As our fourth week at the Capitol draws to a close, committee meetings are convening regularly and bills are passing through the Senate. I am enthusiastic about the work we have already achieved and look forward to all we will accomplish this session.
Last week the Public Safety Committee heard and recommended Senate Bill 25, and on Thursday the Senate passed it with bipartisan unanimous support. SB 25 clears up ambiguous language in last session’s House Bill 978 that allowed drivers to pass a school bus when separated by only a turn lane. This created confusion for both law enforcement and Georgia drivers, while putting our school children at risk. SB 25 clarifies that drivers can pass a school bus only when there is separation of a grass median, unpaved area, or barrier separating the two directions of traffic. This bill goes a long way to ensure safety in our state and I will continue to make sure whatever we work to pass will make our district and our state the best places to live, work, and raise a family. SB 25 now moves on to the House for their consideration.
This week, the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee met to hear an update on recovery efforts resulting from Hurricane Michael. While the loss of timber, crops, and farmland across south Georgia is truly unprecedented and will take decades to overcome, I am thankful for state agencies such as the Georgia Forestry Commission and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, among many others, for doing all they can to get our agriculture industry up and running at full speed as quickly as possible. We also had representatives from those two departments pay a visit to the Natural Resources and the Environment Committee, on which I serve as Chairman, this week. While much remains to be done in regards to recovery efforts, these presentations gave us a good indication on what requires the most urgent action. It is my hope that this session we can pass legislation, which combined with the bills we passed during our special session last year, can set south Georgia and our agricultural community back on a path to prosperity.
On Wednesday, the Senate honored a select group of courageous Georgians on Firefighters Recognition Day. These men and women work tirelessly to ensure that we are protected in our homes, offices and public areas. Over 30,000 firefighters at 900 fire stations have committed their lives to public safety in our state. I would like to extend a personal thank-you to the firefighters in Atkinson, Bacon, Ben Hill, Berrien, Coffee, Irwin, Pierce, Ware, Charlton and Wilcox Counties. We see your bravery and hard work in keeping District 7 safe and it is greatly appreciated.
Thursday, we celebrated Georgia 4-H Day at the Capitol. It is important that we recognize clubs that engage our youth and prepare them to be contributing, meaningful members of society. 4-H plays an integral role in sustaining agricultural development in our state by introducing our youth to hands-on projects in a number of agricultural related fields. Senate District 7 is proudly home to many local 4-H clubs and it was great to see members of Bacon County and Ware County 4-H during their visit to the Capitol this week. I commend the dedicated people involved in this significant organization in showing our young people the endless possibilities offered by the agriculture industry.
In the next few weeks, the Senate will continue to hear bills and pass legislation. The date for Sine Die, the last day of session, has been set for April 2. While that date might sound a long way away, we will be working hard under the Gold Dome every day up until that deadline to further refine, debate and craft legislation. As always, I am honored to represent Senate District 7 here at the Capitol and will continue to do my best to ensure that your values are fully and accurately represented. Also, we had a number of visitors from the 7th District at the Capitol this week. Whether it was at a breakfast, a reception, or a meeting on the ropes or in my office, I always appreciate you taking the time to reach out while under the Gold Dome. If you plan to visit the Capitol while we are in session, please let us know. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.
Sen. Tyler Harper serves as Chairman of the Natural Resources and the Environment Committee. He represents the 7th Senate District, which includes Atkinson, Bacon, Ben Hill, Berrien, Coffee, Irwin, Pierce and Ware counties and portions of Charlton and Wilcox counties. He may be reached at 404.463.5263 or via email at email@example.com