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Time growing short for 2016 session
Hitchens Bill
State Rep. Bill Hitchens

Last week the House of Representatives spent time in committees and on the floor discussing bills that passed the Senate and were delivered to our chamber on Crossover Day. Concurrently, the Senate spent the week considering bills that we sent to them.

Because we are in the countdown to the last several days of the session, we remain vigilant about using our time wisely in order to address matters that have come before our legislative body for the betterment of Georgia.

The House rejected the Senate version of the fiscal year 2017 budget, which is typical since both bodies hardly ever reach a mutual decision on every specification the first time around. This is actually a positive because it means that members of both chambers are going through the budget with a fine-tooth comb and are serious about approving a budget that is in the best interest of our state. This extensive document is currently in conference committee where differences will be discussed and details will be determined.

A bill titled “Protecting Georgia Small Business Act” passed soundly and will be sent to Governor Deal for his signature. This bill states that neither a franchisee nor the franchisee’s employees are considered employers of the franchisor. The intent of this bill is to give business owners control of their enterprise without excessive federal overreach. Small businesses in Georgia fuel our economy, add depth to our state’s culture, and, for many, fulfill the American dream. It is good to have legislation that facilitates small businesses rather than obstructs hard-working, innovative Georgians.

The Quality Basic Education Act, Senate Bill 309, maintains that high schools receiving state funding cannot participate in an athletic association which prohibits religious expression on student athletes’ clothing. This legislation supports the right for religious expression which is meaningful to many of our student athletes. This bill also allows high schools that receive state funding to play in scrimmage games or other athletic competitions with nonmember schools. SB 309 overwhelmingly passed the House.

Regarding health care, the House passed SB 305, which allows the development of a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form. This form will give directions for a patient’s end of life care and will be voluntarily implemented by the patient. The POLST form can be executed when the attending physician has determined that the patient has a serious illness with less than a year to live and will be useful for the patient to communicate their wishes about life-sustaining treatment.

In addition, the POLST form can be implemented at any time if a person has been diagnosed with dementia or another progressive disease that results in impaired memory, such as Alzheimer’s.

There are caring people in our community who are currently taking care of elderly parents with serious illnesses. As many of you know, when a person has a critical illness and is facing impending death the entire family is affected with many stressors. This bill allows patients and families to communicate about end of life care and hopefully ease some of the difficulty.

It is my great privilege to continue to represent you in the State House and a responsibility that I take seriously. The bills that we consider not only affect your life and mine, but many affect the future of our state. Please know that your input is extremely valuable to me and feel free to contact me with your comments and concerns at (404) 657-1803 or Thank you for allowing me to represent you!