Greg Kirk: Week five update from the Gold Dome

Published 11:16 am Tuesday, February 26, 2019

We are now finished with 16 legislative days, leaving us with 24 to go. This week, the Senate passed four bills, all of which received unanimous, bipartisan support. In addition, Governor Kemp introduced his “Patients First Act,” or Senate Bill 106, and I had a special guest visit the Senate chamber.

Georgia boasts a prosperous economy with a booming film industry and this week I was proud to introduce a native Georgia actress, Ashley Bratcher, on the Senate floor. She stars as Abby Johnson in “UnPlanned”, a true story about a young woman who went from working for the nation’s largest abortion provider to becoming an outspoken pro-life activist. I was proud to announce the creation and filming of this movie to the Senate chamber and invite my colleagues to a private screening. There were just over a hundred folks present last Tuesday evening. It was an impactful and incredibly moving film. I am looking forward to “UnPlanned” being released in theaters and the important, pro-life message being spread across our nation.

I want to highlight a couple of the bills passed in the Senate this week. Senate Bill 16 came through the Health and Human Services Committee and was passed unanimously on the Senate floor on Monday. This bill would allow licensed physicians from other states that are a part of the Compact to practice in Georgia through an expedited licensure process. This bill would attract physicians to move to our state where we have the need for more health care providers in rural areas.

Another bill that received unanimous, bipartisan support on the Senate floor this week is SB 6. This bill would criminalize the use of drones over prisons and jails to drop contraband or to take photos or videos. Not only would this bill help to reduce crime in these facilities, it is also a safety measure that will protect the safety officials working in and around these facilities.

On Wednesday, Governor Kemp introduced Senate Bill 106, or the Patients First Act. This bill includes the 1115 and 1332 waivers which will need to be approved by the federal government and would allow for the expansion of health care in a fiscally responsible manner. These waivers would allow Georgia to create an innovative health plan that best suits our specific needs within the state. The two goals within health care are accessibility and affordability, and this bill will provide both. I will keep you updated as we vet the bill in the Senate and as it moves its way through the legislature.

Lastly, on Friday, Governor Kemp signed his first piece of legislation as Georgia’s governor, which was also the first bill to be signed in the 2019 session. Senate Bill 25 clarifies language to state that drivers coming from the opposite direction of a stopped school bus may only pass if it is separated by a grass median, unpaved area or other physical barrier.

As we continue moving forward, I will keep you updated on some of the most important legislation of the session. If you ever have any questions or concerns, please reach out, my door is always open!

Sen. Greg Kirk serves as Chairman of the State and Local Governmental Operations Committee. He 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