2017-02-15 / Community

Under the Gold Dome

by: State Representative, Gerald Greene

We returned to the Gold Dome on Tuesday, February 7, to begin another eventful week of the legislative session which included a full schedule of House committee activity and hearings on many important topics. With a month of session behind us, many bills are beginning to make their way out of their respective committees and onto the House floor for a vote, and this week, my colleagues and I saw the passage of several significant bills that would better the lives of the citizens in our state.

One such measure that the House passed this week with overwhelming, bipartisan support was House Bill 146, legislation that would greatly benefit the men and women who risk their lives for the safety of our communities and state – Georgia’s brave firefighters. HB 146 would require fire departments to provide and maintain adequate insurance coverage for Georgia’s firefighters who have served on-duty at their department for 12 consecutive months, have been diagnosed with cancer and are disabled and unable to continue to work as a result of that cancer. HB 146 would allow firefighters to maintain their insurance coverage upon retirement or a career change.

In addition to passing HB 146, my colleagues and I continued to show our support for Georgia’s courageous firefighters this week with the unanimous passage of House Bills 83 and 84, two bills that would support the Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund. HB 83 would allow the Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund to invest up to 10 percent of its total assets in real estate, which is currently prohibited. Similarly, HB 84 would give the Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund the ability to invest up to 10 percent of its total assets in alternative investments.

Another bill that was voted out of our body with tremendous support was House Bill 176, legislation that works to improve the overall functionality of the Georgia Department of Agriculture. This legislation would allow the Georgia Department of Agriculture to enter into agreements with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which requires that certain farms and packing houses be inspected.

As legislators, it is our inherent responsibility to protect the lives of Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens, and this week, we unanimously passed legislation that would change open records laws involving children in order to safeguard our youngest Georgians. House Bill 75 would protect Georgia’s children by allowing law enforcement or prosecution agencies to confidentially share vital information regarding ongoing child abuse, neglect or dependency investigations with the Department of Human Services, including the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS), and other governmental child protective agencies. Currently, any information law enforcement officials share with child protective agencies in any pending investigation or prosecution of criminal activity is recorded in case files and subject to open records requests.

Now that the session is picking up its pace, we will begin voting on more bills and resolutions every day that we are in session. I encourage you to provide me with your input and thoughts as I serve you and your family here on Capitol Hill. Please stop by and visit if you are in Atlanta or call my office at the State Capitol, as I am always happy to speak with you regarding any questions or comments you may have concerning legislation. My capitol office phone number is 404-656-5105, and my email address is gerald.greene@house.ga.gov.

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative.

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