State Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is reporting each week during the legislative session. The session began Jan. 14 and is expected to last until the latter days of March.
Day 28 (Monday, March 4):
Today is one of my favorite days at the Capitol as I proudly wear my green sports coat in anticipation of the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee visit. Although some people at the Capitol ask if I won my green jacket at a golf tournament in Augusta, those who have played golf with me before don’t bother to ask.
The morning starts off early as we have a Health and Human Services Committee meeting at 8 a.m. where we pass out one bill, table another and have discussion on a third before recessing at 10 a.m. The third bill, SB 202, is a bill dealing with arbitration forms in nursing homes. When we reconvene at 11 a.m., SB 202 is also tabled for further discussion.
Next I chair a Public Safety committee meeting and attend a Higher Education committee meeting before we go into session at 1 p.m. After hearing one of the state senate’s distinguished alumni, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, bring us up to date on the current sequester in Washington, we proudly welcome the St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee to the Senate. This year’s grand marshal, Jimmy Ray, and general chairman, Brendon Sheehan, are among the committee members we honor.
Our calendar is getting busier now as we have 12 bills up for consideration today, including SB 101 which would remove burdensome reporting requirements for firearms dealers and recognize out-of-state weapons carry licenses in Georgia. While there have been many gun bills introduced this year, this is one of the few that has actually made it to the floor for a vote. The bill passes by a 41-10 vote.
Also on the floor today is SB 160 which streamlines the verification process for individuals applying for or renewing business licenses and public benefits. This bill exempts those who have complied with the E-Verify requirement when obtaining a business license or public benefit originally from having to meet this same requirement during the renewal process. Freshman Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) presents the first bill of his career today as he is successful, after much hazing from his colleagues, in passing SB 195. This bill allows schools to stock a supply of auto-injectable epinephrine if a practitioner has issued a prescription in the name of the school, and allows a school employee to provide or administer the drug to a student who the employee believes in good faith is experiencing an anaphylactic adverse reaction.
Day 29 (Tuesday, March 5):
Although we have another busy day today with 15 bills on the calendar, most of our attention is focused on HB 266 which corrects and makes changes to the car title bill passed last year. HB 266 eliminates the double taxation on leased vehicles and establishes a realistic timeline to obtain a vehicle title.
Working throughout the day with the House and governor’s office, the bill is perfected and passed by both chambers and is signed into law by Gov. Deal late in the afternoon. Also passed today is the $19.3 billion FY13 amended budget that the Senate, House and governor’s office have been negotiating.
Among the other bills to pass is SB 216, a bill that I sponsor allowing a medical director of an emergency service provider to contract with more than one pharmacy as a provider of drugs and consultant services. Previously, emergency service providers were limited to one pharmacy but, due to the shortage of some drugs in the marketplace, this bill allows them to contract with more than one pharmacy. SR 212, a bill requiring local school systems to provide instruction in CPR and the use of an AED as part of its health or physical education courses, also passes as does SB 163 which requires the Board of Community Health to examine and identify options for reforming our state’s Medicaid program.
We also take time out today to honor Atlanta Braves superstar Chipper Jones. The future Hall of Famer is a hit at the Capitol as legislators, staff and anyone else around clamor to get their picture taken with him. It is also a pleasure to welcome Marty Daniel and Roger Mustain with Daniel Defense in Bryan County to the Capitol today.
Day 30 (Thursday, March 7):
Today is the 30th day of the session, or crossover day as it is infamously known. In order for bills to still be considered this year they must have crossed over from one chamber to the other by today or they are essentially dead until the next session. This year 246 bills have been filed in the Secretary of the Senate’s office before crossover day.
Fortunately, I have the first of the 28 bills that we consider today, SB 13, the nursing mandatory reporting bill. This bill will require nurses and health care entities to report suspected professional violations to the board of nursing and passes unanimously. Another significant bill to pass today is SB 94 which will allow advanced practice registered nurses to order radiographic imaging tests in accordance with a nurse protocol agreement, regardless of whether a situation is or is not life-threatening.
Also, SB 85 is passed that will expand the type of vaccines that can be administered in a pharmacy setting as well as SB 189 that expands the establishment of college and career academies. I am extremely proud that SR 371, which I co-sponsored, passes by a 45-8 vote. SR 371 calls on Congress to hold an Article V convention for the purpose of proposing a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. SB 206, a companion bill that I co-sponsored, also passes and would limit the authority of Georgia’s delegates to an amendment convention meaning that they could only vote on a balanced budget amendment and nothing else.
These two pieces of legislation are crucial to getting our country back on track, and I am proud to have been a co-sponsor.
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 facebook.com/buddycarterga or follow him on Twitter @Buddy_Carter.