• Day 29 (Monday, March 5): In an effort to reach out to those who have opposed legislation dealing with solar power that I am sponsoring, I invited representatives from Georgia Power to meet with me this morning. Afterward, I met with a student from Georgia State University to discuss the future of the HOPE Scholarship and to listen to his concerns and suggestions.
Going into session today, we had 16 bills on the calendar. We moved quickly through most of the bills only to run into a controversial bill that we spent two or three hours debating. SB 458 requires applicants for post-secondary education public benefits to have their lawful presence verified. It’s also known as the Prohibition of Illegal Immigrants from Georgia Colleges bill. As responsible public servants, we faced the issue and, after a full three hours of debate, the bill passed. We also passed SB 288, which will allow pharmacists and nurses to administer other vaccines besides the influenza vaccine. It restricts pharmacists and nurses from administering any vaccine to a person younger than 19 without an individual prescription. Another somewhat controversial bill is SB 355, the Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting bill, which requires a person who witnesses child abuse — or receives reliable information from a person who has witnessed child abuse — to report the abuse.
The only bill I had on the calendar was SB 416, which requires the insurance commissioner to adopt standards for e-prior authorization requests between benefits managers and health-care providers that are consistent with those adopted by the National Council of Prescription Drug Programs. I am pleased that the bill passed overwhelmingly.
• Day 30 (Wednesday, March 7): As is customary during our 40-day session, we took the day off between the 29th and 30th days in order to prepare for the long and arduous 30th day, known as Crossover Day. This is the day on which bills must pass at least one chamber in order to be considered during this session.
Going into session this morning, we had 28 bills and five resolutions on the calendar.
One of the bills we passed corrects an oversight with the availability of license plates issued to Purple Heart recipients. Currently, only retirees may receive the license plate, but SB 473 will allow medal recipients who currently are serving on active duty or in the reserves to receive the Purple Heart plates.
We took up SB 459, which allows consumers to opt out of using “smart meters.” The bill passed, 37-13, with an amendment prohibiting any charge for the removal of the meters. Many bills, such as SB 312, which requires food stamp recipients to engage in “professional development,” and SB 292, which requires Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients to take drug tests to receive benefits, create controversy. Both bills eventually passed.
Mercifully, as the clock strikes 10:39 p.m., we adjourn and Crossover Day is history.
Carter can be reached by phone at 404-656-5109 or at the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, room 301-A, Atlanta, Ga., 30334.