Capitol Recap: Week Eight
By: Sen. Larry Walker (R – Perry)
Monday, March 6 marks Legislative Day 28, also known as Crossover Day. As the Senate closes its doors on week eight of the 2023 Legislative Session, my fellow colleagues and I continue to remain steadfast in our efforts to pass effective and beneficial legislation as we gear up for the start of next week. With over 70 measures eligible for consideration on the floor on Monday, we have officially entered the home stretch towards Sine Die. With such an eventful week ahead of us, here is a recap of legislation of note that received passage this week.
Senate Bill 106, legislation I brought to your attention last week, passed in the Senate on Thursday with unanimous bipartisan support. As previously reported, SB 106 seeks to establish a three-year pilot program administered through the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) aimed at providing remote patient monitoring for expectant mothers under Medicaid. Known as the “Healthy Babies Act,” SB 106 seeks to address our ongoing concern with maternal and infant mortality in Georgia. 53% of Georgia’s 159 counties have little or no local access to adequate maternity care and 78 Georgia counties don’t have a licensed OBGYN. I am grateful to receive such overwhelming support from my Senate colleagues as we explore the use of technology, telehealth, mobile sonagram services and in-home nurse visits to address the issue of limited maternal healthcare availability in rural communities across Georgia. I am eager to provide you with additional updates on this legislation as it now makes its way to the House for consideration.
Continuing on the subject of rural communities, many of us have become concerned with the growing trend of foreign adversaries of the United States purchasing our countries farmland and land near our military installations. To address this, Sen. Brandon Beach (R – Alpharetta) brought Senate Bill 132 to the floor for a vote this week. Aimed at maintaining national security, which includes food security, and protecting Georgia’s agriculture industry, SB 132 prohibits any organization or entity that is not a registered U.S. citizen who is a subject of a foreign government designated by the United States Secretary of State as a Country of Particular Concern from buying or owning Georgia farmland or Georgia land within a 25-mile radius of any military base. As you well know, Agriculture is Georgia’s number one industry and in 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated roughly 12,000 acres of U.S. farmland was owned by a foreign government. Today, that figure has increased to over 260,000 acres. It is imperative that we protect our number one industry and its farmers. I was pleased to support this measure with hopes that these efforts will provide tightened security for our state and nation and protect our leading industry.
Looking ahead to next week, I am eager to bring Senate Bill 195 to the floor for a vote. SB 195, known as the “Freedom to Work Act,” has been assigned to the Senate Rules calendar for Crossover Day. SB 195 is a product of the combined efforts of the Georgia Joint Defense Commission and seeks to address the issue of occupational licensing for military spouses. Specifically, military spouses who were issued an occupational license from another state. While Georgia continues to excel in workforce development, it is inevitable that in order to maintain that standard, a large percentage of Georgia’s workforce will include out of state licensees. Currently, Georgia is ranked by the Institute for Justice as having the 12th most burdensome occupational licensing regimen for blue collar trades and essential workers such as first responders, medical specialists, and nurses. SB 195 would allow service members and their spouses to utilize their military certification, work experience, or licenses acquired in another state to get an expedited license in Georgia. It is my hope that with this legislation, we will be able to properly equip Georgia’s growing workforce and supply our working professionals with increase accessibility to continue their employment endeavors, without unnecessary bureaucratic delay, and bolster Georgia’s economy. I look forward to bringing this measure to the Senate floor on Monday and will be ready to provide you with updates on the bill in the near future.
I anticipate the next week of legislative days will continue to be extremely busy as we move closer to the adjournment of the 2023 Legislative Session. As always, if you ever have any questions or concerns regarding legislation, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office. It is an honor to continue to serve you under the Gold Dome.