By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Sen. Ben Watson: Time for a monument to honor Thomas
Ben Watson
Sen. Ben Watson

Sen. Ben Watson, Guest columnist

The Georgia Senate was very busy this week mostly working in individual committees. We only have 20 legislative days left to complete our business, and the “Crossover Day” deadline is rapidly approaching.

Crossover day is the last day a bill can reach the other legislative body (House of Representatives or Senate) and be considered during this legislative session.

The Senate passed Senate Bill 69, legislation I introduced. This legislation would provide for placement of a monument for the U.S. Supreme Court Justice, the Honorable Clarence Thomas, within the capitol building or the capitol grounds.

Funding for the monument would be collected from gifts or donations given by private individuals, organizations, and foundations.

I live about two miles from his home and know his family well. Justice Thomas has shown perseverance throughout his life including growing up without a father at home and facing the tragedy of his home burning down. He moved to Savannah from Pinpoint at a young age, graduating from Catholic school here, then going to seminary for a year. He graduated summa cum laude from Holy Cross and graduated from Yale law school.

Justice Clarence Thomas should be an inspiration for us all. He is the fourth United States Supreme Court Justice from the State of Georgia and the second African- American to serve on our nation’s highest court.

Over the past weeks we have passed several other bills of importance, as well.

We repealed the ability of any local governments, businesses, or organizations in Georgia to require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations. S.B. 1 passed by a vote of 31 to 21. We also passed legislation that amends the qualifications for Georgia Sheriffs by requiring candidates running for the Office of Sheriff to be in “good standing” with the Georgia Peace Officer Standards Training Council at the time of qualifying to run in an election. SB 37 passed with a vote of 45 to 5.

In what has proved to be a remnant of the COVID days, legislation passed permitting teleconferences for local government meetings.

Senate Bill 26 would allow hearings and permit meetings to be held virtually for development authorities, Community Improvement Districts (CIDs), and workforce development boards.

SB 26 unanimously passed by a vote of 52 to 0.

One piece of legislation I have been trying to change is the archaic certificate of need requirement for all health care facilities except certain long-term care facilities and services. This essentially creates a monopolistic feature to the owner of certain pieces of expensive medical equipment, usually a hospital, to not allow any other business to set up a similar piece of equipment without the permission of the first entity to do so. I have introduced legislation to repeal Georgia’s certificate of need law through the introduction of Senate Bill 162. The premise behind the legislation is that economic competition is the best way to ensure quality for the consumer and affordability of health care in this state. As we progress through the session, I will keep you updated on legislation.

Thank you for your continued interest in the General Assembly session. As your public servant, 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 ben.watson@senate. I look forward to continuing to serve you.

Sign up for our E-Newsletters