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End of 2015 legislative session is near
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Only two days remain in the 2015 legislative session.

All of the Senate committees finished their fact-finding work last Friday, and will not meet again until 2016.

This doesn't mean the last two days will be a piece of cake-these days are going to stretch into the evenings and will be far from easy. There are still many bills and resolutions waiting for Senate approval, and we are going to try and give each one a chance for final passage in 2015.

One of the most high-profile bills this session is HB 1, which many of you know as the medical cannabis bill. The legislation would allow the use of cannabis oil to relieve the symptoms of certain severe medical conditions.

The legislation is very specific-only individuals suffering from severe or end stage amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, cancer or sickle cell disease would be able to receive a prescription for cannabis oil, as well as those suffering from Crohn's disease, mitochondrial disease or seizure disorders caused by epilepsy or head trauma would also be able to receive a prescription.

The legislation also outlines the establishment of a patient registry and creates the Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis.

The House agreed to the changes made by the Senate last week, and the bill is now waiting for Gov. Nathan Deal's signature. The legislature's approval of cannabis oil will bring the much needed relief to Georgia's citizens suffering from debilitating diseases.

Another high-profile bill this session is HB 170, The Transportation Funding Act of 2015. The Act's main purpose is to generate the necessary $1 billion needed to improve transportation infrastructure throughout the state.

As I mentioned in my last column, funding transportation is not just a metro Atlanta problem. It is very important that the House and Senate agree on a compromised version of HB 170 before the legislative session ends on April 2nd-otherwise, we will be facing a critical transportation funding problem.

I was appointed to serve on a conference committee with five other legislators from the House and Senate, and we are negotiating a version of the bill that adequately funds statewide transportation needs in the most fiscally responsible manner possible.

Last week, I was proud to host several District 51 visitors at the Georgia State Capitol.

The White County Color and Honor Guard was recognized for their contributions and service to White County with Senate Resolution 149.

The Color and Honor Guard does a great service by presenting colors at the funerals for veterans and fallen soldiers, and it was a sincere honor to recognize their efforts.

It was also an honor to recognize Army ROTC Cadet Jonathan Strickland with Senate Resolution 130 last week.

Cadet Strickland, who attends the University of North Georgia, has been named the U.S. Army Cadet Command's Cadet of the Year out of 5,617 Army ROTC cadets.

The recognition was based on his performance at the Army's Leadership Development Assessment Course, physical fitness testing, campus leadership performance, and overall academic achievement.

Although this week will be a busy one, I encourage anyone with questions or comments to contact my office at any time.

As always, it is an honor and a privilege to represent District 51 at the Georgia State Capitol.

Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District, which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties. He may be reached at (404) 656-9221 or via email at steve.gooch@senate.ga.gov.

 

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