Greg Kirk: Starting session strong
We are wrapping up our second week of this year’s legislative session and the Senate has hit the ground running. Last week we began committee meetings, revisited and introduced new legislation and heard Governor Nathan Deal’s eighth and final State of the State address. Unfortunately I had to miss the fourth day of session, but for a reason I am very proud of. My youngest son graduated his Army basic training and my wife and I were proud to be by his side for this milestone. Once I was back under the Gold Dome, things had not slowed down. We started off this week by honoring an influential native to the state of Georgia, Martin Luther King Jr. Then on Tuesday, the Senate and the House convened for our annual budget hearings, however our budget hearing on Wednesday was cancelled due to the inclement weather across the state.
When we reconvened on Thursday for the fifth legislative day of the session, the Senate passed House Bill 159, otherwise known as the Adoption Bill. The passing of HB 159 was a huge step in the right direction for the Senate. This bill was brought to the floor so early on in this session after its initial passing in our Judiciary Committee meeting last Wednesday. This clean bill is so important to me because of the rights and protections it grants to birth parents, adopting parents and most importantly adoptive children. Georgia adoption laws have not been cleaned up in nearly 30 years and the changes made were very necessary. Under this new legislation, the birth parents of the child have the privilege to grant temporary custody to a chosen guardian without having to involve the state. Among other positives to this bill, the goal is to keep as many children out of foster care as possible while ensuring that they are living in a loving home.
In addition to moving forward with legislation, last week we were given committee assignments. I am honored to announce that I will now serve as chairman of the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committee. This committee deals with legislation that impacts citizens at a local level, therefore I deeply value the leadership position I have been appointed to make decisions that could directly impact you. In addition to this position, I will be a member of the Health and Human Services, Insurance and Labor and Judiciary committees. These committees will all vet legislation of priority and I look forward to getting the ball rolling in addressing these issues.
Last Thursday, in Governor Deal’s State of the State address he noted Georgia’s recognition of being the number one state in the nation in which to do business for the fifth year in a row. I am looking forward to seeing economic growth throughout our state as we continue bringing in new businesses and allowing current Georgia businesses to grow. In his address, he also highlighted amendments to the 2018 Fiscal Year budget and proposals to the 2019 Fiscal Year budget. One of the proposed highlights for the 2019 FY that I would like to acknowledge is the $255.9 million proposed for Medicaid to fund growth and offset the loss of federal and other funds. We continue to hear about rural Georgia and its struggle to keep hospitals thriving in certain areas of our state. Cities are struggling to keep physical buildings, experienced doctors and necessary technology, therefore, we also must continue to conduct research and address issues that may prevent Georgians from accessing adequate healthcare. This issue is not going to have an easy solution, but I can assure you that this issue is going to remain a priority.
Thank you for allowing me to serve District 13 under the Gold Dome. If you ever have a question or concern, please don’t hesitate to contact me or stop by my office if you are near the Capitol. I appreciate your continued support and look forward to building on a greater Georgia.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.