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Senate tackles real estate, tax, adoption bills
Ben Watson
Sen. Ben Watson

Many bills regarding a wide variety of issues were deliberated this week, including one that I sponsored, SB 397, which would allow municipalities to hire state licensed real estate brokers to assist in real estate property sales.

I’ve worked closely with the city of Savannah on this legislation since currently cities must sell property through an auction or by sealed bid, generally resulting in low bids that the city must reject and hindering the process.

SB 397 gives a city another option for selling its property, which will be beneficial for historic cities such as ours where historic buildings are often difficult to sell. I was pleased that the bill passed unanimously.

Gov. Nathan Deal presented a tax cut plan with two pieces of legislation, HB 821 and HB 918. He said he felt the need to address this issue because some states may experience a windfall from the federal tax cuts and keep part of taxpayers’ refunds as state taxes.

Deal’s plan cuts Georgia income tax rates and raises the standard deduction. These legislative initiatives could potentially cut Georgia taxes by roughly $5 billion dollars over a period of two years.

Regarding adoptions, faith and families, the Senate passed SB 375, which would allow child placement agencies to make referrals for adoption or foster care services based on the child-placing agency’s religious beliefs. If a child-placing agency declines to accept a referral from the Department of Human Services, then the referral will immediately be sent to another agency.

Last year, there were more than 13,000 children in Georgia’s foster care system, and I believe that this bill opens one more door for foster children to be placed in forever families. In addition, this bill preserves Georgia’s enduring partnership with faith-based adoption and foster care agencies allowing them to operate within their values and with families who share those same values.

The Senate unanimously passed SB 364, which would increase doctor sponsorships of anesthesia assistants from four to eight. The legislation requires that these healthcare professionals complete a board approved anesthesiology assistant program.

Laying the groundwork for expanding broadband access to rural Georgia, SB 402 was passed, which promotes public-private partnerships to create plans for broadband expansion. To achieve this, existing Department of Transportation right-of-ways would be used to lay the fiber network. Broadband access in rural areas would increase educational, healthcare and economic advantages. 

As we continue this legislative session your input is important to me. I encourage you to contact me with your concerns and questions at or at 404-656-7880. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve you.

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