To our readers: State Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) will be reporting each week during the Legislative session. The session began Jan. 14 and is expected to last until the latter days of March.
Day 6 (Jan. 28): Although we were not in session last week, as a member of the Appropriations committee I spent the week at the Capitol reviewing the budget with various agency heads. The proposed budget is good news for our area with $53 million included for trauma care as well as $52 million for the deepening of the Savannah Harbor. Today is “Mayors Day” at the Capitol and we are joined by mayors and city council members from across the state.
My day starts with a meeting with officials from the city of Pooler and the Environmental Protection Division. When we go into session at 1 p.m., our agenda is limited to one bill, albeit a very important one. For the past few years a bill to toughen the dogfighting laws in our state has languished in committees but garners much attention this year as a result of the much-publicized Michael Vick case.
HB 301 increases the penalties for those owning or training a dog to fight and also punishes those caught attending a dogfight. The bill passes by a 165-6 vote and now heads to the Senate for its consideration.
Later that afternoon I meet with the chairman of the House Insurance Committee and representatives from the medical association and various drug and insurance companies regarding a bill I have introduced allowing doctors to write prescriptions approving formulary drugs for patients.
Day 7 (Jan. 29): After a series of meetings this morning, including one where I have the chance to address a group of optometrists visiting the Capitol, we head into session at 10 a.m. Today we take up a bill attempting to clear up provisions to the sexual offenders law that was passed a few years ago and has had certain parts struck down by the courts.
The new bill will allow registered individuals 10 days to prove to the sheriff that his residence or employment was established prior to the location of the school, church, child care facility or area where minors congregate.
We also welcome last year’s Little League Baseball World Champions from Warner Robins to the House today and greet them with a rousing ovation. The afternoon is spent in an Appropriation Human Resources subcommittee meeting scrutinizing their budget proposal.
Day 8 (Jan. 30): Among the bills debated today is HB 130 that allows a consumer to request a credit reporting agency not to release that consumer’s credit report information by placing a “security freeze” on his or her credit report. It also allows the consumer to temporarily lift or remove the freeze in order to make the credit report information available.
Although there is much debate on this bill concerning the amount the reporting agency will be allowed to charge for the service, it eventually passes and is sent to the Senate.
Day 9 (Jan. 31): The day starts with a meeting with officials from Savannah and Chatham County with the new Department of Transportation Commissioner, Gena Abraham. After a productive meeting, we’re in session at 10 a.m. and take up a bill creating a charter school commission that will serve independently of the Department of Education, but under supervision of the state Board of Education. The bill passes, as does another bill dealing with the rights of those duly licensed to carry a pistol or revolver in any private passenger vehicle.
Tonight is the much anticipated Savannah/Chatham Seafood festival and I am inundated with requests for the hottest ticket in town. As is custom, the event turns out to be one of the highlights of the session as the Depot is packed and everyone enjoys the scrumptious seafood.
Day 10 (Feb. 1): The only bill on the agenda today is a resolution urging the NCAA to implement a playoff system to determine a football national champion. The debate gives Georgia Bulldog fans, still smarting from being left out of the national championship game, a chance to vent their frustrations and passes by a 151-9 margin.
Later that morning we elect DOT board members for five different Congressional districts including the 12th district. I am elated that our current board member, Raybon Anderson from Statesboro, is re-elected to a five-year term.
I have supported Raybon from the beginning and am happy to see him rewarded for the fine job he has done for our district.