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Update from the Gold Dome: Week 4
Steve Gooch
Steve Gooch.

During week four, committee meetings and legislative proceedings were well underway at the Capitol. We passed our first bill and resolution of the session and my rural broadband legislation has been heard in committee. I am enthusiastic about the progress that we have made so far, and look forward to what we can achieve.

On Feb. 6, Senate Bill 17, the “Rural Telephone Cooperative Act,” was heard in the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. I sponsored this legislation to allow telephone cooperatives to provide internet services and broadband to their customers. This legislation would impact four telephone cooperatives in Statesboro, Metter, Newington and Rentz and allow them to get into the broadband business.

A hearing on SB 2 will be held on Feb. 12. SB 2 would allow EMCs to deploy internet services and broadband to their customers.

In addition to committee meetings, the Senate had two pieces of legislation under consideration for a vote last week. Senate Bill 25 was adopted with a bipartisan, unanimous vote on Feb. 7. This legislation clears up language that was passed in House Bill 978 and has led to safety concerns for our students being transported on school buses.

HB 978 allows for drivers to pass a stopped school bus when traveling in the opposite direction if only a turn lane is present. This caused confusion for law enforcement and Georgia drivers, while putting school bus riders in danger. SB 25 makes it clear that drivers passing a school bus may only do so if there is a grass median, unpaved area or physical barrier separating the two directions of traffic. I am encouraged by the bipartisan support for crucial bills such as this that clarify the law for our citizens and keep our children safe.

On Friday the Senate heard and adopted Senate Resolution 19, which I co-sponsored. SR 19 would create a Georgia Commission on Freight, Innovation and Logistics which would strategize a statewide plan regarding advancement in transportation to ensure that our state remains competitive in the rapidly growing freight and logistics industry. I am pleased to announce that SR 19 passed with a vote of 54 -0 and the Georgia Commission on Freight, Innovation and Logistics is on the path to actualization.

Additionally, the House passed the Amended Fiscal Year 2019 budget on Friday. Now, the Senate will make adjustments and pass the amended budget so work can continue on the proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget. 

In addition to our legislative victories, we like to celebrate our constituents under the Gold Dome. On Feb. 7, the Senate recognized Dahlonega, Lumpkin County Day, during which I welcomed constituents from back home to the Capitol. On Friday, the Senate celebrated White County Day, and I was lucky enough to honor even more of my constituents and our great district. Not only are these days dedicated to celebrating the rich history and uniqueness of the counties that make up the 51st Senate District, they also serve as a huge thank you for their continued trust in me.

As always, it is a true honor to serve the 51st Senate District of Georgia. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, comments or concerns. My phone lines and my office door are always open.

Sen. Steve Gooch serves as the Senate Majority Whip.  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.