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Sen. Ben Watson's update from the State Capitol (week of Feb. 18)
Richmond Hill High School students serve as Senate pages
Ben Watson pages.jpg
Sen. Ben Watson, left, with this session's Senate pages, from Richmond Hill High School: Ethan Falls, Joshua Gregory, Elle Jacobsson, David Krupp, and Everett Wayman. Photo provided.

This week marks the halfway point of the 2019 session and several bills passed the Senate. Fulfilling our constitutionally required duty, we passed the Amended Fiscal Year 2019 Budget, which is now on the governor’s desk for his approval.

I was pleased to welcome five students from Richmond Hill High School who served as pages in the Senate and represented their community well. Ethan Falls, Joshua Gregory, Elle Jacobsson, David Krupp, and Everett Wayman had a unique opportunity to see our state government at work and gained new insight into our legislative process. For information about the Senate page program, please go to

Savannahian Margie Singleton brought House Bill 62 to the attention of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, on which I serve as Chairman. This legislation would require a healthcare facility conducting mammograms to notify a patient if their mammogram demonstrates dense breast tissue. Margie has been an advocate for this law since being diagnosed with breast cancer six months after receiving a clean mammogram. This bill could save the lives of thousands of Georgians by increasing the chance of early detection of breast cancer. If a woman is taking all proper preventative measures, like getting a mammogram, her care center should be voicing any results that may cloud a potential cancer diagnosis, like dense breast tissue. I’m glad there are citizens like Ms. Singleton, who are aware of positive changes we can make to help women see the warning signs of cancer.

Wednesday, Feb. 20 became Physician’s Day at the Capitol with SR 139, a resolution I sponsored to salute the positive and lasting impact physicians have on their communities. Georgia has more than 19,000 licensed physicians who provide health care services to citizens and grow the economies of communities all over the state. The Georgia legislature has helped foster one of the strongest practice environments in the country for both patients and physicians.

I was pleased that legislation known as “C.J.’s Law,” SB 1, overwhelmingly passed the Senate and would provide a felony penalty for drivers involved in a hit-and-run accident that causes serious bodily harm. The felony charge would constitute imprisonment for a minimum of one year and maximum of 10 years.

We have many hunters in our community and across the state. Senate Bill 72 passed and would remove the requirement to have a license for hunting in Wildlife Management Areas. Additionally, SB 72 would allow the use of air guns and air bows for hunting big game during certain hunting seasons and remove the prohibition against the use of silencers and suppressors. The bill also removes the prohibition against baiting feral hogs within 50 yards of the property line, if it does not prevent hunting on an adjoining property. This bill would allow the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to modify hunting seasons and bag limits on deer, raccoons, opossums and bears.

We will continue to address issues that affect our community during this legislative session and your input is valuable to me. I encourage you to contact me at or at 404-656-7880 with your questions and concerns. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve you!

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