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Greg KIrk: Week six update from the Gold Dome

The Georgia General Assembly has now officially hit the halfway mark of our 2019 legislative session, with 20 days behind us and just 20 days to go. This week, the Senate passed a couple of major bills in committee, as well as on the Senate floor.
One important piece of legislation that we passed on the floor this week was Senate Bill 48, addressing dyslexia in the state of Georgia. Dyslexia is one of the most common learning challenges and oftentimes goes undiagnosed. Currently, there is no state law to help teachers recognize early signs of dyslexia or how to act upon a diagnosis. Under Senate Bill 48, all kindergarten students would be screened for dyslexia and a referral system for first through third grade students who show symptoms of dyslexia would be in place. In addition, the bill requires dyslexia training in teacher preparation programs. There is no current Georgia law that addresses the challenges of dyslexia, and recognizing this learning challenge at a young age is critical not only in helping set our students up for success in their education, but also to ensure that their self-confidence does not fall short in wondering why they aren’t reading at the same pace as their peers. I was honored to go to the well and speak in support of this bill, while honoring my hero, my uncle, who pushed through this challenge and was incredibly successful.
Another bill that passed on the Senate floor this week was Senate Bill 32. In 2015, in an effort to protect children and the elderly, I introduced this bill. I am thrilled to see Sen. Kirkpatrick pick up the torch. This bill provides civil immunity to individuals who cause property damages when attempting to save an animal from a locked vehicle. This bill extends current law which provides immunity to individuals who save a child from a car to include animals to prevent harm or death from overheating in a vehicle. In order to receive this immunity, a person must call emergency services and wait for their arrival on the scene upon saving the animal from the car. This measure is to ensure that people do not steal the animal, or that the animal is not just left out in the open to be further harmed.
In addition to legislation that passed on the floor, one major bill that passed out of committee this week was Senate Bill 15, or the “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act.” This bill covers a wide range of topics related to school safety including the implementation of safety plans and drills for schools, as well as streamlining the process of reporting threats and suspicious behavior so school personnel and law enforcement are on the same page.
One last bill I want to discuss that has gotten a lot of attention is Senate Bill 13. This bill would increase the salaries of certain state officials, including members of the Senate, by a significant amount. I would like to start by saying that this is not a measure I support. I will not vote for this bill if it makes it to the Senate floor, further, I do not believe this bill should even make it to the Senate floor. The role of a state Senator is a public service to the constituents in which we serve. Each member fills this role knowing our salary, but fulfilling this position because we believe we have the leadership abilities and skill set needed to be the voice for the Georgians who make up our communities. I am proud to serve Senate District 13 and every member who comprises it, and I never take for granted the seat in which I sit under the Gold Dome.

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 greg.kirk@senate.ga.gov.