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Senate amends budget to give raises to LEOs
Legislative report
Ben Watson
Dr. Ben Watson represents part of Liberty County in the Georgia Senate. - photo by File photo

It was a very busy and productive week at the state capitol as we are nearing the halfway mark this legislative session. We deliberated legislation this week that could affect certain business practices, the economy and healthcare in Georgia. With each decision I carefully considered the impact on your family and future for the betterment of our community.

The intricate process of amending the budget for fiscal year 2017 was completed as the Senate passed HB 43, which is now on Governor Deal’s desk for his signature. The bill approved Governor Deal’s proposal to add $27.2 million in salary increases for law enforcement officers, as well as an additional $5 million for the Governor’s Emergency Fund to be used in state crisis situations such as destruction caused by severe storms. If you would like to read this bill or any legislation in its entirety the website is

I am pleased to report that a bill I sponsored and mentioned in a previous update passed the Senate. SB 16 would allow low THC to be used by patients with autism disorder. Autism affects thousands of Georgians and initial evidence shows that low THC is having a positive effect on suffering patients. In fact, parents of autistic patients have reported that previously non-communicative children began speaking after being treated with low THC. It is my hope that this bill becomes law so that people across our state can have access to this treatment and experience its benefits.

SB 89, the Georgia Right Track Act, passed the Senate this week, and will have great economic value to the Savannah harbor and to the State of Georgia. This bill would implement a freight rail program to improve the current rail system. A better statewide railway would significantly relieve freight traffic congestion on our roads and highways and allow cargo to be transported more efficiently. This is good legislation that would have a positive ripple effect across our state.

Senate Bill 3 unanimously passed this week, legislation I wholeheartedly support. Entitled "Creating Opportunities Needed Now to Expand Credentialed Training" Act, also referred to as "CONNECT", this bill would encourage industries and high schools to participate in credentialing programs so that students could earn certified industry credentials while in school, particularly in the areas of technical and agricultural programs. This legislation would allow high school students more job options after graduation and it is always good for businesses to invest in the lives of the next generation.

A bill passed which would require durable medical equipment suppliers to be licensed by the Georgia State Board of Pharmacy (GSBP). SB 41 also states that medical equipment suppliers must meet all safety requirements outlined by the GSBP and that the license would be effective for 36 months. I support this bill because it provides a protective measure for those using medical equipment and encourages good business practices.

As we continue the session your input is important to me and I encourage you to contact me with your concerns and questions. I can be reached at or at 404-656-7880. Thank you for placing your trust in me and allowing me to serve you!

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