We got off to a busy start last week as February 29th was not only the first day of our 8th legislative week, but also a crucial day of the session known “Crossover Day.”
Crossover Day is the deadline for legislation to be passed out of its chamber of origin to remain eligible for consideration for the session. With the Crossover Day deadline looming my colleagues and I worked long into the night and passed 48 measures during almost 12 hours of deliberations on the floor. Crossover day was especially productive for me as I had two major pieces of legislation that I have been working on pass the House unanimously.
House Bill 1043 was a measure brought to my attention by one of our local hospitals, FloydMedical Center. HB 1043 removes restrictions from hospitals that have made it burdensome for them to administer flu vaccines at job site visits. The flu virus is a real threat and we as a state should adopt measures which make it easier for individuals to obtain vaccines to prevent the flu.
HB 1043 will certainly make our community healthier, by removing these burdensome regulations.
Many in our community have heard about the situation which took in Floyd County where abusiness requested a large refund request for sales tax overpayment. A large statutorily defined interest rate the business was able to claim and the limited notice the local government was given before repayment combined to completely disrupt the local government’s budgeting process. Working with both our local governments and the business community I was able to put forth a piece of legislation that will save taxpayers over $10 million annually while providing needed certainty to our local governments.
Another noteworthy bill that we passed on Crossover Day was House Bill 722, also known as Haleigh’s Hope Act - Part II, to expand the state’s current medical cannabis oil law. During the 2015 legislative session, House Bill 1, the Haleigh’s Hope Act, was passed and signed into law to allow Georgians with certain medical conditions who have obtained low THC cannabis oil legally in another state to possess this oil in Georgia, free from prosecution under state law.
HB 722 would expand the list of qualifying medical conditions permitted to legally possess cannabis oil in Georgia by adding autism, post-traumatic stress disorder, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy, Tourette’s syndrome, terminal illness, and HIV to the existing list.
The bill would also allow manufacturers of low THC oil in other states to ship this oil directly to Georgians who are properly registered with the state’s Department of Public Health. Finally, HB 722 would add low THC oil into the Georgia code section related to driving under the influence to promote safe usage, administration, as well as maintaining the safety of all citizens. By retaining a narrow scope on the legislation and expanding the access to those who truly need access to the treatment, we are providing a better quality of life for our citizens and their families in our state, while also ensuring the safety of all of our citizens.
I was proud to support the unanimous passage of House Bill 862 this week to update currentlaws that allow disabled veterans to qualify for the homestead exemption on their ad valorem taxes. This bill would allow any veteran given honorable discharge determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as being 100 percent disabled or being compensated at the 100 percent level as unemployable to qualify for the exemption.
Additionally, any veteran entitled to receive a statutory award from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for loss of one or bothfeet, loss of one or both hands, or loss of sight in one or both eyes may also qualify for the exemption.
Prior to the passage of this legislation, the requirements for receiving the homestead tax exemption for disabled veterans were much more difficult to achieve, but by clarifying the language, we will expand the access of the disabled veteran homestead exemption to allow all of Georgia’s disabled veterans to qualify.
Any time we are able to give back to our military personnel, we take great pride in doing so, and we are hopeful that with its passage, HB 862 would allow many more of Georgia’s courageous veterans to take advantage of this cost-saving opportunity that they have so rightfully earned.
Now that Crossover Day is behind us, we will be spending time in committee hearings as wetake time to carefully review Senate Bills. There are only nine legislative days left to complete our work for the 2016 legislative session, so if you have any questions about the bills I mentioned, or about any that will be considered by either chamber, I hope you will reach out to me in the remaining days. As your representative, your thoughts and opinions on these important issues are essential to my decision-making process, and I appreciate your input. If you are nearby, you are always welcome at your State Capitol, and I would be happy to serve as your host.
My cell phone is 770.324.2275 and you can reach me by email at email@example.com.
As always, I ask you to keep me and our other state officials in your prayers.
It is an honor to serve as your Representative.
May God Bless You and Your Family,