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Session closes with several bills passing
burns jon 2015
Rep. Jon Burns

On Thursday, the House and Senate completed the 40th and final legislative day. While we passed numerous bills in the final days of session, I would like to bring to your attention several key pieces of legislation that were passed to improve the quality of life for all Georgians.

HB 429, which was originally introduced as Senate Bill 1 and passed unanimously in the House, requires insurance companies to cover up to $35,000 for autism treatment for children 6 years of age or younger. I’m proud of our House and Senate colleagues for coming together on such an important matter that will help these children get the care they deserve.

Senate Bill 76 also was passed last week to improve safety on Georgia’s roads and highways. SB 76 requires drivers to stop at crosswalks that have flashing beacons. SB 76 updates our state laws for bicycles and motorcycles, allowing cyclists and bikers to proceed through a traffic light, in the event that the lightweight design of their bike has caused the traffic light to become inoperable. The rider must follow all other traffic rules to ensure that the intersection is clear of oncoming traffic.

Overall, SB 76 makes Georgia’s roads safer and more convenient for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Senate Bill 132, also known as the Move on When Ready Act, would allow all high school students, whether in public or private school, to apply to a postsecondary school in order to take one class or more. If accepted, the student could then earn credit for the class at both the student’s high school and the postsecondary institution. This legislation will allow students to move at an accelerated pace that matches their unique career path and interests.

SB 89, also known as the Digital Classroom Act, would allow local boards to use digital and electronic software instead of physical textbooks. The bill also encourages local boards to purchase all instructional materials in digital or electronic format and to provide an electronic device for students starting in third grade by July 1, 2020.

Senate Resolution 7, and its companion legislation, Senate Bill 8, address the needs of youth by establishing a Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund Commission to toughen the fines and penalties against sex traffickers. The Safe Harbor would provide a physical and emotional refuge for children to rebuild their lives after experiencing sexual exploitation.

Additionally, human traffickers would be required to register as sex offenders, and pay into a new Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to help victims with housing, health care and other services. Funding for the harbor will be derived from penalties and fees on strip clubs, an industry that has been known to participate in human trafficking.

No child should ever have to endure the sufferings that these youth experience, and it is our responsibility to provide these children with the tools that they need to overcome their afflicted past.

Now that the legislative session has adjourned sine die, Governor Deal will begin reviewing legislation that passed both chambers. I will continue to review legislation passed this session and awaiting the governor’s signature. Thank you for your support and prayers during this session. You can reach me at my Capitol office at (404) 656-5099 or by email at