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Guest opinion: Bill looks to help law enforcement
Ben Watson
State Sen. Ben Watson

State Sen. Ben Watson, MD, Guest writer.

As the 2022 session continued this past week, much committee work was done as committees held hearings and decided on legislation before them. My own legislation, which is intended to assist communities with mental health issues, will have its hearing this coming week in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Senate Bill 403 is a public safety measure designed to create additional tools available for law enforcement to respond to encounters with those experiencing  mental health crisis. The goal of this legislation is to set up a rudimentary, flexible, community- based framework utilizing the existing mental health service delivery infrastructure including community service boards without mandating or imposing top-down, “one-size fits all” cookie cutter approaches to a mental health situation. I will report on the status of that committee hearing next week.

Three bills in which I am co-sponsoring passed out of heir respective committees this past week. The first two bills, Senate Bill 431 and 342, passed the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.

The third bill, S.B. 334 deals with the continuation of care in post-partum medical problems.

S.B. 341 would provide guidelines for the prior authorization of a prescribed medication for chronic conditions requiring ongoing medication therapy. The bill would allow for certain medicines to be prescribed for up to a year in cases of a patient facing chronic symptoms.

S.B 342 would provide for annual reporting regarding mental health parity in health care plans and require an insurer to post current, accurate data on treatment limitations, including nonquantitative treatment limitations, on the insurer’s public website.

The third bill, S.B. 334, one of my top priorities, passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. The bill would require insurance and Medicaid to fund post-partum care from six months and extend it a full year. Georgia has a problem with many mothers suffering complications from delivery of their babies. In many cases they should be under the care of their physician for a longer period of time. Governor Brian Kemp had his floor leaders introduce legislation to establish a Parents’ Bill of Rights to increase transparency in education by ensuring school districts have procedures in place for parental participation in schools. The bill will codify into law parental rights regarding their child’s education, including the right to access instructional material. The bills affirm a parent’s ability to request information from a principal or superintendent, requiring that the information be provided to the parent within three working days.

f the principal or superintendent is unable to share the information within that timeframe, they must provide the parent with a description of the material and a timeline for its delivery, not to exceed 30 days.

Thank you for your interest in the General Assembly session. Feel free to visit me at the Capitol or to reach out to me by phone or email. I am in 325-A Coverdell Legislative Office Building. My office phone number is (404) 656-7880 and my email is

I look forward to continuing to serve you.

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