Greg Kirk: Week 8 update from the Gold Dome

Published 2:10 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The General Assembly can now check Crossover Day off our list of deadlines for the 2019 legislative session. This week was the busiest, but arguably the most efficient, week yet as the Senate heard and debated 68 pieces of legislation. With more bills on our Rules calendar each day, we worked long hours to ensure that bills were fully vetted, hearing from both sides equally on the measures we took up. Before I highlight what I think are some of the most important pieces of legislation we passed, I did want to share a very memorable experience from the Senate Chamber this week.
Each legislative day, we have an order of operation outside of just presenting, debating, and voting on legislation. Before getting to the day’s business, senators have the opportunity to bring in their hometown pastor to serve as Chaplain of the Day. These pastors address the chamber and embed reminders within scripture of our duty as state senators to make the best decisions for the people and the state in which we serve. On Friday, I was proud to stand before my colleagues in the Senate as I served as Chaplain of the Day. Sometimes it’s easy for people to get lost in the politics over the policies that we as state senators are here to speak on behalf of our constituents. So far, this session, many bipartisan bills have been passed in the Senate that I know many of us senators are proud of, but our time is not over yet. If we continue to respect our colleagues’ beliefs, while standing firm in our own, I believe that we will continue to have productive conversations moving forward.
With this in mind, I want to highlight some of the many bills that received bipartisan support this week, two of which I sponsored. Senate Bill 168 would allow advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who hold multistate licenses to practice in Georgia, as long as the license was issued by another state under the Nurse Licensure Compact. The second bill I sponsored, Senate Bill 184, would require state employee health insurance plans to pay for services provided by federally qualified health centers at the same rates as Medicare. Both of these measures will be beneficial to rural Georgia, and any other part of our state that lacks easy access to affordable health care.
Senate Bill 77 was also passed last week to protect all monuments honoring the state flag, seal, and other symbols, to provide additional protections for government statues, monuments, plaques, banners and other commemorative symbols. These monuments are important because they are of historical value, whether we use them to honor those who went before us or as a reminder to not repeat history. Additionally, this bill would protect monuments of biblical significance, including the Ten Commandments.
Other bills I’d like to highlight are as follows:
• Senate Bill 60 would require the Georgia Department of Education to develop guidelines to inform high school students, parents, and coaches involved in athletic activities about the dangers and warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest.
• Senate Bill 83 would expand curriculum provisions to allow high schools to provide elective courses on the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
• Senate Bill 142 would require a statement indicating whether a subscriber’s health policy is fully insured or subject to regulations to be written on the subscriber’s insurance card.
• Senate Bill 170 would allow local governments to display the “Honor and Remember” flag in dedication of armed servicemen and women who died in the line of duty.
• Senate Bill 56 would require hospitals and physicians to make information regarding the providers and standard prices of specific health care services available to the patient.
• Senate Bill 2 would enable Georgia’s 41 Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs) to provide internet services and broadband to their customers through a broadband affiliate.
• Senate Bill 225 would help to keep kids with family members out of foster care with a new federal program called Families First, and brings “qualified residential treatment programs” into compliance with federal law.
These are just some of the 68 pieces of legislation heard on the Senate floor this week. If you have any questions about these or any other legislation we took up this week, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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