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SB 316 makes crossover cut
Hitchens Bill
State Rep. Bill Hitchens

The legislative session is in its ninth week and we are spending much time in committee and on the House floor considering bills from the Senate that have crossed over to our chamber. Once a bill passes both the Senate and House, it is sent to the governor and he decides whether to sign it into law.

The biggest news from this week was the passage of HB 316, a bill that I reported on previously but deserves another mention because it’s vital that our elections are fair and voters are assured their votes are secure. This bill provides for an updated voting system with new voting machines recommended by the Secure, Accessible & Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission that have touchscreens and printers. These machines are like the ones currently in use, in which the voter would touch the screen to cast their vote, but then the machine would print out the voter’s results and the voter could read over it to make sure it’s accurate. Once the voter is certain they did not make a mistake while voting, they will feed the paper copy into an optical scanner where the paper copy is stored into a locked bin at the bottom of the voting machine. If the voter made a mistake, they would take the printed copy to a poll worker and be able to re-cast their vote. The ballot fed into the bin can only be opened by a poll worker and is a permanent, physical record in the event of a re-count. I’ve mentioned that I’m a strong proponent of this new system because when I served as a young state trooper, I worked at a poll on election night and saw the problems and confusion associated with paper ballots. This bill has received final passage in the Senate and House and is now on the way to the governor where he is expected to sign it shortly.

Senate Bill 16 passed. It would allow physicians to become licensed in multiple states and creates another pathway for licensure that does not otherwise change a state’s existing Medical Practice Board. Additionally, the bill adopts the prevailing standard for licensure and affirms that the physician must be under the jurisdiction of the state medical board where the patient is located. Our state is experiencing a shortage of physicians, particularly in rural areas, and this is good legislation that will close that gap, providing needed healthcare in many areas that currently have no doctor.

Another bill regarding healthcare, Senate Bill 18 passed, known as the Direct Primary Care Act. This bill provides that a direct primary care agreement, a periodic fee paid by the patient to the doctor, is not insurance and is not subject to state insurance laws. Direct primary care is a flat membership fee where patients can choose their doctor. SB 18 requires a physician offering a direct primary care agreement to maintain a current license to practice medicine in Georgia. This bill passed overwhelmingly and is a good alternative to receive healthcare. The bill is on the governor’s desk for his signature.

As the session continues, our community will be in the forefront of my mind with each decision I make. Please contact me at or at 404.656.0152 with your concerns and questions. Thank you for allowing me to represent you!