Sen. Robertson - Legislative Update - Week 8
Wednesday, March 13th, 2019
With the completion of the 28th legislative day, I can officially say I have survived my first “Crossover Day” as a state Senator. This marks the first real deadline of the session as all Senate bills wishing to be signed by the Governor had to be passed in our chamber before heading to the House for consideration. All in all, 68 pieces of legislation were heard on the Senate floor this week, though not all the measures passed.
Harris County was one of the counties hit hardest during last week's storm and the Governor declared a State of Emergency in a effort to help us with clean up. Theresa and I were home this weekend, assisting with the clean up process and were overwhelmed by several things. The first being that we live in an incredible community. Harris County and the surrounding area is full of people who love their neighbors and we saw that first hand as trucks poured in from all over to load up debris, clean up yards, and clear right of ways. We want to thank those who joined us bright and early on Saturday morning, with a special thanks to Lonnie and Merit Alexander for sending large equipment out! The second was how fortunate we were as a community. We suffered no loss of life, which is truly a miracle. After seeing first hand the incredible amount of damage that was done and hearing the stories from folks who were in the immediate path, it is truly an emotional realization of how God's hand was protecting our friends and families. We will be organizing more weekends for clean up in the near future, so be on the lookout.
Our hearts and prayers are with those in Lee County who are still grieving immeasurable loss.
Chaplain of the Day
It was an honor and privilege to have our pastor, Dr. Jimmy Elder, with us as Chaplain of the Day. Theresa and I are grateful for his guidance in our lives and it was a joy to share him with my colleagues in the Senate.
SB 208 - Implied Consent
Senate Bill 208 would revise current implied consent notice to remove the term “breath.” Recently, the Supreme Court of Georgia made a ruling that the refusal to take a breathalyzer test in suspected cases of DUI could not be used against you in court. SB 208 would amend the script of the implied consent notice, which is read by a law enforcement officer to those suspected of driving under the influence, by clarifying that only a refusal to submit blood or urine can be used against them in court. Basically, this is bringing the Supreme Court decision down to the local level and applying it to the rights law enforcement officers read to those suspected of this crime.
SB 149 - Dealing with Improper Tag Decals
Senate Bill 149 would remove the requirement that law enforcement officers must tow a vehicle that has been pulled over for improper tag decals. It would also set the maximum fine for a tag violation fine at $50, as long as the offender can show proof of tag revalidation before their court date. As a career law enforcement officer, I have seen first-hand how towing a person’s car for having an expired revalidation sticker – as well as high fines for improper decals – does not solve the issue. Simple traffic violations like a speeding, failure to signal or not wearing a seat belt usually require a fine to be paid. This bill will put improper tag decals on par with those violations.
This bill survived crossover day and has passed out of the House Committee. It will now go to House Rules committee.
SB 95 - Contract Terms for Electric Cities
Last week, I presented Senate Bill 95 to the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries and Utilities. This bill extends the term that local authorities, cities and counties can contract for utilities dealing with Solar and Wind resources. It states that all three can contract utilities for 20 years rather than the current law’s limit of ten years. The measure would level the playing field for Electric Cities and municipalities in regards to economic development. SB 95 will immediately effect Troup County and help our newest solar project, The Ray.
SB 148 - Requiring all Passengers to Wear Seatbelts
I presented Senate Bill 148 which would require all passengers in a car to wear a seat belt, not just the passengers in the front of the vehicle. I have seen numerous fatalities in accidents that could have been prevented by the use of a seat belt and think that this bill would go a long way in helping keep passengers safe and arrive alive.
SB 170 - Honor and Remember
Senate Bill 170 would allow local governments to display the “Honor and Remember” flag in dedication of armed service men and women who died in the line of duty. SB 170 designates acceptable days and locations on which the flag should be displayed. As a district that is home to so many service men and women, I am glad we will have this flag to remind us of the sacrifice thousands of people have made to allow us to enjoy life in the land of the free.
SB 15 - Keeping Georgia's Schools Safe Act
The Senate passed Senate Bill 15, the “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act.” This bill is the result of a lot of hard work and research by my colleagues on the Senate Study Committee on School Safety. The bill would streamline communication efforts between schools and necessary emergency services and would require that schools conduct a threat assessment every four years. SB 15 also requires the use of a statewide mobile application to report potential safety threats. I am so proud to be a part of a body that prioritizes Georgia’s most valuable asset—our children.
Broadband for Rural Georgia
Three Senate bills included in the broadband expansion package passed this week which will bring rural Georgia one step closer to having fast, reliable internet. Specifically, Senate Bill 2 would enable Georgia’s 41 Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs) to provide internet services and broadband to their customers directly or indirectly through a broadband affiliate. Under SB 2, EMCs would be prohibited from cross subsidizing their broadband services with any other services they provide and the Georgia Public Service Commission would handle any disputes between the EMCs and companies they work with to provide broadband services.
District Kids at the Capitol
These two young men are incredible of examples of what our future will be and our future is bright. Spen Oliver (Harris County High School) and Alex King (Carver High School) are both exceptional, charismatic, kind, bright, and people we can count on to keep us on an upward trajectory. If you don't know them, trust me, you want to.
Welcoming RailRoad Engineers
Railroad Engineers from all over District 29 and the State at large came to the Capitol as we presented a bill that would mandate Whistle Boards at all crossings, private and public. The measure would ensure the safety of both our engineers and the public at large, especially in our more rural areas. We went before the Transportation Committee twice and while our bill was not voted on, the measure is still alive and something we will continue to work towards next session.
Home School Issues at the Capitol
Two weeks ago, my mother-in-law, Beth Garcia, came to Atlanta to testify in front of the Senate Committee on Education and Youth regarding the "Tebow Bill" that would allow Home Schoolers to participate in extra-curricular activities at the school they are zoned for in their community. I was so proud to have her representing the homeschoolers in our district and across the state. Late last week, the bill made it to the Senate Floor where it was passed after some debate. We are excited to see it go to the House for further review and are hopeful that the measure will make it to the Governor's desk. Many thanks to Senator Bruce Thompson for carrying the bill and fighting hard for home school families across our great state.
Visits from folks at home is truly the highlight of each day! It was great to see our Pre-K Teacher of the Year from Harris County and Harris County Commissioner Susan Andrews. We welcomed the Burnhams and the Spears last week, as well. Please come visit and make sure you let us know you are coming.
Columbus Day at the Capitol
I was proud to welcome folks from Columbus to the Capitol on March 5. They were recognized on both the House and Senate floor and greeted by Governor Kemp. Later in the day, Columbus hosted a fantastic reception and entertained elected officials from across Georgia, showing off all the incredible things our city has to offer!
We loved having Andrea and Josh Ligon from Harris County with us on
Friday of last week! Thanks for working with us!
As we move into the latter part of session, there are a number of issues that I know are important to the folks in District 29. I welcome and encourage your input. Please send me an email - firstname.lastname@example.org - or call the office (404.463.3931). Please know that each email is read and your opinion is documented. The same for voicemails and messages left with Tarika, my administrative assistant. I look forward to continuing to hear from each of you and am grateful to represent a community that is so engaged.
Theresa and I were honored to attend the American Cancer Society's Crystal Ball this past weekend. We are so proud of our friend, Shannon Smallman, and the hard work she and her committee put into honoring our other friend and cancer survivor, Traci Kalish. We have all be effected by cancer at some point. We have lost numerous family members and friends to cancer and our hope is that we can continue to work towards a cure for this horrible disease.