Heath: Week Four Leg­isla­tive Up­date

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By State Sen. Bill Heath R – Bre­men

In our fourth week, com­mit­tee meet­ings con­tin­ued and bill hear­ings be­gan on the Se­nate floor. I am proud to say that things are off to a great start as my bill, Se­nate Bill 25, was the first to be heard and adopted on the Se­nate Floor this ses­sion. I com­mend my col­leagues for their quick, unan­i­mous and bi-par­ti­san sup­port on this crit­i­cal mea­sure.

SB 25 ad­dresses lan­guage confusion in last ses­sion’s House Bill 978 which al­lowed for drivers to pass a stopped school bus on a road or high­way di­vided by only a turn lane. Not only has this vague­ness caused un­cer­tainty for drivers and law en­force­ment, but it has also put our school­child­ren at risk. The bill states that the pres­ence of a bar­rier a car can­not travel across – a grass me­dian, un­paved area or phys­i­cal bar­rier – is the only law­ful con­di­tion when a ve­hi­cle can pass a stopped school bus on the other side of the road.

Now that SB 25 has passed through the Se­nate, it must be ap­proved by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and then by the Gover­nor. I have in­cluded lan­guage in Sec­tion 3 that will al­low the bill to be im­ple­mented as soon as it is signed by Gover­nor Brian P. Kemp, putting the changes into im­me­di­ate ef­fect so that school­child­ren will be fully pro­tected as quickly as pos­si­ble. I will con­tinue to cham­pion this bill as it moves through the leg­isla­tive process and if you have any ques­tions or con­cerns please do not hes­i­tate to reach out to me.

Also this week, the Agri­cul­ture and Con­sumer Af­fairs Com­mit­tee con­vened. I opened our meet­ing with a de­vo­tional, pray­ing for the safety and well-be­ing of the men and women who work hard every day to pro­duce Ge­or­gia’s food and sus­tain our state. We heard from Agri­cul­ture Com­mis­sioner Gary Black, who gave a pre­sen­ta­tion on the se­vere dam­age done to southwest Ge­or­gia as a re­sult of Hur­ri­cane Michael. Ad­di­tion­ally, Ge­or­gia Forestry Com­mis­sion Di­rec­tor Chuck Wil­liams em­pha­sized the great losses to Ge­or­gia’s timer as­sets as a re­sult of this nat­u­ral dis­as­ter.

What touched me most, how­ever, was the tes­ti­mony of lo­cal farm­ers who lost not only their crops but also their liveli­hoods in the storm. These farm­ers’ prop­er­ties were cen­turies old, passed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, gen­er­at­ing crops val­ued in the mil­lions of dol­lars. How­ever, these farm­ers were not mil­lion­aires. They were mid­dle class Ge­or­gians whose in­come de­pended on trees that take decades to grow or farms that take gen­er­a­tions to fine tune. The dam­age caused by Hur­ri­cane Michael was colos­sal. The cost of re­build­ing a life, a com­pany and a farm from the ground up is im­mea­sur­able and I will work this ses­sion in my role on the Agri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee to en­sure that south Ge­or­gians are given all of the help that they need to ef­fec­tively re­cover from this tragedy.

Lastly, we have set our cal­en­dar for the 2019 ses­sion through Sine Die. The date for Cross­over Day has been set for March 7, 2019, and Sine Die will be on April 2, 2019. Our cal­en­dar is packed with five-day work weeks and the days we are not in ses­sion will be for com­mit­tee work. As we move through the ses­sion, do not hes­i­tate to con­tact me with any ques­tions or con­cerns. I am hon­ored to con­tinue to rep­re­sent the 31st Se­nate Dis­trict.

Sen. Bill Heath serves as Chair­man of the Govern­ment Over­sight Com­mit­tee. He rep­re­sents the 31st Se­nate Dis­trict which con­sists of Har­al­son and Polk coun­ties and por­tions of Pauld­ing County. He may be reached at 404-656-3943 or by email at bill­[email protected]­heath.net

Bill Heath

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