Week 5 of 2012 Session
On Monday, I was pleased to welcome a local pastor and longtime friend, Reverend Tony Samples, to the floor of the Senate to deliver our daily devotion. Many of you know Reverend Samples who became the founding pastor at Pickett’s Mill Baptist Church in Dallas, GA, the same church he pastors today. Tony reminded us to lay everything in front of the Lord because He is the one in control. It is a great source of pride and comfort for me when I can share a touch of home with members from across our state. Tony and I knew each other long before I was privileged to work for the citizens of Georgia. He is a close friend and strong man of faith whose message will not be easily forgotten by any of us in the Senate.
On Wednesday, I had the special opportunity to honor one of my own constituents, Sgt. Danny Crook of Buchanan, for his commitment to serve and protect the citizens of the State of Georgia through his more than three decades of service at the Department of Natural Resources. He has received numerous awards and has been known for his devotion to youth in his community. My fellow senators and I honored Danny with a formal Senate Resolution, SR 764, which will be recorded in the Senate Journal.
After honoring Sgt. Danny Crook, I entered the well to introduce and debate a bill which I firmly believe stands for good, efficient government. This bill, SB 343, transitions the office of the Comptroller General to the State Accounting Office; the bill passed with a vote of 47-4 on the Senate floor. Currently, the title of Comptroller General is reserved for the Commissioner of Insurance. This bill, however, will ultimately align the functions and responsibilities with the entity that is already performing most of the work- the State Accounting Office. Governor Nathan Deal personally asked me to carry this bill, and I was pleased to see such overwhelming bipartisan support. Sometimes even my colleagues across the aisle have a hard time arguing with good policy.
Two bills promoting government efficiency also passed in the Senate this week. The first bill, SB 351, brings conformity and clarity to the training standards of municipal court judges in Georgia and passed with a 48-0 vote. The second bill, SB 357, passed with a 51-0 vote and repeals several pages of unnecessary and outdated regulations in the Georgia Code of Law regarding the sale of treated timber. In fact, this particular bill eliminates nearly seven pages of the Georgia Code.
Two other bills passed by the Senate this week included one that prohibits using a dentist’s or physician’s participation in any public or private health insurance plan as a condition of granting a state license to practice medicine. This bill, SB 337, passed with a 49-5 vote. The other bill, HB 675, eases restrictions on educational requirements for licensure as an RN or LPN in order to allow graduates of nontraditional nursing programs outside of Georgia to practice in our state. Military personnel who have received on-the-job medical training will particularly benefit from this bill which passed 53-0.
The Senate also took up an important resolution that strongly urges Congress to allow states to administer their own H-2A guest worker programs under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. The resolution, SR 715, passed 53 to 0 and was supported by both parties from the well.
As the work of the State Legislature continues, I remain dedicated to creating and passing legislation that stands for government efficiency, a lessened tax burden on our citizens, and a more fiscally responsible government. If you have any ideas of how we can build these issues into the fabric of our state, please do not hesitate to contact me.