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COLUMNISTS

Mar. 28 - Sen. Ben Watson’s Weekly Update: A Look at the Last Week of the General Assembly

Category: Columnists

By Sen. Ben Watson, Savannah

March 28, 2017 -  Since we are in the final days of the 2017 legislative session the Senate was extremely busy last week considering many House bills. As I write this there are only two legislative days left before we conclude and I can attest that much was accomplished to improve the lives of Georgians. The bills that I am highlighting in this report are just a few that passed both chambers and could have a positive effect on our community.

House Bill 391 would add police and fire stations as locations where newborn babies up to 30 days old can be left. This bill also states that mothers may decline to provide any personal identifying information when the newborn is left in the custody of these facilities. This provides more safe places for newborns so they can get the care they need at this early stage in their lives.

Regarding our military, HB 245 would grant spouses of military personnel who hold a teaching license the ability to qualify for a temporary education certification if they relocate to Georgia due to their spouse’s military transfer. This would alleviate financial stress on military families and bring more qualified teachers into our classrooms.

House Bill 222 would allow children of members of the Georgia National Guard and Reserve to meet residency requirements so they can be eligible for the HOPE Scholarship. This bill would also require the Georgia Lottery to increase the education funding amount by one percent each year for three years starting at 26.5 percent in Fiscal Year 2018.

Airbags can easily be stolen without the owner of the vehicle knowing it and airbag scams can cause injury or death. The safety of Georgians was a priority with the passage of HB 320 which would ban the sale of fake airbags or any device that falsely signifies that a vehicle has a functioning airbag when it does not.

The primary objective for every legislative session is to fulfill our state constitution’s mandate of passing a balanced budget for the next fiscal year. The House and Senate approved HB 44, a fiscally responsible budget that provides for a wide range of services and which will enable our state to grow and our citizens to thrive. Many media outlets have already reported on the budget extensively but I wanted to point out that $485,000 has been earmarked for the live streaming of Senate committee meetings so that our deliberations can be more transparent. I believe this fosters trust and communication and is a good use of funds for those who would like to stay apprised of committee business but cannot travel to Atlanta. If you would like to read the entire budget document, the website is http://www.house.ga.gov/budget.

Your input continues to be important to me and I encourage you to contact me with your concerns and questions. I can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 404-656-7880. Thank you for placing your trust in me and allowing me to serve you!

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