State Sen. Bill Heath and Dr. J. Robert White

Sen. Bill Heath (R – Bremen) introduced Dr. J. Robert White to serve as Chaplain of the Day in the State Senate on February 2, 2016.

State Rep. Trey Kelley (16th District) and State Sen. Bill Heath (37th District) provide the following columns on a weekly basis for media outlets. We have elected to publish them weekly through the legislative session as part of the Standard Journal’s coverage of state house issues. - KM 

It was another four-day workweek in the Senate.

We convened Monday through Thursday during the first week of February for legislative days 12 through 16, respectively, which means the 2016 legislative session is now 40 percent complete.

In that time, the Senate passed 6 bills. Brief descriptions of each bill are included below.

This week, I had the opportunity to host two outstanding Georgians to the Senate Chamber. On Tuesday, it was my honor to introduce Dr. J. Robert White as our Chaplain of the Day. Dr. White has served as Executive Director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board since 1993.

Not only did he give a great morning devotion grounded in Scripture, but Dr. White encouraged the Senate to pray that God give us a clean, pure heart to do the will of the Lord.

On Thursday, the Senate recognized the immense service of James Casey. Mr. Casey has presided over the Polk County Farm Bureau for 50 years.

Since being elected to this position in 1965, the Polk County Farm Bureau has grown to more than 1,800 members. To commemorate his good work, the Senate adopted SR 733, which reads in part, “It is abundantly fitting and proper that the outstanding accomplishments of this remarkable and distinguished Georgian be appropriately recognized.”

Next week, the Senate will continue the pattern of a Monday through Thursday legislative workweek taking the session through legislative day 20. Before session begins on Monday, the Senate Appropriations Committee will meet to discuss the Senate’s position on the Fiscal Year 2016 Amended Budget.

As the Senate nears Crossover Day on Legislative Day 30, you can expect more Senate Bills to be debated on the Senate floor so that they can be passed over to the House for their consideration.

As always, it is an honor to serve Georgia’s 31st Senate District. If you ever have questions about any legislation, the budget or the legislative process, feel free to contact me with any comments or concerns at

Senate Bill 279

SB 279 adds the Commissioner of Juvenile Justice and the Commissioner of Natural Resources—or their respective designees—to the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.

Senate Bill 193

It increases the potential sentence for a defendant charged with family violence battery if that person has previously been convicted of a forcible felony against a household member.

Senate Bill 243

SB 243 allows Legislative Counsel—the office of lawyers that draft the language of Georgia’s official code—to opt into the state’s judicial retirement system.

Senate Bill 199

SB 199 clarifies the definition of campaign material that is not allowed to be within 150 of a polling location, inside a polling location or within 25 feet of someone standing in line to vote.

Senate Bill 273

This bill removes state licensing regulations from nondiagnostic clinical laboratories. These labs, however, are still subject to federal regulations.

Senate Bill 230

The “Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act” expands Georgia’s Good Samaritan laws to include licensed health workers who are volunteering their services during a state of emergency.