To our readers: State Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) will be reporting each week during the Legislative Session. The session began Jan. 9 and is expected to last until the latter days of March.
Day 15 (Monday, Feb. 6): After what had to have been the shortest weekend ever, we’re back up here today with everyone’s analysis of yesterday’s Super Bowl being the topic of discussion.
Although we don’t go into session until the afternoon, my day starts with a meeting at 8 a.m. with a department head of one of the agencies that is under my purview in Appropriations. After two more meetings with department heads, I catch up with the Leadership Liberty group visiting from Hinesville. It is always good to welcome groups from home, especially such a great group of civic leaders as this.
After running downtown to speak to the Board of Trustees of Georgia Southern University and give them an update on higher education issues in our state, I’m back at the Capitol as we go into session at 1 p.m. I am honored to have 10 pages from the 4-H programs in Bryan and Chatham counties to help us in the Senate today.
Since we don’t have any action items on our calendar, we adjourn after less than an hour and committee meetings begin immediately afterwards. I pass my first bill out of subcommittee today as SB 370, the annual Drug Update bill for Pharmacy. Later I also pass SB 368, a bill allowing the state board of nursing to set up rules to require nurses in our state to have continuing competency as a condition of licensing.
It is a pleasure to welcome Armstrong Atlantic State University President Linda Bleicken to the Capitol today as I join her and other members of the Chatham County delegation in a meeting with Gov. Nathan Deal.
Day 16 (Tuesday, Feb. 7): Today is a very special day at the Capitol as we celebrate Girl Scouts of America Day. Obviously, Savannah and the Girl Scouts have a strong bond and I am honored to be invited to the podium in the Senate to help welcome them. We also celebrate Catholic Day as well as Columbus Day at the Capitol.
Although we have many different celebrations, most days we are in session, they are all special and the pride that each group takes in being honored at their state Capitol is inspiring. As we get down to business we pass three bills, including SB 337, which will prohibit requiring a dentist or physician to participate in any public or private health insurance, public health care system, public service initiative or emergency room coverage as a condition of granting a state license to practice medicine.
We also pass SB 339, which transfers people and planes from the Georgia Aviation Authority back to DNR and the Forestry Commission. We also pass our first House bill of the year, HB 675 which removes the requirement that a non-accredited institution must be a four-year nonprofit institution in order to be accepted as an approved nursing program.
Day 17 (Wednesday, Feb. 8): After an early morning breakfast honoring University of Georgia Alumni currently serving in the legislature, I head over to the office to meet with Dr. Cheryl Dozier, the interim president of Savannah State College, who is doing an excellent job in guiding this important part of our community into the future.
Before heading to caucus, I stop by the lieutenant governor’s office to request a bill I dropped yesterday be assigned to a certain committee. The lieutenant governor and members of the Committee on Assignments meet each morning before session to decide where bills introduced the previous day will be placed. This can be crucial to the fate of a bill. Unfortunately, my bill is assigned to another committee making my work even tougher.
We have 3 more bills on the calendar today as we pass SB 343 removing the title and duties of the Comptroller General from the Commissioner and Department of Insurance and creating a new office under the State Accounting Office. With the passage of this bill, the State Accounting Officers will serve as the Comptroller General of the state of Georgia. SB 351 also passes and will require municipal court judges over traffic courts and misdemeanor courts to have the same training as other judges.
Later in the afternoon I am fortunate to pass SB 369, a bill to extend the automatic repeal date of the Georgia Geospatial Advisory Council to June 30, 2015.
Day 18 (Thursday, Feb. 9): Today we welcome more than 400 pharmacist and pharmacy students to the Capitol as we celebrate VIP (Very Involved Pharmacist) day. As I join this wonderful group for breakfast and we hear from some of our state’s top officials, such as Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens and Attorney General Sam Olens, I can’t help but be proud of my profession for such a great showing.
Later in the morning as we are in session, I am honored to be able to welcome them to the Senate and am all smiles as what seems like the entire gallery is wearing white lab coats. We pass three bills again today as SB 333, which call for broader notification for foreclosure sales, and SR 715 urging Congress to expand the eligibility requirements of the guest worker program and allow states to administer their own guest worker programs monitored by the USDA both pass. SB 357, authored by freshman Sen. John Wilkinson from Toccoa, is a relatively simple bill that deals with the sale of treated timber products but receives much scrutiny as it is the freshman’s first bill.
After much harassment from the senior members of the Senate, the freshman’s bill passes with no opposition. The afternoon is filled with one meeting after another as we are in full swing now in Atlanta.
Sen. Buddy Carter can be reached at Coverdell Legislative Office Building (CLOB) Room 301-A, Atlanta, GA 30334. His Capitol office number is (404) 656-5109.