Greg Kirk: Week 11 Update from the Capitol

Published 3:00 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The General Assembly’s final week is encroaching on us. With only two days left, and with the passage of a balanced budget, senators and representatives are eager to get legislation through that they’re confident will make their respective districts and the state better. As always, there were some bills from the House of Representatives that I am glad made it to a vote on the Senate floor.
This week, the Senate passed House Bill 14, which would require sheriffs to send any and all fees collected from criminal and court cases to the county treasurer within 30 days. However, this would only be the case in counties where the sheriff is paid on a salary-only basis. This bill will ensure that the money collected from county courts would go to its appropriate destination as determined by the county treasurer. HB 14 represents an important compromise that will meet the needs of both rural and urban sheriffs.
We also passed House Bill 249, the Jeffrey Dallas Gay Jr. Act, which is the companion of a Senate bill passed earlier in the session. This bill seeks to reduce the number of opioid addicts by reorganizing Georgia’s drug and health departments and reclassifying naloxone as a Schedule V controlled substance. The bill takes a nuanced approach to this complicated problem and would be another prong in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
Another bill I liked was House Bill 262, which would clarify that stand-alone dental plans are only required to identify which healthcare professionals are in-network, as opposed to which healthcare professionals, hospitals and other facilities are in-network. This would free up dental healthcare providers to go into rural communities to provide their services. This bill will open the legal gates for dental hygienists to help rural Georgians get basic dental care.
Currently, under the Safe Place for Newborns Act of 2002, there is a list of safe places where adults can drop off infants less than one week old, for whatever reason. This week, we passed HB 391, which works to expand the Safe Place for Newborns Act of 2002. First, it would expand this list of safe places to surrender an infant to include fire stations and police stations. Second, it would extend the age of a newborn that can be given up from under one week to up to 30 days. Lastly, HB 391 would allow mothers leaving their child in the custody of these places to opt-out of providing any personal information, including her name and address.
Even though the 2017 session is winding down, the dedication with which your senators and representatives are serving you is ramping up. As we move into the final week of the session, you can be confident that my colleagues and I are all acting in the best interests of Georgians and our districts. I am proud to serve District 13 under the gold dome.

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