Bill Heath

Senator Bill Heath

The pace of session is slowly picking up. In the third week of this year’s legislative business, the Senate passed 2 bills with little opposition while consuming another 4 legislative days. The 2016 legislative session is now 30% complete.

On Tuesday Jan. 26, we celebrated National Guard Day with U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson and a delegation from the National Guard led by Adjutant General Joe Jarrard. It was a powerful day for us as we witnessed first-hand a recent high school graduate give the Oath of Enlistment to join the United States Army. I would like to thank the Georgia Armed Services for their continued excellence and dedicated service to our great state.

On Wednesday Jan. 27, Legislative Day 11, Senate Bill 137 passed the Senate floor unanimously.

Senate Bill 137 expands Georgia insurance law to allow companies to collect property insurance payouts in full for residential, single, or dual family units in case of total loss by fire. Current law excluded this small section of the residential market.

On Thursday, by a vote of 50 to 1, the Senate passed Senate Bill 263. The bill gives cities and counties the ability to award a police officer’s service weapon upon his or her retirement or if they become disabled in the line of duty.. SB 263 outlines which local agencies must approve of the policy before it can become procedure. Awarding the service weapon to retirees is something the state currently does with its officers, and the bill would align agencies that chose to do so with state level policy.

As the vote counts would indicate, both bills SB 137 and SB 263 are small corrections to Georgia law that do no harm to citizens or businesses in our state.

This week was also included the annual “State of the Judiciary” address from Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Hugh Thompson. In his speech, Chief Justice Thompson spoke of the need for the Georgia court system to utilize new technological advances and encourage litigants to pursue arbitration and negotiation in place of lengthy court battles. It is important for us lawmakers to help the court system streamline the legal process which will in turn save our taxpayers millions of dollars in both time and costs.

With 30 percent of the legislative session complete, there are only 18 legislative days until legislative day 30 called “Crossover Day”, which is the last day for bills passed in either the House or Senate and cross over for approval in the other chamber. The committee workload will continue to increase to fine-tune Senate bills bound for the House. Additionally, Senate Appropriations subcommittees will meet next week to analyze the amended budget for our current fiscal year.