Greg KIrk: Week 11 update from the Gold Dome
Published 9:09 am Wednesday, April 3, 2019
The Senate just wrapped up week 11 under the Gold Dome leaving us with just one day to go. This year, Sine Die will fall tomorrow, April 2nd, where both the House and Senate chambers will complete our work for the 2019 legislative session. Because we are only in the first year of the biennial session, any piece of legislation that was introduced this year but needed more work before final passage still has the potential to be considered next year. While some important measures fall under this category, I believe that the General Assembly really got to work this session, passing some of the most impactful legislation. Two of the bills I want to highlight this week resulted from long hours of hearings and debate, but I believe the two bills are what’s best for Georgia.
The first bill I want to mention is House Bill 481, or the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, also known as the Heartbeat Bill. HB 481 would establish the life of an unborn child as soon as the heartbeat is detected, which is typically around six weeks, and would prevent the termination of a pregnancy at or past this point. The Senate Science and Technology Committee amended the bill’s original version to allow for exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or certain specified health conditions. Though I believe life begins at conception, I supported this bill and know it will help reduce the 27,455 abortions performed on average in our state each year. I was proud to speak in support of this measure when it came to the Senate floor as I have always, and will always be, in support of life.
The reason I, and so many of my colleagues, stood in support of this bill was to provide a voice for the innocent, unborn child. Once the heartbeat is detected, there is no argument whether or not a life has begun. While I trust women to make choices about their own bodies, this comes down to more than just her own body and her own life, there is now another life to take into consideration. I support HB 481 because I support life, no matter what stage of development it has reached. This bill was passed in the House, amended and passed in the Senate and the Senate’s substitute has now also been approved by the House. The bill is in the final step of becoming law, pending signature of the governor.
The second bill I wanted to highlight from this year’s session is Senate Bill 77 which would protect all monuments, whether privately owned, or owned by the state. The bill includes protections for flags, seals and other symbols, but the hot topic in this bill is the protection of all monuments. The legislation was drafted by our Rules Chairman, Sen. Jeff Mullis, whose district faced desecration of gravestones this past year. As you may remember, last year I introduced Senate Bill 347 which would increase the penalty of criminal trespassing on military and nonmilitary graves. This has been an issue for some time and is not just seen in one part of our state, it has reached every corner. SB 77 will protect the memory of lives that have been lost, as well as preserve the history of our state and nation. I was proud to support this legislation, not only to honor the lives of all Georgians, but to remember our history, good and bad, because that is what has put our state and our country above all.
I also want to highlight the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget and some good news we received for Dooley, Turner and Wilcox Counties. The State Board of Education budget originally had 10 percent slotted through Sparsity Grants for these counties, but we were able to double that amount and further our goals for quality education for all of our students. I am proud to represent our area and be able to work towards a more level playing field for children across District 13.
As we wind down here at the Capitol, I want to remind you that I am your Senator year-round. During the interim is when we are drafting legislation to be considered for the next session. If you have any concerns that you would like me to address, I will be your voice in the Senate. It is an honor to serve district 13 each and every day, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office if there is anything I can help you with.
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.