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Senate has to get back to work on St. Patricks Day sales bill
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State Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is reporting each week during the legislative session. The session began Jan. 13 and is expected to last until the first of March.

Day 22 (Monday, Feb. 17): Today we celebrate Presidents Day. While we would normally be off in order to observe the holiday, we are in session today to make up for some of the time that last week’s inclement weather caused us to miss.

We have three bills on the agenda including SB 318, sponsored by Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah). This bill would allow cities and counties that already allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays from 12:30 p.m. to 12 midnight in establishments deriving the majority of their sales from food, to adopt a resolution or ordinance allowing bars not deriving the majority of their sales from food the same right on any Sunday before or on which a “spirited holiday” falls. “Spirited holiday” is defined in the bill as Independence Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day and St. Patrick’s Day.

Opposition to the bill is, not surprisingly, heavy and the bill appears to be heading for defeat. In an attempt to salvage the bill, I present an amendment that removes “spirited holidays” and only includes St. Patrick’s Day.

Although the amendment passes, it is not enough to salvage the bill, and it fails by one vote. A motion for reconsideration is made immediately following the vote and the motion is passed, meaning that the bill will be sent back to the Rules Committee for future consideration.

SB 60, a bill mandating that all official communications sent to officers, members and employees of the General Assembly be in electronic format, and SB 746, a bill expressing support for a state plan for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, both pass.

Day 23 (Tuesday, Feb. 18): Today is a special day for us in the Senate as we recognize Hall of Fame pitcher and Atlanta Brave great Tom Glavine for his outstanding career and for the philanthropic work that he and his wife Chris do in our state. Today is also Lupus Day, Thrombosis Day, Future Farmers of America Day and University of West Georgia Day at the Capitol.

While it may seem that by recognizing so many groups on one day diminishes their importance, nothing could be further from the truth. Regardless of how many groups we recognize on any given day, they are important and very special for all of us.

We have six bills on the calendar today including two bills, SB 95 calling for the nonpartisan election for county CEOs, and SB 350 supporting the governor’s foster care initiatives to reform the child welfare program and create a public-private partnership in Georgia, that are very controversial and, although both end up passing, generate lengthy discussions.

Also during our session today, Sen. Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone), who serves as majority leader and is serving in his 10th legislative session, announces that he will be not be seeking re-election next year. Sen. Chance is the father of three beautiful young girls, including Isabella, who was born during last year’s session, and he is one of the finest senators in our chamber. Along with the earlier retirement announcement of Sen. Cecil Staton (R-Macon), we are losing two great public servants and two of my good friends.

Day 24 (Wednesday, Feb. 19): While every day is special at the Capitol, today is very special for me for two reasons. First of all, I am honored this morning to have the opportunity to address the Fraternal Order of Police, some of our finest public safety officers in the state who are here visiting. This fine group of men and women, whether they be with the DNR, Corrections or other agency, make us proud every day with the work they do for our state.

Secondly, during our session today I have the very special honor of recognizing one of our state’s most distinguished citizens, Mr. Jim Chavers, the remaining living member of the 4th Marine Division that fought in World War II’s Battle of Iwo Jima. This American hero is a Savannah resident, and borrowing a saying from my friend Sen. Bill Jackson (R-Appling), I remind the senators that with Mr. Chavers here they “are in the presence of a great man.”

We only have three bills on the calendar today, two of which are routine conveyance of state-owned property bills, and SB 342, which permits the Department of Public Health to disclose HIV status to a provider to facilitate treatment. The afternoon is spent in meetings reviewing the FY 15 budget and hearing from department heads explaining their requests.

Day 25 (Thursday, Feb. 20): It is good to welcome Congressmen John Lewis and Jack Kingston to the Senate today and to hear from them the latest news from our nation’s Capitol. We have three bills on the calendar today, including SB 325, a bill that strengthens provisions regulating fire protection sprinkler contractors and fire suppression contractors. This afternoon proves to be very busy and quite successful as I begin by chairing a Public Safety meeting, then attending two Appropriation subcommittee meetings.

Afterwards, I present two very important bills before the Insurance and Labor committee, chaired by Sen. Tim Golden (R-Valdosta). SR 747, which I co-sponsored with Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick), encourages Congress to repeal or amend the flood insurance bill known as Biggert Waters and passes out first. SB 334, a bill prohibiting any state department or agency of the state from assisting in implementing any part of the Affordable Care Act, also passes out.

Day 26 (Friday, Feb. 21): We have a somewhat heavy load for a Friday as we have six bills on the calendar today, including SB 299, a bill that provides flexibility for establishing watershed protection standards. This is an issue that has been around for many years and is a big problem in the mountains of north Georgia.

We also pass HB 809, dealing with patent infringement claims, creating a cause of action for bad faith assertions of patent infringement. This bill is important because of the rising number of bad faith claims of patent infringement in our court system. SB 343, creating the high school athletics overview committee, is moved to the foot of the calendar at the request of the author and now goes back to the rules committee to be heard another day.

Sen. Buddy Carter can be reached at 421-B State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334. His Capitol office number is (404) 656-5109. You can connect with him on Facebook at or follow him on Twitter @Buddy_Carter.