3/5/2012 - by Rick Jasperse
Monday, February 27th, 2012, marked the beginning of the eighth legislative week of the 2012 session. With “Crossover Day” - the 30th and final legislative day that most House bills have to pass the House and make their way to the Senate - scheduled for Wednesday, March 7th, we will put in some of our longest days this week. This past week started off with a number of the bills passed by the House to protect the well being of children in our State.
House Bill 215 passed this week ensuring registered sex offenders cannot work as school bus drivers. The legislation accomplishes this by making it impossible for registered sex offenders to receive the commercial driver’s license required to drive school buses, charter buses, and other commercial vehicles that may be employed to transport children. House Bill 845 helps protect children from the flu viruses, which are particularly dangerous for children and the elderly, by increasing access to flu vaccine information in early learning facilities..
In addition to protecting our children from the flu and potential abuse, we also passed House Bill 692 to protect our children from being cheated out of their education. Specifically, HB 692 would help deter cheating on state tests by requiring educators proven guilty of CRCT cheating to return all bonuses and/or incentive pay that they received as a result of their students’ CRCT results. These funds would be returned to the local school system. Although the future of these teachers’ jobs are in the hands of their local school board, this bill allows the state to ensure that teachers are not financially rewarded for cheating.
Also this week, after many years of research and meticulous work, we passed House Bill 641, which provides a comprehensive overhaul of the State’s juvenile code. By updating Georgia’s laws affecting children, this bill will allow the state to better help children who enter the state system either through no fault of their own, such as those in foster care, or through their own actions, such as those in juvenile detention. For example, HB 641 would make Georgia’s juvenile courts more efficient in handling cases of abuse, neglect, youth violations of the law, and other circumstances requiring court intervention. The legislation would also improve communication between State agencies by requiring them to create a coordinated plan for each child in the State system. HB 641 would help foster children by ensuring they have access to caring adults who can provide them with the guidance, skills, and opportunities needed to become independent adults.
In addition to passing legislation that protects children, we also passed House Bill 954 to protect the unborn. HB 954 would ban abortions in Georgia after a pregnancy reaches 20 weeks. This would protect the unborn at the stage of development where medical evidence indicates a fetus might be capable of feeling pain. The law includes a very narrow exception for pregnancies that threaten the life of the mother or the life of another unborn child.
Although many of the bills passed by the House this week focused on protecting children, we also passed House Bill 456 to reduce the size of government and its unnecessary intrusion into the lives of Georgians. I was so glad that we acted on HB 456, also known as the Georgia Government Accountability Act. This will allow the State to determine whether there is a continued need for existing state-run programs and agencies. This would be done through the Joint Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee, which would evaluate state agencies and entities based on their productivity, efficiency and responsiveness. The committee would then submit its findings to the General Assembly with a recommendation for legislative action that could include privatization, consolidation, or elimination of the state program or agency. I want to serve on that joint committee.
Finally, as we find ways to create a more efficient and cost-effective state government, I want to tell you about of piece of legislation passed by the House this week that would provide Georgia families with an opportunity to earn extra income of their own. House Bill 520 would allow Georgians with solar panels, windmills, or other alternative energy generators to sell any surplus energy they create to their local electric service provider. This is already possible under current law, but HB 520 increases the amount of energy that an electric service provider can purchase from an individual who owns a device capable of generating a renewable energy source. Like all the legislation passed this week, HB 520 must now receive approval from the state Senate and Gov. Deal before becoming law.
As we move forward toward Crossover Day, I encourage you to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have regarding any House bills or resolutions before it is too late. I always welcome your comments. You can call my Capitol office at (404) 656- 0188 or email me at email@example.com.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Representative.