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Week 7 — Updates from the Capitol: March 6, 2015

All of North Georgia was covered with a blanket of snow this week, but with proper preparation from Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the Georgia Department of Transportation, we were able to successfully complete day 23 of the legislative session right on schedule.

Senate Bill 34, a piece of legislation I worked very hard on, passed with a vote of 50-2 on Tuesday. The bill will protect individuals who enter a parked vehicle to remove individuals who are in imminent danger. SB 34 will amend Georgia’s “Good Samaritan” law protecting individuals rendering emergency care from liability of property damage or injury. Sadly, we have lost too many children who have been irresponsibly left in vehicles. This law simply protects those upstanding citizens who take action in hopes of protecting those in need.

SB 88 has the potential to affect a large number of employers and their employees not only in District 17, but across Georgia. The bill authorizes employers to pay employee wages and salaries by a prepaid debit card from which funds may be withdrawn or transferred. Any employers who choose this method must provide their employees with an explanation of the requirements, along with the option to participate or not to participate. SB 88 passed by a vote of 43-8.

On Wednesday, the House passed SB 53 by a vote or 134-23. This was the first bill I sponsored as a freshman senator. As a reminder, SB 53 is a sunset clause to SB 65, which was passed last year by my colleague, Sen. Renee Unterman. Sen. Unterman’s original bill allowed licensed professional counselors (LPC) to also be able to perform emergency examinations on those who are mentally ill or drug or alcohol dependent to determine if they require involuntary treatment. I am pleased to see that my first piece of legislation has passed both chambers and will now go on to be signed into law by Gov. Deal.

We have an outstanding number of individuals living in District 13 who thrive on profits made from farming. On Tuesday, we celebrated Future Farmers of America Day at the Capitol. The Georgia Future Farmers of America Association prepares young professionals to meet growing agricultural demands. With 37,684 current members, the Georgia Future Farmers of America Association is the third largest in the nation.

We are truly blessed to have so many young leaders ready to take the reins of the future of Georgia’s agribusiness; the single largest contributor to our state’s economy. We also commended the Georgia Young Farmers Association and recognized Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, as Young Farmers Day at the Capitol. The Georgia Young Farmers Association is an agricultural education program committed to providing education, leadership and networking opportunities to young professionals interested in agriculture.

The House passed its version of the Fiscal Year 2016 budget on Thursday. It now passes to the Senate for our approval. Next week, Senate Appropriations Subcommittees will be meeting to determine the proper allocation of funds for FY 2016. We are planning to pass our version of FY 2016 by Friday, March 20, 2015.

Please continue to stay in touch with me and share your thoughts as we work through the legislative session, especially as more bills start moving through the legislative process. As always, I am honored to represent you in the 13th Senate District.

Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus, represents the 13th Senate District which includes Crisp, Dodge, Dooly, Lee, Tift, Turner, and Worth counties and portions of Sumter and Wilcox counties. He can be reached by phone at 404.463.5258 or email at greg.kirk@senate.ga.gov