• 73°

Greg Kirk: Week 5 update from the Capitol

Your Georgia Senate has gotten back into its annual groove of lawmaking. Every day, senators are dropping new bills, committees are vetting those bills and the full Senate is voting on refined bills. And while we’re busy as ever, we’re still adopting new resolutions every day honoring Georgia’s finest.
Among those resolutions this week was Senate Resolution 157, which recognized Feb. 7, 2017, as Firefighters Recognition Day at the Capitol. As part of Firefighters Recognition Day, the Capitol honored firefighters with a bagpipe elegy of “Amazing Grace”, and the shoes of fallen firefighters covered the Capitol’s south steps.
We passed a number of bills this week that work to improve the lives of Georgians. One bill, Senate Bill 4, would establish a Georgia Mental Health Task Force. As a licensed counselor, I know full well the importance of proper mental health institutions. If SB 4 becomes law, the task force would be responsible for examining the current Medicaid mental health program, evaluating the mental health landscape in Georgia, understanding the connection between mental health and substance abuse and more.
The Senate also passed SB 52. This bill eliminates the sunset date on a provision in current Georgia law authorizing licensed professional counselors (LPC), such as myself, to perform emergency examinations and certifications of those who need involuntary treatment. Since we have eliminated the sunset provision, LPCs will be able to help their patients get the treatment they need without concern that this ability will be taken away from them.
Arguably the most important bill we’ve passed so far is House Bill 43, the Amended Fiscal Year (AFY) 2017 budget. For this budget, it is required that we reexamine the financial needs of the different agencies and departments throughout the state half-way through each fiscal year. There are several areas where we needed to make adjustments to correct over and under budgeting. So, it is our task to reallocate funds to ensure that the government’s agencies can continue running as efficiently and fiscally conservative as possible. You can find the full AFY 2017 online here: http://www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/AppropriationsDocuments.aspx.
There’s a lot to keep track of under the Gold dome now. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel to reach out to my office and I’ll be happy to talk with you.

Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus, represents the 13th Senate District which includes Crisp, Dooly, Lee, Tift, Turner, and Worth counties, and portions of Sumter and Wilcox counties. He may be reached at 229-854-9706 or by email at greg.kirk@senate.ga.gov.