By: Sen. Burt Jones (R – Jackson)

The fifth week of the 2018 Legislative session came and went very quickly. The Senate saw many bills presented and voted on and I was pleased with the support on both sides of the aisle for many pieces of legislation that were addressed.

Wednesday, legislative day 17, was a busy day in the Senate. I sponsored Senate Resolution 658 which recognized February 7, 2018, as National Girls and Women in Sports Day at the state Capitol. The National Girls and Women in Sports Day began in 1987 as a day to remember former Olympic volleyball player, Flo Hyman, for her commitment to ensuring equality for women’s sports. In addition to sponsoring the resolution, I had several special guests join me on the Senate floor. Former University of Georgia gymnast Dr. Heather McCormick helped me speak to the resolution, and we also recognized young female athletes from across Georgia for their hard work and dedication to their preferred sport.

Day 17 was also known as “Healthcare Day” as the three bills that were presented and passed all revolved around healthcare. Senate Bill 118 passed with a vote of 50-3 and would require medical insurers to provide coverage for children ages 12 and younger who are receiving treatment for autism spectrum disorder. This is a bill that I have seen a lot in my years as a Senator and as chairman of the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. I am happy that this legislation passed the Senate and I am hopeful it will receive favorable consideration in the House for the many families and children in Georgia who would benefit from this legislation.

SB 352 passed unanimously and begins to address the opioid addiction crisis that has swept our state. The legislation would create the Commission on Substance Abuse and Recovery and an Executive Director of Substance Abuse, Addiction and Related Disorders. In addition to the commission it creates, SB 352 also established a partnership with providers and communities across Georgia to prohibit patient brokering, which is a problem that must be addressed.

The last bill to pass on day 17 was SB 357, also known as the HEALTH Act. The bill establishes two new health care initiatives: the Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the state of Georgia and the Health System Innovation Center. Both of these programs will help streamline Georgia’s current health care systems and break down any barriers between state agencies, academic institutions and the private sector.

As we move into the next several days, I am eager to see how Sen. Steve Gooch’s broadband bill will move through the legislative process. Senate Bill 402, also known as the Achieving Connectivity Everywhere (ACE) Act, addresses bringing high-speed broadband access to rural parts of the state. With many of my constituents living in rural areas, I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on ensuring this legislation passes this session. As this legislation moves through the process, I will keep you updated on any significant changes.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any comments, questions or concerns about legislation, my door is always open.

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