Week 10 update from the Capitol
During our tenth week (last week) under the Gold Dome, we were as busy as we have been all year. We met three days for session and passed 22 pieces of legislation. In addition to our work on the Senate floor, we held committee meetings throughout the week.
One of the most important pieces of legislation we passed last week was House Bill 769, which creates the Rural Health System Innovation Center. The innovation center will act as the research arm for advancing the state’s rural healthcare agenda and directs the Department of Community Health to streamline and expedite all credentialing and billing processes for state medical plans. In addition, HB 769 authorizes a grant program to incentivize physicians to practice in rural areas, increases a tax credit for rural hospital donations and simplifies the remote order entry process for pharmacists. These are just a few of the many recommendations made by a House study committee that met over the interim to evaluate ways to improve access to healthcare across Georgia. Passing this bill is certainly a step in the right direction.
Two other pieces of legislation from last week relate to license plates, and while this may not immediately peak your interest, the sales will go toward good causes. House Bill 695 creates a new promotional license plate that will read “#1 in Forestry” to advertise Georgia’s national ranking for forestry. The tag will cost $25.00 and $20.00 of the license plate sales will go directly to the Georgia Forestry Foundation to fund its education initiatives, projects and goals. Additionally, under HB 695, a specialty license plate would also be created to support the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia, Inc.
House Bill 784 does the same thing, but all proceeds will go to the Wildlife Resources Division of the Department of Natural Resources for the purposes of waterfowl habitat restoration, research and promoting management programs.
House Bill 885 also passed the Senate last week. The bill would amend the Georgia Air Quality Act to limit local government’s regulatory powers relating to controlled burning of vegetative tracts or land parcels greater than five acres being used for agricultural operations. So long as the burning is done in a manner consistent with federal law and is limited to vegetative material, local government cannot enforce unnecessary restrictions on such acts.
A piece of legislation I sponsored last week was Senate Resolution 966, which honors our friend and former Senate colleague Jack Murphy. Jack served Forsyth County in the Georgia General Assembly for 12 years and he is a true public servant. It is an honor to call him not only a former colleague, but a true friend who committed his life to civil service.
Last week may have been busy, but with only five legislative days remaining (as of Monday), this week and next week will include some very long days. There is much more legislation to be heard before Sine Die, and I am committed to serving the men and women of the 53rd District in the best way I can. As always, please never hesitate to get in touch if I can help you in any way or if you have input regarding legislation facing the Senate.
Sen. Jeff Mullis is chairman of the Rules Committee. He represents the 53rd Senate District, which includes Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties and portions of Chattooga County. He can be reached at his office in Atlanta at 404-656-0057 or by email at jeff.mullis@senate. ga.gov.