Greg Kirk: Week Seven Update from the Gold Dome
Published 11:41 am Saturday, March 9, 2019
With just two legislative days left before our deadline of Crossover Day on Thursday, the Senate has been busy vetting legislation in committees as we are working to have as many good pieces of legislation hit the Senate floor for debate before they’re sent over to the House. Last week, the Senate passed 28 pieces of legislation, many of which with unanimous support and little debate. We did, however, face some of the more controversial bills during week seven. There were a couple of bills on the floor that received a few hours of debate that I believe in the end rightfully passed.
In addition to the many hours we devoted to focusing on legislation, I had a very special visitor stop by the Senate Chamber on Monday. My son Jeremy was home on leave from his military service and took the time to come by the Capitol where he was recognized for his service by the Senate. I was so proud to have Jeremy with me this week and will cherish this special moment.
A couple of pieces of legislation that I want to highlight this week include several health care initiatives. On Tuesday, the Senate passed five bills that address health care, one being the Governor’s proposal in expanding accessible and affordable health care through Senate Bill 106, or the “Patients First Act.” This bill would allow Georgia to apply for the 1115 and 1332 waivers from the federal government. The Department of Community Health and the Department of Insurance would work with the Governor to request these waivers in order to expand access to health care, while providing options best for Georgia itself with lower costs for private insurance coverage.
Senate Bills 115 and 118 also passed on Tuesday. SB 115 would allow for telemedicine licenses to be issued to physicians who don’t live in Georgia, but would have the opportunity to provide services to Georgia patients through telehealth. SB 118 provides a definition of what exactly telemedicine is and requires insurance companies to cover telehealth services. Both bills allow for an expansion of medical services for those who may not have access currently. In addition, the Senate passed Senate Bill 18 which allows for patients to enter into a direct primary care agreement with their physician that will not be subject to insurance regulations. The goal behind this legislation is also to provide citizens with more access to affordable health care by taking insurance out of the picture.
The last bill I want to highlight is Senate Bill 15, or the “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act.” This bill lays the foundation for safety concerns of our schools and the people within each of them. This bill is the result of findings that the Senate School Safety Study Committee came up with during their time meeting with students, teachers, law enforcement, and other key stakeholders during the interim. The bill would require schools to conduct threat assessments as well as streamline the process of communication beginning with an initial suspicion or threat to the action taken by an outside agency. I am proud of the many details this bill provides to address this pressing issue, while also ensuing that schools have the ability to cater their own personal needs where it is appropriate.
Now that we are nearing Crossover Day, there is no doubt in my mind that several important bills are yet to come before us. If you ever have any questions regarding upcoming or passed legislation, please reach out for my office.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.