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Greg Kirk: Week nine update from the Capitol

Since Crossover Day has passed, activity at the Capitol has picked up as we work to finish the final days of the 2017 legislative session. We’re now focusing our attention on bills originating in the House of Representatives, and our committees are prioritizing their time in kind. I’m proud of the legislation I produced, and now I look forward to see what our colleagues on the other side of the rotunda came up with.
Two weeks ago, as you might remember, the Senate produced a package of four bills as a part of this year’s “Back the Badge” initiative. These bills were written to work together to make serving Georgia as a peace officer safer and more worthwhile. They would ensure that those who assault on-duty officers get the justice that’s due to them, and would turn that justice into compensation for the officers. We also introduced a program that would create “Back the Badge” license plates, the proceeds of which would go right to our law enforcement officers.
We passed this legislation and thereby sent a firm sign to Georgia’s law enforcement officers that we have their backs. That’s why, on Monday, I was humbled to be in the presence of so many of our brothers and sisters in blue as we hosted Law Enforcement Day at the Capitol to honor their service. Two weeks ago, we thanked them with legislation, this week we got to thank them in person.
,Georgia’s peace officers give so much of themselves to their communities and help maintain the peace or, in some cases, return normalcy to their neighborhoods. This is the case in much of Senate District 13, which tornadoes ravaged earlier this year. To ease recovery efforts in my district, I’ve agreed to carry House Bill 251, which would allow Department of Corrections personnel and their prisoners to enter private property for the purpose of property protection, debris removal, service restoration and infrastructure repair and relocation during a state of emergency. Recovering from natural disasters is often a monumental effort, and affected communities need every pair of hands that they can get to rebuild their lives. As a senator representing Georgians who were recently devastated by powerful storms, I am proud to carry this legislation to the Senate.
Another bill I agreed to carry is House Bill 344, which would allow the Department of Human Services (DHS) to deny a paternity test if someone requests it to get out of paying child support under certain circumstances. These circumstances include if they were already tested, if the child was legally adopted by the person, if the child was conceived using in vitro fertilization or other alternative methods, or if DHS already offered the test and it was denied. With these provisions, Georgia will be able to more thoroughly enforce our child support programs.
Now that we’re in the final stretch of this legislative session, we’ve switched gears from writing legislation to enacting legislation. Things are going to start moving quickly very soon, and I’m excited to carry House bills and vet bills carried by my colleagues. If you have any questions about any of the gears that are moving in the General Assembly, please reach out to my office. I’d love to clear up any questions or concerns that you have.

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 greg.kirk@senate.ga.gov.