Medical cannabis, cyber security gains; adoption and flat tax losses
On Thursday, March 30, the House and Senate completed legislative day 40, the final day of the 2017 session, also known as “sine die,” which is a Latin term meaning “without assigning a day for further meeting.” As we convened for the final two days of the session, we worked late into the night both days to ensure that important legislation had every opportunity to be considered this year.
While we passed several bills , one piece of legislation which people had a great interest in received overwhelming support. That was the House and Senate’s compromise bill on medical cannabis that would help Georgians who are suffering from a number of different medical conditions. Senate Bill 16 would expand Georgia’s medical cannabis oil program by adding six illnesses to the list of qualifying conditions to allow those patients to legally possess a maximum of 20 fluid ounces of cannabis oil with a maximum of 5 percent THC. SB 16 would also allow reciprocity of registration cards issued by other states if the oil meets Georgia’s legal standards and the individual has not been in the state for more than 45 days. Additionally, SB 16 would remove the requirement that individuals must reside in Georgia for at least a year. This program now allows even more hurting Georgians to reap the benefits of our state’s popular and successful medical cannabis oil program.
Cyber security and women’s veterans
As Governor Deals Floor Leader, I carried a number of bills which all passed both the House and the Senate. One bill that I was particularly proud of was a bill which adopted a new Cyber Security policy for Georgia’s state agencies. With the growing threat of cyber attacks, it’s important that Georgia keep all our vital data as secure as possible.
This bill would give the Georgia Technology Authority the ability to set standards, and to make certain that those standards are maintained. It also allows us to purchase cyber insurance, helping protecting tax money from lawsuits should a breach occur. This legislation along with a new Cyber security facility to be built at Fort Gordon will put Georgia ahead of the curve in fighting this new type of security threat.
I also had the honor of carrying legislation which would establish a new women’s veterans division in the Georgia Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs. There are close to 100,000 women who are veterans in Georgia, and this division will provide a much needed resource, not just to women, but to all veterans who might deal with specific issues. This is just one more tool to help Georgia’s veterans receive the respect and supporting they deserve.
Adoption laws and taxes
Although we did pass some good legislation, there were also a number of disappointments. Two that did not make it across the finish line were extremely important to me.
Georgia adoption laws have not been updated in a number of years, and Rep. Bert Reeves bill to address this issue passed unanimously in the House, but failed to get a vote in the Senate. This was a hard blow to handle, as now a number of Georgia’s children will have a longer wait to gain a new family. Also, we had hoped to lower our state tax rate to 5.5%, taking more of a flat tax approach, but this also failed to win Senate approval.
I look forward to picking up the battle on these bills next year, and hopefully finding a positive ending.
Now that this year’s session is over, Governor Deal will begin reviewing the legislation that received final passage, and these measures will become state laws upon his signature. If the governor does not sign or veto a measure within 40 days, it automatically becomes law.
Since the 2017 legislative session has adjourned sine die, I’m looking forward to spending more time at home. I hope to see many of you around the district, and if you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I can be reached in Atlanta at 404-651-7737 or locally at 706-754-0706. If it’s easier, email me at Terry.Rogers@house.ga.gov.
As always, I’m honored and humbled to represent you, and I’d like to thank you for giving me that privilege!