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Key bills pass in final hours
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It’s over. The clock has run out on the 2007 General Assembly session and we have completed the people’s business. It has been a tough session with highs and lows for all members as we have watched the legislative process.

Our forefathers had it right when they designed our system of government with many checks and balances that allows usually only well vetted legislation to be passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate. Even to the most casual observer, it is difficult to pass any legislation and have it signed into law.

In the closing days of the session, we have passed some very important legislation. We overwhelmingly passed a bill that would allow optometrists to prescribe and administer oral antibiotics to treat ocular surface disease and lid disease. The bill, Senate Bill 17, was passed 155-2 and now goes to the governor for his signature. Another bill heading to the governor is House Bill 357, a tax code reform bill that would update the Georgia tax code to be more inline with the federal tax code.

We have passed the Georgia HERO Scholarship bill, HB 131, the bill that would allow the surviving spouse of a Georgia National Guardsman or reservist to be entitled to attend a state school on a HERO (Helping Educate Reservists and their Offspring) scholarship. This was particularly important as one of the father’s of a Georgia Guardsman who paid the ultimate price in Iraq, promised his son that he would look after his wife. He walked the halls of the Capitol with his son’s boots over his shoulder talking to legislators about the importance of passage of this bill. It too goes to the governor for his approval.

We passed SB 60 that would establish the Georgia Trauma Commission.This is extremely important as this legislation comes from an exhaustive 2006 study committee that reviewed the State’s trauma care network.

This is the first step in finding a way to enhance Georgia’s hospitals for trauma care. The bill passed 158-1.

In an effort to insure that prescription narcotics are carefully controlled, we passed Senate Bill 205, a bill that would create the “Prescription Medication Integrity Act.” The act requires that each person engaged in the wholesale distribution of prescription drugs maintain inventories and records. It will also conduct a study of the distribution of prescription drugs and will establish a mandated implementation date for electronic pedigrees. The pedigree will include all necessary identifying information on each sale from the manufacturer to the sale to the pharmacists.

We passed a bill that will keep more serious offenders of our laws in prison. By passing HB 197, we have terminated the defendant’s ability to have a three-judge panel review the prison sentence on all sentences of 12 years or more. Current law allows for the review but we believe that the review process only weakens the original process of the judicial proceedings. This bill now goes to the governor for his review and signature.

Now that the session is over, I will do an end-of-session review article that will highlight the key legislation that was passed and sent to the governor for his approval.

As always, please feel free to contact me at (404) 273-1340 or by email at