Last week was the final full week of the 2019 Legislative Session and Tuesday marked the final day — “Sine Die” — of the session. The House and Senate spent countless hours working through new legislation and beginning the “Agree-Disagree” process in which both chambers work to reconcile the changes made as bills travel through the legislative process.
While the final days of session are often long and challenging, I am proud of many of the bills and policies that achieved final passage this week.
Among some of the more notable bills considered by the House this week are the following:
• House Resolution 589: HR 589 creates a House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality to analyze and identify the deficiencies within our state’s health infrastructure which have led to Georgia being ranked as having the worst maternal mortality rate in the United States. This vital committee will work to address the conditions that lead to mothers lacking the information and support necessary to safely deliver a child to term. This study committee comes in addition to $5.5 million included within the FY 2020 Budget to support a Center of Excellence on Maternal Mortality at Morehouse School of Medicine.
• Senate Bill 131: When it originally passed the Senate, SB 131 provided for the creation of a Georgia Major Airport Authority to oversee the operation of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. This legislation was introduced in response to evidence of mismanagement and corruption stemming from the city of Atlanta’s management of the airport. After much debate, this week, the House passed an amended version of SB 131, which, among other things, opted for the creation of a Major Airport Legislative Oversight Committee rather than a complete state takeover of the world’s busiest airport. This Oversight Committee would be charged with evaluating the performance and operation of Georgia’s nine commercial airports. I believe the House’s amendment to SB 131 is a measured and thoughtful approach to evaluating the best course of action to ensure the ethical and effective operation of one of our state’s greatest economic engines.
• Senate Bill 158: SB 158, also known as the Anti-Human Trafficking Protective Response Act, would authorize the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) to provide emergency care and supervision for any child who is the victim of human trafficking for labor or sexual servitude. In addition, DFCS is directed to work with law enforcement to connect such victims to an available victims’ service organization. Further, this bill would also prohibit individuals under 18 from being prosecuted for prostitution. SB 158 is a meaningful next step in Georgia’s fight to combat human and sex trafficking and protect the victims of these horrible crimes.
• Senate Bill 168: SB 168 addresses Georgia’s membership in the Interstate Nurse License Compact (NLC). The NLC allows registered nurses holding a multistate compact license the privilege to practice in both their home state and other member states. SB 168 makes some necessary technical changes to our laws to ensure we maintain our membership in the NLC. These changes ensure that the over 1400 nurses currently practicing in Georgia under a multistate license can continue to provide care. Given the nursing shortage our state faces, this legislation is vital to protecting every Georgian’s access to health care across Georgia.
As we work hard in the days ahead to strengthen Georgia families and businesses, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail (Jon.Burns@House.Ga.Gov) or engage on Facebook (www.FB.com/JonBurnsGA) with your feedback. It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
NOTE: Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly where he serves as the House Majority leader.