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Update from the Capitol - 2/26/18

Senator Tyler Harper

By: Sen. Tyler Harper (R - Ocilla)

We had a long week here under the Gold Dome. We passed a total of 19 bills in the Senate Chamber and spent countless hours in our respective committees as we worked down to the wire to vet and prepare legislation for our Crossover Day deadline. Crossover Day falls on the 28th legislative day and is the final day of the session that Senate bills can pass the Senate with enough time to be heard in the House and, therefore, be eligible to receive the governor’s signature and become law.


Agriculture plays such an important role in our part of the state. We all know that the state’s economy depends, in part, on the efforts of the hard working farmers and agriculture professionals in our district. However, many in our state are unfamiliar with the way the agriculture industry works and have become disconnected from what happens to their food between the farm and their table. SB 330 would address this by creating an agriculture educational pilot program for our state’s education curriculum for elementary schools to establish hands-on, real world learning opportunities. This effort builds on the success of our six through 12 agriculture education programs continuing to provide more opportunities for students across the state to learn about our agricultural industry. 

We also passed Senate Bill 402, otherwise known as the Achieving Connectivity Everywhere (ACE) Act. This bill contains a number of provisions all geared towards expanding broadband internet access across our state, particularly in rural areas. Specifically, SB 402 calls for the Georgia Department of Transportation to outline policies on how we can use infrastructure (such as state roads and highways) to spread broadband throughout Georgia. The bill also offers tax exemptions and grant programs specific to rural Georgia to further help businesses and individuals connect to this much needed resource. I am eager to see this bill passed so that those in areas such as ours can have reliable, consistent high-speed internet access. As many of you know, I served on a Joint Study Committee after the 2016 session to study broadband coverage throughout rural Georgia. This is just one bill out of several that we plan to introduce and pass to further broadband access throughout the state.

We were honored this week to have several distinguished groups visit us at the Capitol. We celebrated our annual FFA Day at the Capitol which is always a pleasure. Many of the FFA representatives we hosted call our district home and it was an honor to be able to recognize them here at the Capitol. We also celebrated University of Georgia Day in the Senate where we were privileged to hear from UGA President Jere Morehead. As a UGA alumni, this day is always an exciting one for me, as well as for the other Dawgs here at the Capitol. Finally, I want to mention that we recognized Fraternal Order of Police Day this week. I had the great honor of being able to address this distinguished group of individuals and as the immediate past Chairman of the Public Safety Committee the sacrifices of our brave men and women in blue are especially meaningful to me and I always consider it a privilege to speak with them.

On Friday, I was privileged to sponsor a resolution commending the YMCA of Georgia, particularly, the YMCA’s Youth Assembly. The YMCA Youth Assembly simulates what we do in the General Assembly, and allows participants to learn more about the political process and how their state government functions.

I also want to thank groups from the district for stopping by to visit us this week. Leadership Pierce, as well as officials from the City of Waycross, among others stopped by the Capitol to visit and it was a great opportunity to spend time to discuss issues impacting our part of the state. It’s always great to see folks from home and I encourage everyone who is interested in stopping by to do so while we’re in session and I will be happy to make sure you have the opportunity to get recognized by the Senate body.

Our days are continuing to get longer and more full of substantive debate on legislation and will only continue to get busier leading up to Crossover Day and, eventually, Sine Die. If there’s anything I can ever do for you or if I can ever address any questions, comments or concerns that you may have, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office. I am here to serve you.