Press Release – AT&T Expands Ultra-Fast Internet in Walton

AT&T Expands Ultra-Fast Internet Speeds in Walton County
AT&T Fiber Now Available to 1 Million Georgia Locations
MONROE, GA, March 21, 2019 — To continue to improve how our customers connect,
AT&T* is investing to expand and enhance its 100% fiber network powered by AT&T Fiber
and deliver our fastest internet speeds to more customers. Ultra-fast internet speeds are
now available to more than 1 million locations across the state of Georgia, including in parts
of Walton County.
“The strength of our economy relies on innovation and investment,” said State
Representative Bruce Williamson. “AT&T’s commitment to building state-of-the-art
infrastructure and expanding broadband access offers economic growth opportunities in
Walton County and enriches the quality of life for area residents. I applaud AT&T’s
continuing investment in communities across Georgia.”
“We are proud of our extensive fiber footprint in Georgia, which is just part of our nearly
140-year history of helping connect this great state. We are committed to innovation and
bringing cutting-edge technologies, services, and products that provide opportunities in all
segments of our economy,” said Venessa Harrison, president of AT&T Georgia. “The
significant investments we’re making in rural and urban areas across Georgia allow our
thousands of local AT&T employees to continue their legacy of helping drive opportunity in
their home communities.”
Communities in Georgia are among the 11 million locations across 84 metros nationwide
where our ultra-fast internet service is currently available. We plan to add reach at least 14
million locations across at least 85 metro areas by mid-2019.
Residents looking for more information on speeds and availability can click here. Businesses
interested in AT&T Business Fiber can learn more at For more
information on AT&T Fiber for residential customers, visit
AT&T in Georgia:
AT&T invested nearly $5.3 billion in its wireless and wireline networks in Georgia between
2015 through 2017 and has nearly 4.7 million strand miles of fiber optics stretching across
our footprint in Georgia. This drives upgrades to reliability, coverage, speed and
performance for residents and business customers.
March 21, 2019
© 2016 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T and the Globe logo are registered trademarks of AT&T Intellectual Property. Page 2
AT&T is the largest U.S.-based provider of fiber for business services nationwide. Across
Georgia, AT&T covers more than 106,000 business customer locations with high-speed
internet services.
Initial availability limited to select areas. May not be available in your area. Go to to see if
you qualify.
Cautionary Language Regarding Forward Looking Statements: Information set forth in this news
release contains financial estimates and other forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and
uncertainties, and actual results may differ materially. A discussion of factors that may affect future
results is contained in AT&T Inc.’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. AT&T disclaims
any obligation to update or revise statements contained in this news release based on new information
or otherwise.
*About AT&T Communications
We help family, friends and neighbors connect in meaningful ways every day. From the first phone call
140+ years ago to mobile video streaming, we innovate to improve lives. We have the nation’s largest
and most reliable network and the nation’s best network for video streaming.** We’re building FirstNet
just for first responders and creating next-generation mobile 5G. With DIRECTV and DIRECTV NOW, we
deliver entertainment people love to talk about. Our smart, highly secure solutions serve over 3 million
global businesses – nearly all of the Fortune 1000. And worldwide, our spirit of service drives employees
to give back to their communities.
AT&T Communications is part of AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T). Learn more at

Legislative Update – Week 9 – 2019

With Crossover Day behind us, the House reconvened under the Gold Dome for the ninth week of the legislative session on Monday, March 11. Now that we have passed this major legislative milestone, we quickly got back to work and considered several Senate measures, many of which focused on enhancing quality health care in Georgia.

My colleagues and I unanimously adopted House Resolution 135 to support Georgians living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. HR 135 urges the U.S. Congress to change the current processing time for patients who are seeking Social Security Disability Insurance benefit assistance. Under current federal law, patients are required to wait five months after being diagnosed with ALS before receiving their Social Security Disability Insurance benefit payments  It is estimated that more than 20,000 Americans may be living with ALS at any given time, with military veterans being approximately twice as likely to develop ALS. The majority of ALS patients have a life expectancy of two to five years after receiving their diagnosis. Because of the gravity of this disease, the House adopted HR 135, which recognizes that citizens living with ALS cannot wait for benefits and encourages Congress to respond to these needs.

The House also unanimously passed legislation that would provide citizens with a new pathway to become an organ donor. Not only does Senate Bill 99 promote public education and awareness for the ever-increasing need for organ donors in Georgia, this measure would also allow those applying for a hunting, fishing or trapping license to have the option to register to become an organ donor through the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) online hunting licensing system,  similar to the way citizens can sign-up for organ donor status through a state driver’s license application. If signed into law, this bill would educate citizens about the life-saving gift of organ donation and could increase the number of donors available to help the 5,330 patients in Georgia who are currently waiting for organ or tissue transplants.

Also this week, the House adopted House Resolution 403 to advocate for Georgians with disabilities. The House unanimously adopted HR 403 to ask convenience stores to provide easy access to disabled customers by posting signs informing them about assistance available for refueling.  Currently, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires self-service gas stations or convenience stores to provide additional services for citizens with disabilities, but these laws have not been strictly enforced.  This resolution supports Georgians with disabilities by calling on store owners to adhere to federal law.

The House continued to promote greater health care opportunities for our citizens this week with the passage of Senate Bill 16. This measure would add Georgia to the list of 25 other states that are part of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. This compact would allow qualified physicians moving to Georgia from a compact member state to go through an expedited licensure process to practice across state borders and become licensed in multiple states.  In order for a doctor to be admitted to practice under this act, the doctor must be licensed under the prevailing standard for medical licensure, and all applicants would be required to pay for and pass a criminal background check. This bill would address doctor shortages and the lack of accessible health care, especially in our rural areas, and would expand the use of telemedicine, which is essential to developing innovative health care resources within our rural communities. SB 16 would help our state license qualified doctors more efficiently and would help all Georgians receive greater access to health care without having to travel to do so.

Additionally, the House passed Senate Bill 18, or the Direct Primary Care Act, which would provide an alternative approach to affordable health care by allowing primary care providers to  serve a patient through a direct primary care agreement. This would allow patients to pay a monthly fee to a participating physician in order to receive care, and the agreement would not be considered insurance and therefore, would not be subject to state insurance laws or insurance billing. Under the Direct Primary Care Act, a physician that is entering into a direct primary care agreement would not need a certificate of authority or license other than maintaining a current license to practice medicine in Georgia. The payment agreements would include a 30-day notice for either the patient or the doctor if either party chooses to terminate the contract. This measure would allow physicians providing health care services under a direct primary care agreement the right to decline a patient if the physician is unable to provide the appropriate level and type of health care services the patient needs. SB 18 would provide citizens with an alternative avenue towards efficient and affordable health care by removing the unnecessary red tape.

Finally, there is legislation being considered that would end surprise billing in hospitals by third party providers. I very much support this sensible measure and am hopeful that it will pass this session.

For the final eight legislative days, as we continue working with the Senate to ensure the final passage of meaningful legislation, I encourage you to contact me  with any concerns you might have about any of the bills that are up for consideration in the House or Senate. Your comments are always important to me, and I hope to hear from you soon. You can call my office at (404) 656-5024, or email me at As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.

Legislative Update – Week 7 – 2019

t mcferrin

We started the seventh week of the 2019 legislative session on Monday, February 25, 2019. We were in session all five days this week and passed over 40 bills and resolutions on the House floor, including the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget. We are over halfway through this legislative session, and with “Cross Over Day” quickly approaching, we’ve been extremely busy.

This week, I had many visitors from Walton County and beyond.  It was my great honor to have penned the resolution inviting legendary Georgia high school football coach and Walton County resident, T. McFerrin, to the state capitol to be honored in the state legislature for his induction to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.  Coach McFerrin won state championships as a head coach at Jefferson and Elbert County, part of a 38-year career and a record of 340-102-4. He is the only coach to have led four schools to the state finals, five to the state semifinals and seven to the state quarterfinals. He led seven different schools to region championships and won 13 region titles overall in his career.  Governor Brian Kemp visited with Coach McFerrin along with his son Rob McFerrin, wife Jane McFerrin, and friends Judy and Tyler Adams.

My House Pages this week were Coleman, Karrigan and Tristen Malcom. They are the children of Jonathan and Kimberly Malcom of Monroe.  If your child (ages 12 and up) would like to serve as a House Page, please contact my office.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Takashi (Thomas) Shinozuka, Consul-General of Japan.  Our local industries, Hitachi Automotive Systems and Takeda Pharmaceuticals, are Japanese-owned businesses that employ 2700 in Walton County.

It was a very busy week with several important bills passing the House.  Each legislative session, the General Assembly is constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget for the next fiscal year, and on Thursday, the House fulfilled that obligation by passing House Bill 31, the Fiscal Year 2020 budget. The FY 2020 budget is set at $27.5 billion, an increase of $1.05 billion, or 3.95 percent, over the previous year’s budget. The House version of the budget highlights women’s and children’s issues including maternal mortality; education, including funding the largest pay raise in the state’s history for teachers and certified personnel; and additional funding for our most vulnerable Georgians, including the elderly and foster children.

The FY 2020 budget promotes economic development across our state through appropriations that will support our growing transit systems. The FY 2020 budget recognizes an increase of $38.6 million in new revenue for transportation, an increase of more than seven percent over the current year’s budget. The innovative Atlanta-Region Transit Link (ATL) Authority is included in this appropriation and would receive $2.48 million to establish the initial budget to plan and govern transit projects in the 13-county Atlanta region. The House’s focus on economic development stretches across various industries and issues, and I look forward to seeing the strides Georgia will make with the help of this funding.

The House remains devoted to improving educational opportunities statewide, and this commitment to K-12 and higher education is indicated in the House budget. It includes a historic pay raise of $2,775 for each certified teacher and school personnel, including counselors, social workers, psychologists, special education specialists, speech and language pathologists, media specialists and technology specialists, in our public education system, which increases the base salary pay for teachers by 8.1 percent. The House budget also appropriates $483 million for the Quality Basic Education program (QBE) and $121.9 million to the Department of Education for enrollment growth and training. Within the Student Finance Commission, the budget provides the important HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships with $74.7 million for 22,000 additional awards. This funding also increases the award amount by three percent to match the rising costs of college tuition and keep in-state colleges affordable. The House budget also ensures the longevity of dual enrollment programs by saving $4.1 million through limiting these programs to hardworking 11th and 12th graders during fall and spring semesters only. To create safer school environments for all Georgia students, and based on the recommendations of the House School Security Study Committee, the FY 2020 budget appropriates $174,000 within the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA) to hire two school safety threat assessment trainers to work with local school systems to develop threat assessment plans. Lastly, 4-H centers throughout the state would receive $150,000 in bonds for security improvements and $747,600 to contract with local law enforcement to provide security when students are present.

The House emphasized funding for health care in HB 31. In order to provide better access to quality health care in Georgia, the FY 2020 budget includes $78.4 million in the Department of Community Health for Medicaid growth, as well as an additional $68.3 million to replace federal funds in the Medicaid programs due to a reduction in the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage. HB 31 also appropriates $5.9 million for the Medicaid budget for gene therapy drug coverage, $6.8 million for Medicare Part B premiums and $3.2 million to include seven additional long-term acute care hospitals. Furthermore, the budget allocates $500,000 for a Center of Excellence on Maternal Mortality to advance maternal health and more than $1 million for additional maternal health support to screen, refer and treat maternal depression and related behavioral disorders in rural and underserved areas. Georgia has a high rate of maternal mortality, and this appropriation seeks to combat this issue in our state.

The House FY 2020 budget includes funding to tackle the opioid epidemic, which is devastating communities and burdening Georgia’s workforce. The House is fighting back by including $4.9 million for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities to invest further in residential treatment of addictive diseases, which would add six new facilities across the regions in Georgia. The House recognizes an additional $29 million in behavioral health services to increase bed capacity and outpatient services, as well as annualize the cost of crisis centers that serve our communities.

HB 31 adds funding to a variety of programs and projects that assist some of the most vulnerable Georgians. HB 31 includes $1.4 million for home-delivered meals for an additional 665 Georgians and $1.3 million to fund 17 additional adult protective services caseworkers, bringing the total to 172. With more than 13,000 children in the state’s foster care program, we must provide adequate resources for these children. The budget includes $9.8 million for Out of Home Care and $940,000 to implement a pilot program recommended by Governor Brian Kemp that would follow-up on closed foster care cases to continue to look after these children.

Finally, the House’s version of the budget allocates $563,380 to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to help solve the crime lab backlog, $780,690 for six positions for the GBI unit at the Cyber Crime Center and $500,000 to implement a GBI Gang Task Force to help local governments prosecute gang activity. HB 31 also includes an addition of $2.1 million to expand the state’s highly successful accountability courts within the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

In addition to the budget, my colleagues and I passed House Bill 213 in an effort to help Georgia’s farmers.  In response to the enactment of the federal farm bill this past December, which makes growing hemp in the United States legal again, this bipartisan legislation would allow for the cultivation and processing of hemp and hemp products in Georgia and would also authorize colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia to conduct research on hemp. Approved producers would  have to meet specific requirements to obtain permits and would pay an initial fee of $100,000 for a permit and $25,000 annually to renew the permit. The Department of Agriculture would oversee this program and would administer tests to ensure that the hemp grown in-state contains less than .30 percent THC. This will allow Georgia farmers to profit from hemp cultivation and production and compete with the 41 other states that have already created safe and effective avenues to grow and produce hemp.

This week, we overwhelmingly passed another bipartisan bill that would provide greater access to mental health services for all Georgians. If signed into law, House Bill 26 would enter Georgia into the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (Psypact), which is an interstate compact to allow psychologists from other states participating in the compact to use telecommunication technology to practice in multiple states using one license. Under HB 26, an individual admitted to practice under this compact could practice telepsychology and/or temporary face-to-face psychology in Georgia after passing a background check.. HB 26 would  provide greater access to mental health services in rural areas and benefit Georgia schools that do not have fulltime psychologists on staff. HB 26 is an important piece of legislation that reflects the House’s dedication to mental health initiatives this legislative session.

The House also passed two measures this week to protect Georgia children from situations that could hinder their success or jeopardize their safety. First, we passed House Bill 228 to raise the minimum age of marriage in Georgia to 17 years old and require any person who is 17 years old who wishes to be married to provide proof of emancipation by law. This bipartisan measure would protect minors from abusive or exploitive relationships that could become sanctified through a marriage license and allows Georgia to join the growing movement to stop child marriage. Additionally, the House passed the Protecting Military Children Act, which seeks to protect our most vulnerable population from abuse and neglect. HB 64 mirrors similar legislation that has passed in eight other states, and the bill calls for child welfare agencies, such as the Department of Family and Child Services, to notify a military installation’s family advocacy program when there are allegations of child abuse or neglect involving an active-duty military parent or guardian. Requested by the Department of Defense, HB 64 would help the military track these cases across state lines and would create a safeguard for military children.

The “Cross Over Day” deadline is next week, and I encourage you to contact my office with questions or concerns regarding any issues or legislation that may interest you. My Capitol office number is 404-656-5024, and my email address is As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative.

Legislative Update – Week 5 – 2019

My colleagues and I returned to the Capitol on Monday, February 11 for the fifth week of the 2019 legislative session. We are now over one-fourth of the way through, but we still have a great deal of work ahead of us.

The House kicked off the week on Monday with the unanimous passage of House Bill 23 to expand internet access in rural Georgia. HB 23 would allow electric membership corporations (EMCs) and their affiliates to provide broadband services.. Broadband is essential to almost every factor of economic development, and this legislation is a tremendous step in the right direction to help spur economic development in rural Georgia.

The House also passed a bill this week that would provide a pathway for deployment of small cell and 5G technology in public rights-of-way. Over the past seven months, the House has worked with advocates, area experts and local authorities to craft a bill that would support the growing consumer-driven demand for high-speed wireless access while also preserving the ability of our local governments to protect historic districts and community aesthetics. Due to the overwhelming concentration of cellular data in our urban areas, House Bill 184, or the Streamlining Wireless Facilities and Antennas Act, would allow wireless service providers to install “stealthy” small-cell wireless towers throughout cities to offer greater wireless coverage. This groundbreaking technology would eventually deploy 5G streaming services to all of Georgia using small boxes that are attached to utility poles in public areas, providing coverage up to  1,000 feet in any direction of the poles. This legislation would allow our state to move forward in deploying small cell wireless technology on a larger scale to further enhance economic opportunities across our state.

Also this week, my colleagues and I overwhelmingly passed House Bill 62, or “Margie’s Law,” to assist in the early detection and treatment of breast cancer. This bipartisan measure passed by a vote of 166-1 and would require mammography examiners to notify patients when dense breast tissue is found. While dense breast tissue is common and not always abnormal, it can make it more difficult to detect cancer through a mammogram and can increase the risk for breast cancer. Findings show that dense breast tissue is detected during annual exams in at least 40 percent of woman over the age of 40. If signed into law, Georgia would join 30 other states that have passed similar legislation to help save lives from breast cancer.

The House took up another very important measure this week to clarify existing law regarding when drivers can or cannot pass stopped school buses. Senate Bill 25 passed unanimously and clarifies ambiguous language that was enacted as a result of House 978 that passed last year that allowed drivers to pass a stopped school bus when traveling in the opposite direction when a turn lane is present. This caused confusion on the roadways and created safety issues for our school children. SB 25 reduces this risk and protects our school bus riders by making it clear that drivers can only pass a stopped school bus on the other side of the road when the roadways are divided by a grass median, unpaved area or physical barrier. Governor Kemp recognized that swift action was needed to resolve this issue and signed SB 25 into law on Friday, February 15, and the bill went into immediate effect to protect the lives of our children.

Over the last two years, the House has supported Georgia’s brave military service members and our veterans by passing 23 military-friendly bills. To build upon these efforts, we passed House Bill 25 this week to provide financial relief for active duty members of the U.S. military, Georgia National Guard or Georgia Air National Guard. This bipartisan legislation would allow over 100,000 active service members in Georgia to terminate contractual obligations with a provider of subscription services like television, video, and audio programming services; internet access services; or health spa or gym services. To qualify, service members must be on active duty, receive orders of deployment to a location that does not support these same exact services and give a 30 day notice. Inspired by similar legislation implemented in 18 other states, the House has worked alongside federal officials to craft legislation that would alleviate some of the financial burdens for those who protect our great state and country.

The House completed the week on Friday, February 15 by passing House Bill 63 to allow health care providers to request exceptions to step therapy protocols to provide proper medication to patients when it is medically necessary. Currently, insurance companies in Georgia often use step therapy, which is a process that requires a patient to try and fail one or more medications preferred by their insurer before receiving coverage for the medication that their doctor originally prescribed. This bill would allow physicians to submit a step therapy exemption or appeal if the required prescription drug will cause an adverse reaction or physical or mental harm to the patient, is expected to be ineffective, the patient has tried the required prescription drug or the patient’s condition is stable on a prescription drug previously selected by his or her practitioner. HB 63 also ensures that patients would not have to begin a step therapy process for a medication after switching insurance providers.

I welcome you to contact my office with questions or concerns as we make our way through the legislative session. My Capitol office number is 404-656-5024, and my email address is Please contact me anytime.

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative.

Letter to the Editor – Safe and Secure Voting

Dear Editor,

The 2018 election ended months ago, but left-wing radicals continue to flood the airways with wild claims that voting in Georgia is rigged.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Their plan to shatter the confidence in our national elections is built on a lie.

Yes, Georgia needs new and updated voting equipment. Purchased in 2001 by Secretary of State Cathy Cox, the system is secure – but aging.

I have the honor of serving on the Governmental Affairs Committee in the Georgia House of Representatives. We spent many hours reviewing testimony and listening to the public about the need for a modernized safe and secure voting system. One that does provide an auditable paper ballot. After much study and debate, the House of Representatives passed HB 316, a bill that modernizes state elections laws and directs Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office to start a bid process to purchase new voting equipment.

The passage of this sensible legislation sparked an immediate rehashing of the same baseless attacks against our election system and Republicans under the Gold Dome. Even though the individual elections boards across Georgia overwhelmingly support the new system, Democrats hate it, because they know it will be harder for them to cheat and sow seeds of distrust. They are even airing radio ads in Augusta attacking conservative legislator Barry Fleming who authored and carried the bill.

In fact, a new ad by the former gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams, accuses Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia Secretary of State of attempting to steal future elections. Here we go again!

The election is over, and it’s time to govern. I proudly support HB 316, Governor Brian Kemp, and our Secretary of State. Together, we will keep Georgia’s elections secure, accessible, and fair for generations to come.




Rep. Bruce Williamson

Walton County

Legislative Update – Week 3 – 2019

The Georgia General Assembly returned to the Gold Dome on Monday, January 22, for the third week of the 2019 legislative session. This week, we spent more time meeting in our committees to consider proposed legislation. In spite of the weather-related closings across the Atlanta area, the House of Representatives convened as scheduled. By the end of a busy and productive week, a number of bills passed out of their committees, and we completed Legislative Day Seven before nearly one million visitors arrived in Atlanta to celebrate Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, February 3.

This week, the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee held a hearing to consider two bills that came from the Rural Development Committee’s legislative recommendations, House Bills 22 and 23. HB 22 would amend the Rural Telephone Cooperative Act to allow telephone cooperatives to provide, improve or expand broadband services to our rural communities with or without the purchase of a landline. Similarly, HB 23 would allow electric membership corporations (EMCs) and their affiliates to provide broadband services. HB 23 would prohibit cross-subsidization between an EMC’s broadband service and its electric or natural gas services, and yearly audits would be conducted to ensure cross-subsidization does not take place. Additionally, HB 23 would prohibit EMCs from disconnecting broadband service if a customer fails to pay their electric or gas bills or vice versa. After the committee carefully reviewed these bills, HB 22 and HB 23 passed out of the Economic Development and Tourism Committee and are now in the Rules Committee.

Consequently, if these bills are signed into law, EMCs and telephone cooperatives could apply for federal grants and loans for broadband expansion through the USDA’s Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect Program). If enacted, HB 22 and HB 23 could open the door to allow for additional, federal assistance for our rural citizens. As this session continues, I am eager to see these bills and other rural-development related measures make their way through our legislative process so that we can continue to help our rural neighbors.

Not only was this the third week of the 2019 legislative session, but it was also “Super Bowl Week” in Atlanta. The City of Atlanta braced itself for the arrival of an estimated one million visitors for the weeks’ worth of Super Bowl festivities. The expected economic impact that the Super Bowl will have on metro Atlanta and the entire state is estimated between $198 million and $400 million. Georgia’s airports, hotels and local businesses will benefit tremendously from this year’s Super Bowl, and the state as a whole will also benefit from an increase in state and local tax dollars from tourist spending. After the most recent Super Bowl, the Twin Cities area of Minnesota saw close to $32 million in state and local tax revenues. As this year’s host state, Georgia has a unique and exciting opportunity to showcase all of the great things that our state has to offer. Here at the Capitol, we are excited to host a nationally celebrated event that will display the wonderful state that we call home.

I am always delighted to host groups from Walton County, and this week I had the pleasure of having Leadership Walton and Youth Leadership Walton visit me at the Capitol.  Both of these groups, organized by the Walton County Chamber of Commerce, seek to increase the capabilities of our future business and government leaders by exposing them to various aspects of our community such as economic development, public safety, education, non-profits  and government.  I am encouraged by the quality of the group each year, as it is always filled with bright, motivated people who are Walton Proud!

In the coming weeks, House committees and subcommittees will continue to meet more frequently to review proposed bills that could help make Georgia an even greater place to live and work. I encourage you to provide me with your input and thoughts on proposed legislation as I serve you and your family here on Capitol Hill. Please visit my office, which is located inside the Capitol building in room 415-B. You can also reach me by phone at my Capitol office at 404-656-5024 or by email at

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.