The governor continues to take action on bills submitted to him at the end of the 2011 Legislative Session. Many of them I supported and some I did not. The following bills are just a few of those waiting to be signed by Governor Deal:
SB 80 will require that DNA be collected from all convicted felons in Georgia.
This bill ensures that individuals with a proven history of violent behavior will be catalogued by their own DNA, granting public safety officers one more tool to capture those that break our laws. For those complaining that this is an invasion of personal rights, I remind you that convicted felons have already forfeited many of their civil rights, e.g., voting and carrying weapons.
HB 24 is an update and rewrite of Georgia’s antiquated Evidence Code.
Georgia follows common law evidence rules which were cobbled together over many years. The Code was adopted in 1868 and has been changed by a myriad of patch work code amendments and case law.
Since the first effort at an update in the 1980s, numerous Bar Association committees, legislative study committees, and negotiations with interested parties have taken place. The result is a comprehensive overhaul of Georgia’s Code which will adopt the Federal Rules of Evidence. With this update, Georgia joins 43 other states that have taken similar action.
The rewrite is supported by the State Bar of Georgia. It results in an Evidence Code that will be easier to use by attorneys and judges, provides more predictability and efficiency within the court system, and brings clearer justice for all Georgians.
Another bill covered this week is SB 36 which creates a prescription drug database.
Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug abuse problem in our country. It accounts for more than 30 percent of all drug abuse. With the exception of Florida, which is currently implementing a program, every state bordering Georgia already has a monitoring program in place.
As a result of these monitoring programs in surrounding states, drug abusers and their facilitators are rushing into Georgia. The legislation allows doctors and pharmacists the ability to analyze what prescriptions patients have obtained and determine if they are being used as directed. With this added communication link between the doctor and pharmacist, SB 36 attempts to provide better healthcare for Georgians.
You may remember that I spoke out and voted against HB 122, which allows local governments to partner with the private sector to build large water projects (reservoirs). I did not support this bill because it did not specifically require privately funded projects to meet the same EPD requirements as government-funded ones. There were many facets to the bill which made it controversial and led to much discussion. It finally passed by two votes.
The recent incidents surrounding Calhoun Creek prove we have better government when local residents maintain a watch on its activities. That is true at all levels: federal, state and local. Since HB 122 places significant control into the hands of local governments, local citizens will need to provide proper oversight for those projects, which may materialize over the next several years.
The governor signed HB 122 because he considers it as the preferred way to solve our water needs. It puts procedures into place for how private partners should be selected and allows local governments to sign contracts outsourcing management of these facilities with private companies.
The commissioners of counties around Lake Lanier have signed petitions asking the Corps of Engineers to raise the level of the lake by two feet as a cheaper alternative to building reservoirs. Although raising Lake Lanier by two feet could provide the needed water, unless the Federal Court changes its water withdrawal decision, we would not be any better off.
On a more somber note, please pray for those who were hurt, killed or made homeless by the tornadoes. The toll on lives and property continues to rise.
Many of our local churches are accepting donations in support of the relief efforts.
Rep. Amos Amerson can be reached at 489 N. Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533; phone (706) 864-6589; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Or contact Gerald Lewy at (706) 344-7788.