Day 15 (Feb. 3) — After a short weekend, we were back in session with three bills on the calendar, including Senate Bill 296, a bill that sets the acreage limit of developable land on Jekyll Island. This bill is the result of many hours of work by the Jekyll Island Authority members and other interested parties and is a great compromise that ensures this coastal gem will continue to be a treasure for many years to come.
It is especially nice that the bill was voted on Feb. 3, since leaders from Glynn County were at the Capitol, including Mike Hodges, who serves on the authority and was in the Senate gallery to witness the unanimous vote.
The other two bills we passed were SB 291, creating the Georgia Adult and Aging Services Agency and Board, and SB 292, establishing the Alzheimer’s disease Registry. We also had the second reading on SB 334, a bill I introduced that would prohibit any state departments from helping to enforce any of the provisions of Obamacare. I am proud to sponsor this legislation in the Senate and look forward to presenting it in committee soon.
It also was good to welcome realtors from the district who were visiting. That included some from Chatham County, who I spoke with before a meeting with Leadership Liberty members who also were visiting. The only committee meeting that we had afternoon was Health and Human Services, where we passed out House Bill 511, a bill that creates a pilot program to provide coverage for bariatric surgical procedures for the treatment and management of obesity.
Day 16 (Feb. 4): This day was special as we celebrated Firefighters Appreciation Day. I was humbled last year to be named legislator of the year by this group of great Georgians, and I was honored Feb. 4 to sponsor a resolution recognizing them. It was especially good to see firefighters from Savannah, as well as new Bryan County Fire Chief Freddy Howell, on Feb. 4 at the Capitol.
It was a busy day during session, as we had five bills on the calendar, including Senate Resolution 736, which calls for a convention of the states for the purpose of proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution requiring a balancing of the budget and limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.
We also passed SB 273, a bill creating the Maternal Mortality Review Committee to review maternal deaths in Georgia and develop strategies for the prevention of these deaths. Shockingly, to me, Georgia leads the nation in the number of maternal deaths, defined as mothers dying at childbirth or within one year of childbirth.
Most of the discussion Feb. 4 involved SB 283, which allows students to be educated about the history of traditional winter celebrations and to offer traditional greetings such as Merry Christmas. While this may seem silly to some, there have been situations in our state where using these greetings and displaying traditional Christmas scenes or symbols has been disallowed.
The afternoon was filled with committee meetings and visits with folks from Camden and Liberty counties.
Day 17 (Feb. 5) — We began the day with an Appropriations meeting, where we passed out the fiscal year 2014 amended budget. This was the culmination of much work during the past few weeks by members of the committee and now will go to the Rules Committee to be put on the calendar for a full vote by the Senate.
After a caucus meeting, we recognized in session a few groups before walking over to the House chambers for a joint session to hear the State of the Judiciary address delivered by Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Hugh Thompson. He delivered an update of the state’s judicial system, which he described as strong and sound, but warned that too many Georgians don’t get the legal assistance they need. In his speech, he estimated that less than 10 percent of low-income Georgians get the legal counsel that they need — a real concern for our state.
Write to Carter at 421-B State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334; call him at 404-656-5109; find him on Facebook at facebook.com/buddycarterga; or follow him on Twitter @Buddy_Carter.
Carter, R- Pooler, reports each week during the legislative session. The session is expected to last until March 1.