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The halfway point
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This week marked the halfway point of the 2017 legislative session and the end of week six here at the state Capitol. From committee meetings, to the many special guests we honored on the Senate floor, it has certainly been a busy week here, and the pace is sure to continue in the next 20 days.

This week I had the privilege of honoring two talented and smart young ladies from District 51, Taylor Burrell, Miss Apple Capitol, and Chandler Sherry, Miss Apple Capitol's Outstanding Teen. These two women will represent our area in the Miss America and Miss America's Outstanding Teen preliminary competitions. It was wonderful having them on the Senate floor and I am grateful for their willingness to represent our district with pride.

This week was full of important legislation, so I am going to give you a basic rundown of some of the bills we heard on the Senate floor, all of which passed and will now travel to the House for consideration:

Senate Bill 2, "The FAST Act - Fairness, Accountability, Simplification, and Transparency - Empowering Our Small Businesses to Succeed" supports businesses, big and small and will reduce the regulatory burdens placed on Georgia's small businesses. It aims to simplify the licensing processes and to eliminate nuisance taxes.

Senate Bill 3, the "Creating Opportunities Needed Now to Expand Credentialed Training Act," would encourage high schools and industries to participate in credentialing programs that would allow high school students to earn certified industry credentials while still in school. Areas of focus under this bill include industries in the career, technical and agriculture education programs.

Senate Bill 45, or the "upskirting bill," would make the observation, filming, video recording or photography under or through an individual's clothing to view intimate body parts illegal in Georgia. This bill is needed to amend the current outdated law because of today's technology saturated society. It's good to see our privacy being protected and our laws being update to reflect changes in modern technology.

Senate Bill 89 would provide investments for railroads to help support transportation across the state. As our state becomes more populated and our economic opportunities expand, it's important that our infrastructure needs follow as well. By increasing funding to railway, we ensure that our state's infrastructure needs in freight rail are met for years to come. This bill is extremely important to my colleagues and me and will keep Georgia on the right track for economic success and prosperity.

As always, it is a pleasure to represent you in Atlanta. Your opinion means a lot to me and I hope you will reach out to my office if you have any questions, comments or concerns about pending legislation. Thank you!

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