The pace is beginning to pick up in Atlanta, with more and more bills being considered each day on the floor and in committee meetings. The House passed House Bill 128, sponsored by Representative Rick Williams from Milledgeville. HB 128 creates “Gracie’s Law,” named in honor of Gracie Joy Nobles, one of his constituents. Gracie Joy is almost two years old, and she was born with a large hole in the center of her heart, common in children born with Down Syndrome. Gracie Joy’s parents began researching her heart condition and were shocked to learn that patients with disabilities are not always considered organ transplant candidates because of their disabilities. Gracie’s Law will prohibit Georgia healthcare providers from discriminating against individuals with disabilities when making organ transplant determinations. This bill passed the House unanimously, and we hope that it will be considered favorably by the Senate.
We passed House Bill 287, sponsored by Representative Bonnie Rich from Suwanee, which amends Georgia’s laws regarding drug and alcohol education.
The House Republican Caucus understands the importance of Georgia students receiving accurate and up-to-date information on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. HB 287 adds tobacco and vapor products to the curriculum for Georgia students. As vapor products become more common, we must do everything possible to share the dangers of these products with students.
We passed House Bill 165 and House Bill 168. House Bill 165, sponsored by Representative Timothy Barr from Lawrenceville, allows Georgia drivers to use a mount for a cell phone or GPS device that attaches to the front windshield of a vehicle as long as the device does not obstruct the driver’s view of the roadway. Under current Georgia law, it is not legal to have a device affixed to the front windshield of a vehicle while driving. This law will allow drivers to remain hands-free and safely use a cell phone or GPS device while driving.
House Bill 168, sponsored by Representative Jesse Petrea from Savannah, gives district attorneys access to certain prison disciplinary records. This access is only provided when a prisoner is considered by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles for release. The district attorney can only use this information to respond to the Board with their opinions on the prisoner’s suitability for a pardon or parole. The prisoner must have been sentenced for a serious violent felony or a dangerous sexual offense committed against a minor. Giving a district attorney access to these records would provide a district attorney a full picture of the individual’s behavior after entering the prison system and allow them to make a thoughtful recommendation to the Board.
Finally, Chairman Fleming introduced a significant piece of elections legislation regarding our state’s election process. House Bill 531 will be the subject of continuing hearings, and I encourage you to visit the House of Representatives’ website at www.House.Ga.Gov to access those hearings. As I have mentioned in other newsletters, if you have questions or concerns about Georgia’s elections, please email Elections@FriendsofJonBurns.com, and I will forward your comments to our House’s election committee. As we engage in the 2021 Session, do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), email, or engage on Facebook. If you would like to receive email updates, please visit my website to sign up for my newsletter or email me.
Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly where he serves as the House majority leader.