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Moving to prevent abortion coverage under ACA

POSTED: March 27, 2014 5:33 p.m.

The final days of the Georgia General Assembly concluded this week and much was accomplished this legislative session. There was a flurry of activity as both the House and Senate carefully considered and passed much legislation that will now go before Governor Deal for his consideration.

Regarding health care, a bill was passed which will make Georgia the 25th state to ban insurance coverage of abortion under the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” The only exception to this would be in the case of a narrowly-defined “medical emergency.” This legislation is not only a victory for unborn children but also for taxpayers who do not want their hard-earned tax dollars being used for abortions.

As a pro-life supporter and fiscal conservative, I believe this bill makes sense and there is good reason why half of the states in our great nation have passed a similar bill.

You have undoubtedly heard of e-cigarettes as being touted as healthier for second-hand smokers and for the environment. Although void of tobacco, these cigarettes still contain nicotine, a highly-addictive substance. Last week, we approved a bill that would fine retailers $300 for selling noncombustible nicotine alternatives to anyone under age 18.

In addition, any minor who buys or tries to buy e-cigarettes would face up to 20 hours of community service for this infringement. The addictive properties and negative effects of nicotine on the brain have been documented by the medical community and I think this legislation wisely protects our youth.

Also related to health care, SB 391 passed, which states that every medical facility in the state should make a good faith application to the southern regional TRICARE health insurance provider no later than July 1, 2015. TRICARE is the health insurance provider for current and retired military personnel who have placed their lives at risk for the protection of our freedoms. The ability to access medical care at the facility of their choice should be available to these brave men and women.

Another bill passed that I believe addresses fiscal responsibility. It is HB 772, which would allow drug testing for food stamp and welfare recipients if there is “reasonable suspicion” that the applicant is using illegal drugs. This would help alleviate state money intended for food or other necessities from being used for illegal substances.

Since most employers, including the military, require applicants to submit to a drug test, I do not believe this infringes on one’s rights but upholds the legal standards of receiving state assistance.

Georgians across the state are concerned about identity theft, as it is at an all-time high and has become a high-tech method to strip one’s financial savings. As a protective measure to this increasing problem, SB 386 was passed which clarifies that where Social Security numbers, taxpayer identification numbers, or financial account numbers are included in court documents, only the last four digits of the number would be used in the filing.

If birthdates are included, only the year of an individual’s birth may be included, and if a minor is identified, only the initials of the minor may be included. This legislation protects citizens’ privacy, and hopefully will keep identity theft to a minimum.

Although the legislation session for 2013-14 is complete, your input and concerns are always important to me. I can be reached at (404) 656-0178 or by email at bill.hitchens@house.ga.gov. My mailing address at the State Capitol is 501 Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Atlanta, GA 30334.

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