Senate passes adoption bill, eases burden on medical examiners

With the completion of this week, we find ourselves a fourth of the way through the 2018 legislative session with several important bills being passed out of the Senate already. I’m looking forward to seeing what the remaining 30 days of session have in store and will keep you updated on the progress of the Senate.

Adoption bill

Last week, the Senate passed House Bill 159. This bill would update Georgia’s adoption codes, a process that hasn’t been done in nearly 30 years, and would make it easier for Georgia families to adopt. With more than 13,000 children in foster care, it’s important that we do everything we can to ensure these children find loving and permanent homes. I want to commend Lt. Governor Cagle for his tremendous support of this bill, while also ensuring that faith-based adoption agencies’ constitutional rights are upheld. I am confident that with hard work and your support, this bill will find itself on the Governor’s desk by day 40.

Ag appropriations and education spending

The second week of session began with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday. Joint Budget hearings began on Tuesday. Governor Deal presented his Amended FY 2018 and General FY 2019 budget proposals. As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, I was pleased with the Governor’s recommendations to provide additional funding to keep our state’s number one industry growing and to protect our beautiful state’s natural resources.  There is also additional funding for education.  As our student population increases, it is important to provide an adequate education for the young people growing up in a state that has been selected for five consecutive years as the best place in America to do business.

In addition to this, Governor Deal also highlighted the importance of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG). Industries across our state, whether agriculture, technology or healthcare based, all employ students from technical colleges. One of the reasons our state has once again been named the best state in which to do business is because of our educated and skilled workforce. I’m glad the Governor has recognized the TCSG and requested $95 million in bonds for new projects and repairs.

Garnishment and ME bills

This past week two bills were passed on the Senate floor. SB 194 clarifies and simplifies language for earnings subject to garnishment. The second bill, SB 327 removes the requirement that a medical examiner must investigate a death if the person was not under the care of a physician. This bill removes a burden from medical examiners; however, they can still investigate if they suspect foul play.

On the passing of former First Lady of Georgia Betty Vandiver

I would like to extend my condolences to the family of Former First Lady Betty Vandiver. It was an honor for me to make remarks in her memory on the Senate floor on January 18 and to lead the Senate in a moment of silence in her memory. She made many outstanding contributions to her community and state, and she will be missed.

As the legislative session continues, I look forward to working on your behalf. If I can be of any assistance, please feel free to reach out to my office at 404.463.5257 or by email at


About the author: Sen. John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa) serves as Chairman of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee and Vice Chairman of the Education and Youth Committee. 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

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