News Room 2014
Sen. William Ligon and Lt. Governor Cagle Welcome Pastor Bill Ligon as Chaplain of the Day
ATLANTA (March 7, 2014) | Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle welcomed Pastor Bill Ligon, to serve as Chaplain of the Day on Friday in the Georgia State Senate.
“It was an honor to have my father address the Senate this morning,” said Sen. Ligon. “He spoke to us about how we must seek the wisdom and guidance of God and implement His will in everything we do as leaders.”
“Today, we welcomed Pastor Bill Ligon to the Senate as he inspired each of us with a stirring devotional and prayer,” said Lt. Governor Casey Cagle. “As public servants, we should strive not only to hear the word of the Lord at the beginning of each Senate gathering, but to put it in practice with the decisions we make. We are blessed to have wonderful clergy leaders like Pastor Ligon and I thank him for the inspirational message."
Pastor Ligon has pastored the Christian Renewal Church, Brunswick, GA since its founding in 1973. Prior to pastoring First Baptist Church in Brunswick, he pastored the Lee Street Baptist Church, in Valdosta, GA and the First Baptist Church, Madison, FL.
A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Pastor Ligon served in the U.S. Navy in the Korean Conflict. He holds a B.A. degree from Carson Newman College and the M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Dorothy Jean also served for six years in Spain with the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is the author of two books, Discipleship, The Jesus View and Imparting Blessing to Your Children.
Two Days Left in the 2014 Legislative Session
March 17, 2014
The Georgia General Assembly is in the very last days of the 2014 Legislative Session. While many people refer to the last day as Day 40, it is also known as Sine Die.
With only two days remaining in this year’s session, the General Assembly will work carefully to consider a number of House bills before they achieve final passage on the Senate floor and head to the Governor’s office. Here is a look at some of the bills passed this last week.
HB 153 authorizes local governments to propose Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes (SPLOST) of less than one cent. This fractional penny SPLOST will not apply to education local option sales taxes.
HB 658 ends the Georgia estate tax, more commonly known as the “death tax,” and any requirements for related estate tax returns on July 1, 2014. Currently in Georgia, any property or assets transferred to others at the time of death is taxed on the fair market values of the item or property.
Georgia Senate Completes Crossover Day
March 3, 2014
Members of the Georgia Senate worked diligently to pass legislation on Day 30, which is also known as Crossover Day. At this time, all proposed legislation must pass its chamber of origination to still be considered a ‘live’ bill during the 2014 Legislative Session. Because this is a biennial year, all bills that did not pass the Senate on Crossover Day on March 3rd will not return to committee and must be re-introduced during the 2015 session.
Under Georgia law, the House and Senate must pass identical versions of a bill. Often this requires many committee meetings and amendments to the bill from both sides of the legislature. This is an important process to allow for the careful vetting of bills before they head to the Governor’s desk for final approval.
The Georgia Senate also gave final approval to the FY 2014 Amended Budget recently, and the bill was immediately transferred to the Governor for his signature. On Thursday, the Senate came one step closer to fulfilling our constitutionally-mandated duty of passing a balanced state budget, appropriating $20.8 billion for the FY 2015 General Budget.
Georgia Senate Passes Bill to Withdraw from National “Common Core” Standards
ATLANTA (February 25, 2014) | The Georgia Senate passed Senate Bill 167 today by a vote of 34-16. Sponsored by Sen. William Ligon (R - Brunswick), this legislation provides an approach for withdrawing from the national education standards known as “Common Core” and specifies new protections for student privacy.
"Passage of this bill today represents the hard work of many people over the course of two years. This bill is the first major piece of legislation that has passed anywhere in the nation that has allowed the voice of the people to clearly say that national standards are unacceptable," stated Sen. Ligon. "This bill draws the line in the sand that Georgia will no longer be bound by national standards or the testing of national standards or be obligated to special interests. The people of Georgia, through this legislation, finally can begin to reclaim their educational sovereignty over what their children are taught in public schools. Georgia citizens should never again be shut out of the process as they were when the Common Core was ushered into this state."
"I want to thank the many citizens around the state and people in leadership who have been willing to come to the table and work with me on this legislation. There is quite a long list of people, but I personally am indebted to my friend, Sen. Lindsey Tippins, the Senate Education Chairman, who has stood with me the entire way. I appreciate Governor Nathan Deal and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, along with their staff, who have reached out to me and were willing to offer assistance with the bill. I also appreciate House leadership working on the bill in advance and look forward to it being passed in the House of Representatives."
SB 167 helps returns control to Georgia’s citizens by creating an open and transparent public process for the adoption of content standards. The process will include a 90 -day open comment period and public debate in each of the congressional districts throughout the state. In addition, an 17-member Curriculum Content Standards Advisory Council, composed of parents, university professors, K-12 teachers, and other citizens along with additional working subcommittees of K-12 teachers, curriculum specialists, and other knowledgeable citizens, will review public input and make recommendations on the standards to the State School Board. The effort will begin with math standards, so that those standards are completed in one year's time.
February 21, 2014
After suspending business last week for the severe winter weather that hit northern portions of our state, the Georgia General Assembly was back at work and busier than ever this past week. On Friday, February 21, the legislature fulfilled day 26 of the 2014 session, which means Day 30, or Crossover Day, is right around the corner. This important milestone in the legislative process marks the last day that a bill can pass to the opposite chamber.
Throughout the week, the Georgia General Assembly held a series of appropriations meetings to discuss our state’s budgetary concerns and conducted a careful line-by-line review of our state’s Fiscal Year 2015 General Budget. The Appropriations Committee will soon give its report to the Senate at which time we will vote on the Governor's proposed budget recommendations.
Economic Policies That Do Not Add Up
February 5, 2014
Raising the minimum wage and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, are two hot-button topics being heavily debated among news networks, Democratic strategists and social networking feeds across the nation.
Supporters of raising the minimum wage continue to perpetuate the idea that increasing worker salaries will serve as the magic pill to alleviate our nation’s poverty levels and income disparity. However, studies suggest otherwise. Raising the minimum wage, on either the state or federal level, will not reduce poverty, stimulate the economy or meet any of the expectations proponents claim. Let’s take a closer look at how raising the minimum wage could adversely affect our state and national economy.
The minimum wage issue does not affect as many Americans as commonly believed. According to the Heritage Foundation, only 2.9 percent of minimum wage workers (hourly and salaried) earn the federal minimum wage or less. The majority of these earners are aged 16 -24 and are not solely responsible for the management of their household. Only 4 percent are single parents working full-time.
Georgia General Assembly Convenes
January 13, 2014
From reports out of the House and Senate leadership, this may be the quickest session ever. Due to a federal judge's ruling regarding federal elections, Georgia has moved its primary season up to May 20th. This is about two months earlier than normal. Therefore, legislators who are facing primary opponents, as well as those in the executive branch, will be anxious to return home in order to campaign.
While in session, we will pass the state budget. That is the one constitutional duty that we must accomplish. As I understand from leadership, they are hoping to keep the session moving smoothly without a lot of controversial legislation. Unfortunately, I have at least two pieces of legislation that are still pending which will be considered controversial. These bills, SB 167 and SB 203, work together to ensure that Georgia has an orderly withdrawal from the Common Core standards and the national framework that has been driving educational policy in our state. In addition, I also have several more bills that I plan to introduce. With the looming political reality of May primaries, it remains to be seen how the leadership will deal with the volume of legislation that already is pending as well as the many bills that I know my colleagues are starting to file at the start of the session.
January 30, 2014
As a result of the severe winter storm that hit portions of Northern Georgia this week, the Georgia General Assembly did not convene as regularly scheduled. Lt. Governor Casey Cagle gaveled in at 10 a.m.as required by state law, but no committee meetings or other state business was conducted until Friday morning.
Throughout the committee process, numerous groups and interested stakeholders testified in favor of the bill. The additional 78 acres designated by this bill is to be used in the follow ways: (1) 12 acres for the expansion of the existing campground, which is turning away individuals daily due to lack of space; (2) 46 acres to be used for public health, public safety or public recreation and; (3) 20 acres to be available for unrestricted uses in the future.
Senate Bill 296, along with its companion in the House, House Bill 715, has received broad support from the local community, including the Jekyll-Island State Park Authority, Green Law and the Georgia Conservancy - just to name a few. This bill will serve to protect our community’s natural resources and extend recreational opportunities for the people who call Jekyll Island home and the millions of tourists that visit the island each year.
Sen. William Ligon Earns 100% Voting Record on Small Business Issues
ATLANTA (August 22, 2014) | Sen. William Ligon (R - Brunswick) was recognized by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) for his pro-business voting record during the 2013-14 legislative sessions. NFIB awarded Sen. Ligon with a 100% rating due to his strong support of small business issues. NFIB is Georgia’s leading small-business association with over 7,500 dues-paying members representing a cross section of the state’s economy.
Sen. William Ligon Appointed to Senate Study Committees
ATLANTA (June 19, 2014) - Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle selects Sen. William Ligon (R- Brunswick) to serve on the Senate Unified Courts Technology Study Committee and the Senate Long-Term Aquifer Storage Senate Study Committee. Each committee must report its findings on or before December 1, 2014.
“I am pleased to be appointed to serve on these important study committees by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle,” said Sen. Ligon. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to improve the lives of Georgians throughout the state - especially the citizens of the 3rd Senate District.”
“I’m happy to appoint Senator William Ligon to these study committees and look forward to thoroughly evaluating their findings,” said Lt. Governor Casey Cagle. “Senator Ligon has been a leader on these issues, and I’m thankful he’s lending his time and expertise to the important work this committee will perform.”
The Senate Unified Courts Technology Study Committee was created by the passage of Senate Resolution 986 during the 2014 legislative session. As stated in the resolution, the committee will be composed of seven members. The Senate Unified Courts Technology Study Committee will specifically review the cost and feasibility of making necessary improvements to state and local information technology systems used by Georgia’s judiciary system - a recommendation that was made by the Senate Expungement Study Committee in 2013.
The Senate Long-Term Aquifer Storage Senate Study Committee was created by the passage of Senate Resolution 4 during the 2014 legislative session. The Committee was created in response to Senate Bill 306, which was sponsored by Sen. William Ligon, to permanently ban pumping surface water into any aquifers governed by the Georgia Coastal Zone Management Program. The study committee will also work to prevent surface waters from being injected into Georgia’s extensive aquifer system, which will protect Georgia’s water sources from contamination.
GA Water Coalition Honors Senator William Ligon with Clean Water Champion Award
ATLANTA (June 24, 2014) The Georgia Water Coalition (GWC) has honored Senator William Ligon with a Clean Water Champion Award for their support of Georgia’s rivers, lakes, groundwater and streams during the 2014 legislative session.
The 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions saw intense debate over the ownership of water, drinking water protections, and the health of our rivers, lakes, and streams. Senator William Ligon helped to craft and support solutions to the problems facing Georgia’s valuable water resources.
“Georgia has been blessed with a heritage of beautiful and abundant rivers and plentiful groundwater supplies that are part of what make this state so special,” said Jennette Gayer, Director of Environment Georgia and part of the GWC’s leadership. “Unfortunately, drought, increased consumption and pollution have made it clear that Georgia’s water is a finite resource that must be protected, this year Senator William Ligon stepped up and did just that.”
“I’m honored to be recognized for my commitment to small businesses, and I will continue to do my part to ensure economic development remains a top priority for Georgia,” said Sen. Ligon.
"Sen. Ligon clearly understands what small business means to Georgia’s economy," said Kyle Jackson, State Director, NFIB Georgia. "By supporting small business, Sen. Ligon is supporting working families and the community. Our members appreciate the efforts of Sen. Ligon to help grow our state’s economy and create jobs.”
Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer (R-Duluth), who also received a 100% rating, praised Sen. Ligon for his leadership in promoting small business. "Small businesses are the real engines of economic development, putting Georgians to work. I am proud to stand with Sen. Ligon in support of small business."
NFIB/Georgia’s 2013-14 Voting Record included 12 key issues, including workers’ comp reform, tax relief, employment law, preserving Georgia’s status as a right-to-work state and support of a federal balanced-budget amendment. The full report may be viewed at www.NFIB.com/GA.
NFIB was founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization to give small and independent-business owners a voice in shaping public policy issues. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the right of members to own, operate and grow their businesses.
SB 381, otherwise known as the “First Informer Broadcasters” bill, would direct the unified incident command system and the Georgia Emergency Operations Plan to establish planning for first informer broadcasters. By implementing a plan during emergencies, first informer broadcasters will have more access to fuel, food, water and other materials necessary for maintaining a broadcast signal.
SB 384, America's Founding Philosophy and Principles Act, which I co-sponsored, allows for a new code section requiring the local boards of education, beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, to recommend high school students -grades nine through twelve - to participate in a semester course of study on America’s founding principles. The bill passed unanimously.
SR 747, a resolution I sponsored urges amending or repealing the federal Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Act. This resolution is an important first step toward restoring flood insurance premiums to an affordable level and eliminating the negative impact this act has had upon home values and the local community. It is my hope the federal government will take swift and decisive action to ensure those living along Georgia’s coastal areas are no longer adversely affected by the burdensome mandates of this act.
SR 783 proposes an amendment to the Georgia Constitution to prevent the Georgia General Assembly from re-enacting future ad valorem taxes. The ad valorem tax is a minor source of revenue in Georgia, reaching a peak of only $80 million prior to its phase out. Currently, the state’s largest revenue streams include the individual state income tax and the sales and use tax. The constitutional amendment prohibiting the collection of ad valorem taxes will not apply to public utilities, railroad companies or airlines, or administrative functions that are subject to local ad valorem taxation.
The House Education Committee heard testimony for almost three hours on Wednesday regarding Senate Bill 167. As a refresher, the bill will ensure that Georgia retains the right to determine its educational standards rather than those standards being developed by interests outside the State of Georgia and it outlines new protections for student privacy. It creates the Curriculum Content Standards Advisory Council; a group made up of parents, teachers, university professors and other citizens tasked with advising the Board of Education on revising and adopting content standards. Since the House Education Committee was only hearing public testimony and gathering feedback from educators, parents and other interested stakeholders, no voting took place. However, it is anticipated the bill will be up for a vote next week on March 13th.
The legislation gives school systems local control through the option of utilizing the previous Georgia Performance Standards as the process of revising math and English language arts standards occurs over the next two years. Even after the revised standards are completed, the legislation offers more flexibility for local districts to sequence, expand, and enrich the standards in ways that better suit the educational needs of their students and local communities.
In addition, SB 167 requires all statewide tests and assessments to be solely controlled by the State of Georgia, requires the Department of Education to inform the Georgia General Assembly of the long-term effects of any educational grant, and prohibits officials from relinquishing constitutional authority over standards and testing to third parties.
SB 167 also enforces higher student privacy controls by outlining limited categories of data that can be collected and disclosed without parental consent and prohibits the use of student records for commercial purposes. State agencies, local school districts, and educational institutions must disclose the nature of information collected and also provide parental access to these records. Any funds used for building or maintaining data systems for student records may not be used beyond students’ K-12 and college enrollment years.
"Though I recognize that this is a major milestone today made possible through the efforts of many grassroots activists around the state and through the prayers of many people, the effort has really just begun," added Sen. Ligon. "If this bill passes the House and is signed by the Governor, parents and citizens will have to build on this foundation. They will need to stay engaged in the effort to not only revise Georgia's content standards in English and math, but also to ensure that their local school districts stop all Common Core instruction and return to curricula aligned to the superior Georgia Performance Standards while the statewide revision of standards takes place. This is a long-term effort, and we must stay the course."
Senate Bill 167 will now transfer to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Additionally, Senate Bill 167 outlines the limited categories of data that can be collected and disclosed without parental consent. It also prohibits the use of any student records for commercial purposes. The bill ensures that state agencies, local school districts, and educational institutions must disclose the nature of the information they collect on students and provide parents access to these records. It also prohibits the use of funds for building and maintaining any data system that is designed to systematically collect records on students beyond their K-12 and college education.
In other Senate news, Senate Resolution 747 passed unanimously out of the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee on Thursday. SR 747 encourages Congress to enact legislation to repeal or amend the Biggert-Waters Flood Reform Act. In July 2012, the U.S Congress adopted this Act to allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to alter the operation and funding mechanisms governing the National Flood Insurance Program. However, FEMA’s failure to implement these changes has caused unanticipated increases in flood insurance premiums. The resolution urges a complete repeal of this act and calls upon legislators to investigate strategies to make flood insurance premiums more affordable to home owners and businesses, especially those living along Georgia’s coastal areas.
A key feature of the bill is the public and transparent process for adopting first-class education standards so that control is returned to Georgia citizens. As part of the new process, the bill language provides for a Content Standards Advisory Council that would require participation from the different congressional districts throughout the state. The council would include parents, university professors, and other citizens. This council will use additional sub-committees comprised of K-12 teachers and curriculum specialists to work on curriculum standards at the various grade levels, and through a detailed public process, the council would receive public comments statewide over a 90-day period and make recommendations to the State Board of Education on revisions to the core curriculum content standards. Priority is given to revising math standards so that revisions would be complete within one year's time.
In addition, the bill language allows local school districts a choice to return to curriculum and instruction that aligns with the former Georgia Performance Standards or other standards, including the flexibility to use discreet math, while the statewide revision process occurs. After the process is completed, it will still allow local flexibility to enhance or modify standards so that parents and teachers can have meaningful input at the local level about what is taught in the classroom. The bill requires that all statewide assessments be solely controlled by the State of Georgia, requires the Department of Education to inform the General Assembly of the long-term effects of any grant, and prohibits State officials from ceding any measure of the people's constitutional authority over standards and testing to third parties.
Obamacare comes with a substantial price tag for the people of this state and nation, including individuals covered under our State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP). Our proposed FY2015 budget for the State Health Benefit Plan is $3.2 billion. Of this, 7.2 percent is attributed to ACA compliance costs.
ACA compliance costs have caused a 2.4 percent increase in expenses from the FY2014 general budget to the proposed FY2015 general budget. In FY2014, the state covered $149 million in ACA expenses and is expected to pay $225 million in expenses for FY2015. This includes the 12-month cost on the individual mandate, limitations on out-of-pocket maximums, the Transitional Reinsurance Fee, dependent coverage to age 26, preventive care coverage without cost sharing and the Comparative Effectiveness Research Fee. Unfortunately, this trend will continue with each passing year as health care costs only continue to rise.
Health care as we know it is rapidly changing in the United States, and it is not for the greater good. As proud, taxpaying citizens, it’s imperative that we keep searching for free-market solutions that will allow families the freedom to choose the health plan that best fits their needs-not what the government has deemed the best plan for all.
Another concern private businesses are facing is the woodwork effect of Obamacare as it continues to roll-out in all 50 states. According to the Heritage Foundation, the cost of hiring a full-time minimum wage employee is estimated to rise to $10.30 per hour in 2015. This number includes the employer mandate, employer payroll taxes and the minimum wage.
In addition to the increased hiring costs associated with the implementation of Obamacare, the president recently proposed a minimum wage increase of $10.10 an hour. This would bring the minimum cost of hiring a full-time worker - including Obamacare penalties - to $12.71 an hour.
For businesses, the bottom line is revenue. If businesses are required to recoup the costs associated with a higher minimum wage, they may hire fewer workers, shorten the business day or make products and services more expensive. As you can see, raising the minimum wage is bad economic policy for American businesses and an unsustainable method of reducing poverty levels.
Obamacare is another issue that has taken center stage in the media over the past several years. This comprehensive, nationalized health care plan has already begun to take a heavy toll on our state budget, including Georgia’s State Health Benefit Plan. For the past two years, state employees and teachers have been required to pay more in health premiums as a result of burdensome and inflexible coverage mandates.
A minimum wage job is not intended to be the final stop along an individual’s career path, but serves as a spring board into the competitive job market. These jobs provide invaluable learning opportunities that teach basic employment skills such as collaboration and teamwork, effective communication and a responsible work ethic.
Raising the minimum wage would also have a detrimental impact on hiring and career advancement. Georgia’s minimum wage currently stands at $5.15 an hour, and the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. There have been proposals to raise each to $10 per hour.
Instead of allowing private employers the autonomy to provide incentives for promotions that lead to career advancement, many in the public sphere are trying to coerce private sector businesses to comply with burdensome regulations and pay increases that seek to hinder job growth.
The government should not have the ability to dictate how employees are paid or the benefit packages offered. Instead, we should allow the free market to function and focus on the creation of good jobs that lead to well-paying careers. This will not only eliminate barriers to job creation, but incentivize individuals to work towards greater levels of employment and take responsibility for their own personal growth.
The Senate also took action on a number of other bills and resolutions on Crossover Day, including:
SB 98 bars health plans offered through a Georgia state or federal health care exchange, as well as the State Health Benefit Plan, from covering abortion services except in the case of a medical emergency.
SB 268 allows a physician to delegate the prescribing of Schedule II controlled substances to a physician assistant. However, a physician will not be able to delegate this authority if the prescription calls for more than a 30 day supply.
SB 281 would require the State Health Benefit Plan to offer at least one high deductible health plan paired with a health savings account.
SB 304 allows care providers to offer continuing care at facilities where a resident purchases a living space as part of a continuing care agreement.
As for Senate action this past week, I was able to present Senate Bills 336 and 337, which both passed on Tuesday. Across the state, some of our businesses had been assessed with unreasonable financial penalties for small infractions by regulatory agencies. After looking into the situation, I found that barber shops and hair salons could incur fines on a first offense that was as much as what a drunk driver may be fined. If signed into law, SB 336 would ensure that the Board of Cosmetology could not impose high dollar fines on licensed cosmetologists for the first or even second violation. Instead, if this bill becomes law, penalties cannot exceed $25 for the first violation, $75 for the second and $300 for each subsequent violation. SB 337 provides the same limitations on penalties to the Board of Barbers. Both boards currently have the ability to revoke, suspend or deny a license.
On Thursday, Senate Bill 167, which I sponsored, received unanimous support from the Senate Education and Youth Committee. This bill is a combined substitute of both SB 167 (Student Right to Privacy Act) and SB 203 (An Act to Restore Educational Authority to Georgia Citizens). The legislation provides an orderly process for Georgia to move away from its experiment with national standards, currently known as the "Common Core," and limits the collection and sharing of student data. The bill also provides new protections for the privacy of students in order to prevent life-long data tracking.
In July 2012, the United States Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. This act, which was created to modify the National Flood Insurance Program, is currently run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and a few other supporting federal agencies. As a result, flood insurance rates have skyrocketed to the detriment of homeowners, particularly along Georgia’s coastal areas. In response, I’ve sponsored Senate Resolution 747, which calls on the United States Congress to repeal or amend the act in its current form and provide relief for Georgia homeowners. This resolution is an important first step toward restoring flood insurance premiums to an affordable level and eliminating the negative impact this act has had upon home values and the local community.
Next Tuesday, February 4, 2014, I will join grassroots leaders and elected officials from throughout the state at a “Stop the Common Core” rally and press conference at the Georgia State Capitol.
The rally and press conference will call on the Governor as well as the State Legislature to withdraw Georgia from its participation in Common Core national standards and forego any testing associated with these standards. I will also highlight my bill, SB 203 - An Act to Restore Educational Authority to Georgia Citizens, which will provide an orderly process to withdraw from the Common Core and help ensure that a transparent public process is established for the adoption of Georgia's educational standards. Additionally, this press conference will focus on how this unprecedented national framework for education greatly increases data collection and data tracking on students. Therefore, it is vitally important for the legislature to pass SB 167, The Student and Teacher Right to Privacy Act, which I am sponsoring, to prevent life-long data tracking from Pre-K through college and career.
Senate Resolution 806, which I sponsored, was also referred to the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee on Tuesday, January 28, 2014. This resolution encourages Congress to enact legislation that would fully fund the annual dredging cycle at the Port of Brunswick and continue to fund the program for years to come. The continued dredging of the Port of Brunswick is just as important as the expansion of the Port of Savannah and plays a critical role in the economic development of the entire region. For Fiscal Year 2014, the Port of Brunswick handled over three million tons of cargo, an increase of over 47 percent from the previous year. The maintenance of the Port of Brunswick is also important to securing future economic investment, protecting jobs around the port, and developing community partnerships.
Another bill I sponsored, Senate Bill 306, seeks to permanently ban pumping surface water into any aquifers governed by the Georgia Coastal Zone Management Program, which includes aquifers located across our border in Florida. This bill serves to protect our water in South Georgia. The concern is that if we get surface waters injected into the aquifer which are not thoroughly pure, they could contaminate our water sources - and we want to do everything we can to maintain the purity of our water system.
HB 1080 provides for the placement of a statue of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Capitol grounds, subject to the availability of private funds and intellectual property rights.
HB 838 prohibits any person from transmitting unauthorized nude or sexually explicit photos or videos of another person to the internet.
HB 933 extends the current state sales tax exemption on the sale of equipment used in the maintenance or repair of aircraft not registered in Georgia. Under current law, this exemption is set to expire on June 30, 2015, and this bill will make the exemption permanent.
HB 958 includes the extension and revision of certain entertainment tax credits, food donation tax exemptions and back to school sales tax holidays.
HB 943, known as the Cancer Treatment Fairness Act and Required Coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorders, requires health insurance policies providing coverage for intravenously administered chemotherapy to ensure the same level of coverage for orally administered chemotherapy. The bill was amended to require insurers to cover children six years of age or younger diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
HB 770 establishes the crimes of home invasion in the first and second degree in both the criminal and juvenile code. Under this legislation, both offenses may be designated and punished as felonies.HB 777 enacts the Interstate Boating Violator Compact, an agreement between states that allows the home state to treat a boating conviction of one of its residents in another state as if the conviction had occurred in the home state. HB 777 allows the Department of Natural Resources to suspend a person’s privilege to operate a water vessel for violations of laws outlined in the Interstate Boating Violator Compact. The bill changes the effective date of criminal boating violations to January 1, 2014.
HB 790 expands the responsibility of the Georgia Forestry Commission to enforce timber theft laws by allowing commission foresters and firefighters, along with investigators, to issue citations for cutting or carrying away of timber of another landowner.
HB 702 administers the placement of a historic granite monument on State Capitol grounds. The monument would specifically include the Preamble to the Georgia Constitution, the part of the Declaration of Independence which states that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” and the Ten Commandments.
“On the coast much of our drinking water comes from groundwater so it is outrageous that the moratorium which protects these groundwater supplies was not renewed by the legislature this year,” said Megan Derosiers, Director of 100 miles and member of the GWC leadership team. “We thank our champion legislators who worked hard to protect our drinking water and look forward to continuing this effort next year.”
The awards were presented at Riverview Landing before some 400 participants in this year's Paddle Georgia, a 7-day, 110-mile canoe and kayak adventure down the Chattahoochee River sponsored by Georgia River Network. Riverview Landing, located on the Chattahoochee River in Mableton, is a former industrial site that has been reclaimed and is being converted into a sustainable mixed-use residential-retail development.
The Georgia Water Coalition is a consortium of more than 200 conservation and environmental organizations, hunting and fishing groups, businesses, and faith-based organizations that have been working to protect Georgia’s water since 2002. Collectively, these organizations represent more than 300,000 Georgians.
The GWC recognized Representatives and Senators who took action to protect the water future generations of Georgians will depend on for drinking water, recreation, wildlife conservation, and economic prosperity.
This included Senator William Ligon leadership around SB 306 which would have permanently extended an existing moratorium on aquifer storage and recovery (ASR), set to expire in July, 2014, that bans the use of ASR in the Floridan aquifer in 11 coastal counties. SB 306 was heard in the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee, but instead of voting on the bill, committee Chair Ross Tolleson ordered the bill to a study committee. By sending the bill to a study committee, and not bringing it up for a vote, Chairman Tolleson unilaterally allowed the moratorium to expire.
Pumping chemically treated water underground threatens all Georgia aquifers, which hundreds of thousands of Georgians rely on for drinking water, and could lead to increased levels of arsenic that exceed drinking water standards and introduction of bacteria, pathogens and disinfection byproducts into Georgia’s aquifers.