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Update from the Capitol - 3/19/18

Senator Tyler Harper

By: Sen. Tyler Harper (R - Ocilla)

We are only five legislative days away from Sine Die and time is running out for the General Assembly to pass and debate legislation. This week, the Senate met for three days and passed 22 bills and resolutions addressing issues ranging from health care to public safety.


On Wednesday, the General Assembly hosted one of the days I look forward to most each year: Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. I was proud to stand by Sen. John Albers, Chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee, as we recognized and introduced the heads of numerous public safety departments. All of the men and women in blue, who are prepared to sacrifice everything for the safety of others, should serve as an inspiration for everyone in our state. We are always happy to welcome all who serve our state and days like this serve as a reminder to never forget to support our law enforcement community.

Keeping with the theme of public safety, we passed HB 751 which would create the Georgia Emergency Communications Authority.  This new Authority would fall within the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency and would streamline the process of distributing fees for 9-1-1 centers. Communication is key to public safety efforts and this bill will continue to help make sure that we have the needed communication services in place to address public safety issues as they arise.

Rural health care has been a focus of ours for years now and on Thursday we took another step toward increasing access to rural healthcare and supplying rural health providers with the support they need to treat their patients. HB 769 would create a new Rural Health System Innovation Center, as well as grant programs to make it more appealing for physicians to practice in rural parts of our state. In addition, it would increase the current tax credit available when donating to rural hospitals. While this bill alone will not fix the issue overnight, it removes many of the hurdles that currently prevent our rural hospitals from thriving.

We also passed legislation to help those in our state with special needs find meaningful employment opportunities. It’s not every day that the legislature passes a bill that would have such a direct positive impact on citizens of our state. HB 831 calls for the creation of the Employment First Georgia Council which will be responsible for outlining competitive integrated employment policy to ensure that those with disabilities have the same ability to find employment as everybody else. So much of our enjoyment and purpose in life comes from our vocation. This bill would allow everyone, regardless of disability, the ability to find that enjoyment and purpose through whatever work field they choose.

House Bill 885 also passed the Senate, which would amend the Georgia Air Quality Act by limiting state regulatory powers relating to the controlled burning of agricultural tracts or parcels of land greater than five acres for agricultural operations. This would apply so long as the burning is consistent with federal regu­lations and limited to vegetative material. This legislation continues our efforts in supporting our state’s number one industry.  Each morning before we begin our work in the Senate we are privileged to have a Chaplain of the Day who is tasked with delivering a devotion and leading our chamber in prayer. This week I was honored to have Pastor William Pope from my home church, Satilla Baptist Church, as the Senate Chaplain of the Day. It was a pleasure to introduce him to my Senate colleagues and allow him to bring a message of inspiration as we began our work for the day. This week it was also a privilege to host Leadership Waycross during their annual trip to the Capitol. It’s always great to visit with the leaders of the communities I am privileged to serve and show them around the Capitol.     

With only two weeks left, the countdown has begun and your legislators will spend the remaining time busy at work addressing issues that are most vital to our state. If you ever have any questions, comments or concerns please feel free to reach out to my office. Since our time remaining is limited, I encourage you to reach out to me as soon as possible to have your voice heard.