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Bill helps veterans find work
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The 2013 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly officially completed crossover day on Thursday and this day marks the 30th day of our 40-day session. The bills that survived crossover day in the House will now travel to the Senate for their counsel and consideration.

One of the bills passed this week would help veterans find jobs after returning home from serving our country. House Bill 188 creates the potential for newly honorably-discharged veterans who have received training in certain specialized skilled trades to receive an initial professional license from the Secretary of State.

The bill does this by creating a committee that would identify military jobs with requirements that meet or exceed Georgia requirements for certification in skilled trades applicable to HVAC, plumbing, electrical contracting, utility foreman or residential light commercial contracting.

If their research shows it is appropriate, the committee could allow an exemption from some Georgia requirements for veterans with these skills. The committee could also certify military spouses living in Georgia who have a skilled trade certification from another state if the committee determines that the other state’s requirements meet or exceed Georgia’s requirements.

This will help our state fill the 60,000 vacancies in these skilled trades expected over the next seven years and reduce the number of unemployed veterans in Georgia.

The HOPE Scholarship and Grant program is one of our greatest assets in Georgia that assists students with their higher education costs. Changes being proposed to the HOPE Grant (that relates only to technical colleges) will continue to provide educational opportunities for our students. This legislation would change the eligibility requirements to qualify for the HOPE Grant program for technical colleges from 3.0 grade-point average to a 2.0 GPA. Approximately 9,000 technical college students lost the HOPE Grant last year because they could not maintain the GPA requirement. Our goal is to help students attain technical training and degrees so they can become a successful part of our workforce.

One of the most debated bills on crossover day, House Bill 512, passed the House and now goes to the Senate. It would allow licensed weapons holders who have gone through the process of finger printing, a background check, and a mental health inquiry to obtain a Georgia Weapons License (GWL) to carry their firearms in more places in Georgia than currently allowed by state law.

This bill, known as the Safe Carry Protection Act, would allow property owners — not the government — to decide whether a licensed weapon holder may carry a gun in their places of worship and establishments that primarily serve alcoholic beverages. The bill would also allow GWL holders to carry their firearm in a government building that is not afforded the protection of security services at the entrances or exits of the premises.

Additionally, HB 512 would allow gun owners to carry their firearms on most areas of public college campuses, but would not allow weapons in residence halls or competitive sporting events. HB 512 also would give each local board of education the option to designate one or more administrators to possess a weapon in a school safety zone.

If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-5099 or write to me at: State Rep. Jon Burns, 18 Capitol Square, 228 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334 or e-mail me at