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GOOCH: Honoring District 51 at the State Capitol


March 15, 2013
One of the best parts about serving in the Georgia State Senate is the ability to honor groups and individuals in the Senate chamber. I am proud to represent District 51 at the State Capitol, and I am even more proud of the efforts that keep our district one of the best places to work and raise a family in Georgia. While the work we do in the Senate is great, it pales in comparison to the way each of you represents the pride and labors of our communities.

Those honored in the Senate chamber are presented with resolutions that commemorate the awards or work performed by the group or individuals being recognized. Some resolutions are co-sponsored by several senators, especially those recognizing the efforts of a statewide program or initiative. Each group or individual is given a few minutes at the podium to tell the chamber more about their work or to thank the Senate for the acknowledgement before taking an official photo with the Lieutenant Governor and the sponsoring senator(s)—which you can view on the Georgia State Senate website (www.legis.ga.gov) or Facebook page (www.facebook.com/GeorgiaStateSenate).

This past week, I was honored to recognize two groups from District 51 with Senate resolutions. The Dahlonega Women's Club was honored with SR 437 for their 100th anniversary and their dedication to individual and community improvement. Neil McBrayer, a Forsyth County school bus driver, was honored with SR 120 for being ranked as the fourth safest driver during the National School Transportation Association's School Bus Driver International Safety Competition.

Of course, one of the most important tasks performed by the Georgia State Senate is analyzing and passing legislation that benefits the livelihood of all Georgians. Now that we are past Day 30 of the 40-day legislative session, the Senate is only reviewing and voting on House bills. All Senate bills that did not pass the chamber before Day 30 will not be considered again until the 2014 legislative session.

The following House bills passed the Senate last week:

HB 154 changes provisions relating to awards and benefits of workers' compensation by providing a limitation period on medical benefits, changing reimbursement structures for mileage charges, and increasing the compensation benefits for total disability and temporary partial disability.

HB 198 sets the framework for the licensing of navigators who will provide insurance advice and guidance to uninsured individuals and groups seeking health insurance coverage under a health insurance exchange. HB 198 lists the requirements for a navigator's license and prohibits a navigator from soliciting a person or business currently insured under an existing health benefit plan.

HB 202 increases the cost limit for value engineering studies performed by the Department of Transportation. Value engineering studies are important because the results assist in improving project efficiency, safety and functionality. This bill excludes interstates and freight corridors from Congressional balances.

HB 234 requires clear notifications for automatic renewals of service contracts. This bill applies to any seller that sells, leases, or offers to sell or lease any service to a consumer under a service contract.

HB 254 would allow drivers to produce proof of required minimum motor vehicle liability insurance coverage in either paper or electronic format. Under HB 254, drivers would be able to provide proof of coverage by pulling records up on their smart phones or tablets.

HB 487 would transfer video poker machines into an operator-run, computer-networked video lottery program regulated by the Georgia Lottery. HB 487 is intended to be a crackdown on illegal gambling and to provide funds for HOPE scholarship. The bill would increase enforcement and penalties for illegal coin gambling but does not legalize any additional gambling.

It's hard to believe we are already looking towards the end of the 2013 legislative session. There is only one more week until Day 40 on March 28, and it is very rare that we Sine Die before Easter. There are still lots of good bills left to be heard, meaning it will be very busy in the upcoming days. Please contact my office at any time if I can help with information about a bill, district concerns or even a visit to the State Capitol.

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