Legislative Update – Week 3

On Monday, January 27, the General Assembly returned to the Gold Dome for the third week of the 2020 legislative session.       It was a busy and productive week where we heard the results of key study committees and had several visitors from Walton County.

Each year, I am honored to host Leadership Walton for their day at the Capitol.  New classes of emerging leaders are selected to study civic issues in our community so they can be prepared to lead our community going forward in both the adult and youth programs.  This week, they met with our legislative delegation, heard from committee chairs and department directors and had a chance to meet Governor Brian Kemp.

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A large group from Monroe First United Methodist Church visited this week.  It was such a blessing to be surrounded by my fellow worshippers and know that they are praying for the success of our great State.

We began our legislative work this week with reports from study committees, councils and commissions who have been working throughout the year while we are not in session. House Resolution 37 was adopted last session establishing the Georgia Commission on Freight & Logistics for the 2019 calendar year. The commission was authorized to analyze and recommend comprehensive public policy that would support our freight and logistics industries, including our distribution centers in Walton County.  House Resolution 214 reauthorized the House Rural Development Council to improve economic opportunities in rural areas of the state. Finally, House Resolution 589 was adopted in 2019 to create the House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality to study issues that impact maternal health. Each of these groups issued in-depth final reports that included policy recommendations, which will guide us as we craft sound and effective legislation this session.

This week, the Joint House and Senate Transportation Committee approved the Georgia Commission on Freight & Logistics’ final report and legislative recommendations. The commission’s proposal seeks to address workforce development, truck parking, freight rail investment and funding gaps, and recommended that their work be extended through 2020.The House Transportation Committee approved House Resolution 935 this week, which would reauthorize the commission for the 2020 calendar year. If this resolution is adopted by the House and Senate, the commission would spend the next year further exploring the challenges and opportunities for change for Georgia’s freight movement and mobility.

The House Transportation Committee approved another important legislative measure this week that was a recommendation of the Georgia Commission on Freight & Logistics. House Bill 820 would establish the Georgia Freight Railroad Program within the Department of Transportation (DOT), and this vital program would enhance the state’s investment in our freight rail system, which handles approximately 27 percent of all freight in Georgia. I am eager to see this measure make its way through the legislative process so that we can continue to improve these infrastructures in our state.

The House Rural Development Council also submitted several legislative recommendations supporting our agriculture industry, which is one of our state’s largest industries, as well as expanding funding for rural broadband. The council also proposed solutions for providing adequate health care by creating tax incentives for rural physicians and developing a state-funded residency program to bring health care workers to rural areas.

Members of the House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality’s final report includes strategies such as extending Georgia’s Medicaid coverage for pregnant and postpartum women and mandating a postmortem examination for any maternal death. The study committee also seeks to increase accessibility to health care through telehealth services. Maternal health will remain a top priority in the House during the 2020 session, and these recommendations will guide us as we focus our legislative efforts to prevent maternal mortality.

Members of the House observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday, January 27, 2020, which marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. This powerful day commemorates the catastrophic genocide that resulted in the deaths of 6 million Jews and 11 million others. To honor the lives that were lost during the Holocaust, the General Assembly passed legislation during the 2019 session to create a memorial in the State Capitol. Members of the General Assembly, along with Israel Consul General Anat Sultan-Dadon, joined together to unveil the new memorial this week. My colleagues and I also recognized International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the House chamber and adopted a resolution to in recognition of this day. This tribute in the State Capitol will serve as an important reminder that we should never forget the events of the Holocaust, and it will educate Georgia citizens to help ensure that such atrocities are never committed again.

Lastly, on Thursday, January 30, Gov. Kemp signed the first major piece of legislation of the 2020 session. House Bill 276 was passed via a conference committee report during the first week of session and allows the state to collect taxable revenue from marketplace facilitators whose online platforms or apps are used to sell goods or services in excess of $100,000 or more annually. This new law will go into effect on April 1 and will help level the playing field for small brick-and-mortar businesses that currently have sale tax charged to their products.

Next week is sure to be even busier at the State Capitol as we enter into the fourth week of the legislative session. My colleagues and I will continue to take up meaningful legislation in our committees and on the House floor in the coming weeks, so I encourage you to provide me with your input and thoughts on any proposed legislation that is important to you. You are always welcome to visit my Capitol office, which is located at 415-B State Capitol, anytime. You can also reach me at my Capitol office at 404-656-5024 or by email at bruce.williamson@house.ga.gov.

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

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