Capitol Recap: Week 4
By: Sen. Larry Walker (R - Perry)
The Senate has completed another three legislative days and although the legislative cycle wasn’t as long in comparison to the previous week, that has not stifled any amount of work or progress. Rather, we have been able to accelerate our legislative discussions in a way that has allowed us to hear and pass an even greater number of bills, both in committee meetings and in the Senate Chamber. The work we have been able to accomplish this week is truly indicative of the progress we will be able to achieve in the coming weeks.
Last week, the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Consumer Affairs conducted its first meeting to discuss House Bill 545, the Georgia Right to Farm Act of 2020. During which, we heard testimony from local farmers and agribusiness stakeholders who stated their concerns with the previous and proposed system. In order to create a fair balance between the protection of our industry and the rights of surrounding property owners, committee members and I drafted new adjustments that would help clarify the language of the bill and its intentions. Under the modifications, a nuisance claim cannot be filed against an agricultural facility by a property owner unless: the property is located within five miles of the nuisance, the claim occurs within two years of an established date of operation and the action is filed within two years after the right of action ensues. As wonderfully stated by Rep. Tom McCall (R – Elberton), our job as elected officials is to protect our state’s family farmers. They have made large personal sacrifices in order to give back to our economy through the production and sale of dairy, produce, poultry and more. It is our duty to protect them from any kind of undue harm to their business and livelihood, and I am confident HB 545 does that.
Relative to the notion of honoring those who serve our state, members of the Senate presented Senate Resolution 648 to recognize February 4, 2020 as Firefighters Recognition Day at the Capitol. This is an event that happens annually, yet in no way reaches the magnitude of impact our firefighter’s have on the lives of Georgians and their property. These individuals selflessly risk their lives every day and are some of the truest examples of heroism. With their efforts, more Georgia families are able to stay together and communities are able to thrive. I would like to extend a personal thank you to the 30,000 firefighters right here in Georgia; thank you for your service, courage and dedication to public safety.
One of the biggest pieces of legislation we passed this week is Senate Resolution 712 which sets the adjournment calendar from now until Crossover Day on Thursday, March 12, 2020. As part of that established calendar, the General Assembly will not reconvene until Tuesday, February 18, 2020, in order to give members sufficient time to discuss budget proposals. We have a heavy task ahead of ourselves as we must prioritize which programs in our state agencies will receive the largest amount of funding and which ones will receive cuts. Our state is strong and growing, but we must ensure it continues to do so in a way that does not neglect certain Georgians. I will highlight some of the main themes of our discussions next week, but in doing so, I also want you to know my office will always be open for input and feedback. I look forward to continuing to serve you.
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Sen. Larry Walker serves as Caucus Vice Chairman for the Majority Party. He represents the 20th Senate District, which includes Bleckley, Houston, Laurens and Pulaski counties. He may be reached by phone at (404) 656-0095 or by email at email@example.com.