After hearings on the amended 2019 budget, we are now voting on bills coming out of committee.
Hurricane Michael disaster relief funding
As senators start to introduce legislation, the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee discussed the lasting effects of Hurricane Michael and heard moving testimonies from organizations and those impacted.
I would like to thank Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black, Director of the Georgia Forestry Commission Chuck Williams and local farmers affected by the disaster for joining us at last week’s Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee meeting. Hurricane Michael recovery is an ongoing commitment and it will take time to restore what was damaged. Their presentations resonated with us and your concerns and suggestions are a priority.
During the November 2018 Special Session, the Georgia Department of Agriculture announced that funding for farmers would be available for distribution through the Georgia Development Authority. Commissioner Black updated us this week on how funding is being implemented. We look forward to continued work with organizations and agencies that are helping people restore their livelihoods and keeping agriculture a top industry in Georgia.
School bus law
Last week in the Senate, we voted to pass Senate Bill 25 unanimously. The goal of SB 25 is to address language in last session’s House Bill 978 which allows vehicles to pass a school bus when there is separation of traffic by a single turn lane. SB 25 clarifies the language and states that drivers may pass a school bus only if there is a grass median, unpaved area or barrier separating the lanes of opposite traffic. I was happy to see it was passed unanimously in the House, and signed by Governor Kemp on Friday.
Expedited medical licensing
This week we passed two important bills unanimously. Senate Bill 16 would make Georgia part of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which would allow doctors coming to Georgia from a Compact participating state to go through an expedited licensure process. SB 6 would make it a criminal offense to use an unmanned aircraft system, or drone, to transport contraband over the airspace of a state jail or prison and to photograph or record images of inmates without permission.
On Tuesday I sponsored Senate Resolution 58 which declared February 12, 2019, as Georgia Farm Bureau Federation Day at the Capitol. The GFB provides much needed resources regarding insurance, advocacy and banking to farmers. I am proud to shine a light on such an effective organization that benefits the lives of many Georgians.
About the author: Sen. John Wilkinson serves as Chairman of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee and also as Caucus Secretary to the Majority Party. He represents the 50th Senate District which includes Banks, Franklin, Habersham, Rabun, Stephens and Towns counties and portions of Hall and Jackson counties. He can be reached by phone at 404.463.5257 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org