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Sen. Ben Watson's update from the State Capitol (week of Feb. 25)
Ben Watson
Sen. Ben Watson

The General Assembly has only two legislative days before Crossover Day, when bills passed by the Senate are sent to the House for consideration and bills passed by the House are sent to the Senate. The bills are said to “crossover” to the other legislative body for consideration. This past week was a productive one with many long hours spent in committee meetings working out the details of legislation, with 28 bills passing the Senate.

I was pleased that “Margie’s Law”, HB 62, passed unanimously. As I’ve mentioned in past reports, this bill will require healthcare facilities that conduct mammograms to notify the patient when their results show dense breast tissue and include information regarding next steps and the reason for notification. This bill was advocated by Savannahian Margie Singleton and her “army” of supporters and it was my privilege to carry this bill in the Senate.

Another bill that I sponsored, SB 71, will clarify hospital authority trusts’ use of funds. This bill will allow hospital authority trusts that do not run a medical facility to utilize existing funds towards both inpatient and outpatient services for the indigent. This bill clarifies that the use of a hospital authority’s funds must go toward its original purpose and would allow trusts with more than $20 million to invest 30 percent into mutual or investment funds. I am pleased with the passage of this bill, which will help Georgians in need get necessary health care.

Early in the week, the Senate addressed expanding broadband access throughout Georgia, an issue that has been worked on for more than three years and is vital to our state. Senate Bill 66, “Streamlining Wireless Facilities and Antennas Act”, will address the use of public rights of way by wireless providers. Under SB 66, the application process for 5G companies to collocate antennas on existing or new poles would be streamlined and standardized. Related to this issue, SB 17 has already passed the Senate and will expand broadband across Georgia by increasing access to reliable internet services. Broadband access is important for education, healthcare and economic growth and I hope these bills become law this legislative session.

The safety of our children and school administration is an important priority and we addressed this issue with the passage of SB 15, the “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act.” This bill creates provisions for a site threat assessment to be completed every four years by Georgia’s public schools using a third-party agency. The bill also outlines ways communication can be improved between schools, law enforcement and state safety departments. Our students and educators must be safe in our schools and this is good legislation that will add another layer of protection.

Please know that your input is valuable to me as the legislative session continues. I encourage you to contact me at or at 404-656-7880 and am deeply grateful for the privilege of serving you!

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