will strongly encourage football players to wear helmets that have at least a four-star rating on the Virginia Tech Helmet Ratings scale at the time of participation. This was done to minimize head injuries from the use of football helmets that do not provide the necessary protection.
Your input and concerns are important to me, and I encourage you to contact me as this legislative session continues. I can be reached at 404-656-7880 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for allowing me to represent you in the Senate.