Halfway through my first legislative session

Published 5:56 pm Monday, February 25, 2019

By Randy Robertson
Represents District 29 in Georgia Senate

With the conclusion of the sixth week of legislative work, we are officially halfway through my first legislative session. It’s certainly been busy, we have had visitors from District 29 each day and are grateful for the feedback and engagement from home. This week we were in session for four days and passed 12 pieces of legislation.

Of the five bills that passed Wednesday, I would like to commend Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega) for his continued efforts to expand broadband to rural areas through Senate Bill 17. This legislation would allow telephone cooperatives in Metter, Newington, Rentz and Statesboro to provide internet services and broadband to their customers. Though none of these areas are in our district, I know this help will be coming for all underserved areas soon. Additionally, a bill that will affect many in our district is Senate Bill 48, which does several things to help address dyslexia education and identification in our state. Currently, there is no mandatory screening for dyslexia in public schools, though it effects approximately one in five students.

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This bill would require screening for kindergarten students and students who show characteristics of dyslexia in grades one through three. It also sets up some procedures to help prepare teachers to identify characteristics and teach dyslexic students. I am happy to support this measure to ensure that students across our state are given every opportunity to receive a quality education.

The two pieces of legislation passed on Thursday that I would like to specifically highlight are Senate Bills 1 and 72. Senate Bill 1, or “C.J.’s Law”, would apply a felony charge to drivers who knowingly commit a hit and run that results in serious bodily injury.

This felony charge would carry a sentence of one to 10 years. I think this is an important bill, as I think we can all agree that knowingly injuring someone and driving away is wrong, and this bill simply puts that in the law with an appropriate charge. Senate Bill 72 relates to hunting provisions and likely addresses some things you will care about. This bill, in conjunction with previous law, would remove the requirement to have a license for hunting in Wildlife Management Areas. It would also allow the use of air guns and bows for hunting big game during specific hunting seasons, and remove the prohibition against baiting feral hogs within 50 feet of a property line as long as it does not prevent hunting on an adjoining property. Additionally, the bill would modify hunting seasons for opossums, raccoons, deer and bears and would change the term “Conservation Ranger” to “Game Warden.” It is important to remember that while there are many residents of Georgia who hunt recreationally, there are just as many in rural areas who hunt as a way of life.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources keeps track of the populations of wildlife in Georgia and sets appropriate bag limits to help maintain a healthy population.

This week, I was able to use my first ever “point of personal privilege” to welcome my fellow Fraternal Order of the Police (FOP) members to the Senate on Thursday.

We have thousands of men and women in Georgia who wear the badge with honor and put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect the people of Georgia.

Not only was I able to honor my fellow law enforcement officers, but there were many police officers honored in the Senate on Thursday. Deputy First Class Rod Reeves from the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and Major Tommy Bradford from the Dade County Sheriff’s office were honored for their personal sacrifices they have made in the line of duty.