Greg Kirk: Our final Senate bills

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Georgia Senators are working harder and harder every day as the clock ticks down to the end of the 2017 session. Legislative day 28, or Crossover Day, was the last possible day for us to vote on Senate bills. However, there were several bills that we passed before the mayhem of Crossover Day.
Among them was Senate Bill 1, one of the Senate Majority Caucus’s priority bills, which addresses terrorism in Georgia. We wanted to more narrowly define terrorism so that those who damage, disrupt, or destroy critical infrastructure by way of kidnapping, assassinating, or using explosive devices are properly tried as terrorists.
SB 1 also expands Georgia’s government’s ability to respond to terrorist attacks. If Governor Nathan Deal signs this legislation, a free-standing Georgia Department of Homeland Security will be created as well as a State Board of Homeland Security. Furthermore, under this bill, the Georgia Attorney General will be able to oversee multi-jurisdictional cases and will be able to appoint a special Attorney General to help with the case. We worked with the Senate Minority Caucus and the Legislative Black Caucus to ensure our intentions were supported.
We also passed two critical healthcare bills, SB 121 and SB 81, which are companion bills designed to address the surging opioid addiction crisis in Georgia. Both were named after Jeffrey Dallas Gay Jr., who tragically passed away from a drug overdose. To help prevent such a thing from happening to other Georgia families, these bills would work to improve the way in which the healthcare industry distributes opioids and opiates. SB 121, allows pharmacists to dispense opioid antagonists if the patient has a prescription from the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health and is aligned with the statewide standing order. Furthermore, pharmacies must keep a record of every opioid antagonist they dispense.
SB 81 would allow pharmacists to dispense Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, to individuals in accordance with a statewide standing order. Part two of SB 81 requires those who prescribe or dispense controlled substances must first review prescription information from an electronic database called the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to ensure that they’re distributing these highly addictive drugs with complete contextual knowledge of the patient’s situation. They must review the information from the database before issuing these drugs to a patient for the first time and then at least once every 90 days.
Ensuring women have the opportunity to have healthy, full-term pregnancies is something I will always fight for. Friday, the Senate passed Senate Bill 193, a bill I co-sponsored, which seeks to develop a statewide effort to promote healthy pregnancies and childbirth through competitive grants. These grants would be provided to direct client service providers solely for the use of pregnancy support services at the discretion of the provider. SB 193 also ensures that these providers would still be able to use any non-grant funds for political or religious purposes. This bill represents an important compromise that would promote the rights of women to take care of their bodies and allow service providers to express their First Amendment rights.
Also this week, I was proud to introduce Dr. Todd Sullens to the Senate as Tuesday’s chaplain of the day. He delivered a moving sermon reminding us to keep moving forward in the face of adversity for the sake of our constituents and of all Georgians. Dr. Sullens has served as the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Leesburg for three years, and has also served in churches in Louisiana and Mississippi.
More action is taking place in the Senate chamber right now thanks to Crossover Day. I’m proud of all that we accomplished this week, and I look forward to the march to Day 40, also known as Sine Die. I appreciate any and all feedback or questions, so if you have any, please feel free to contact my office in Atlanta.

Sen. Greg Kirk 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