2017-03-16 / Editorial Page

Tom McCall’s weekly update

Last week was our first week after “Cross-Over Day.” We spent much of our time catching up on Local Legislation we must do to provide for purely local matters that relate only to a particular county or mu­nicipality.

We completed Day 31 of our 40- day Session on Friday, March 10. I have highlighted a few bills of interest in my “Week in Review.” In local news, I want to personally thank Craig Camuso and CSX for their generous contributions. Please see below an article that explains what the contributions have allowed “Friends Helping Friends” to do for our kids.

The Friends Helping Friends Club received five generous grants in recent years thanks to Craig Ca­muso CSX Regional Vice President - State Government & Community Affairs

“Because of generous contribu­tions from CSX, FHF is able to provide their annual Friends of Bekkah VBS 4-day Camp at El­berton Christian Campus for over 100 students of all ages including young adults, FHF trip shirts and EC Schools Fun Field Day shirts for all EC students, teachers, and paraprofessionals in special edu­cation classes, the 144 page FHF Sponsorship Booklet displayed at businesses, schools, homes and churches throughout the year, and also the annual FHF Braves Game Trip costs (mileage/gas & meals) to Atlanta for Elbert County Primary, Elementary, Middle & High Schools and Advantage Day Care adults. Braves game tickets are provided by the Braves Reach Out Program.”

House Happenings

Our House website, www.house.ga.gov, has a number of tools to help you stay up-to-date on what’s going on at the Capitol: you can watch a live stream of the House proceedings, view live and archived committee meetings, and review legislation we are considering. You may be interested in watching House Committee meetings to see debate on various House Bills.

Here are instructions for accessing committee meetings online:

1. www.house.ga.gov

2. Click on “Committees” tab

3. From there you will see a list of all House Committees. Click on the Committee you want to watch.

4. On the Committee page, click on “Archives”

5. The Archive will show all meet­ing dates and meeting agendas.

6. Click on the date you wish to view.

Good News for Rural Georgia

HR 389-creates the House Rural Development Council The State of Georgia has experienced tremen­dous job growth since 2010 with more than 500,000 new jobs added in the private sector during that pe­riod. Georgia’s economic successes during this time have resulted from a favorable tax structure, a favor­able regulatory environment, and aggressive economic development initiatives.

Georgia has been declared by sev­eral industry publications to be the best state in the nation for business, including Site Selection Magazine for the previous four years. All this economic success has not extended into all of Georgia’s rural areas to a desired level. As a result, Georgia’s rural areas are faced with challenges distinct from other areas of this state, which can include a loss of population, a deficiency in access to health care, poor infrastructure, diminished quality of educational opportunity, scarcity of employment opportunities, and overall lack of economic growth.

The overall objective of this study should be to identify policies and ideas to enhance economic opportunity across the entire state, particularly in rural areas.

This resolution provides for 15 members of the House be appointed by the Speaker, establishes proce­dures and objectives for the Council, and requires a written report to be filed no later than December 31, 2017 and the second report to be submitted by December 31, 2018. This is one more piece of legislation we have passed this year to address economic issues, and encourage economic growth and investment in rural areas of Georgia.

Honoring Law Enforcement

We took time last week to cel­ebrate Law Enforcement Apprecia­tion Day at the State Capitol. House Resolution 492 recognized March 6 as Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. This day was dedicated to honoring Georgia’s highly trained and professional certified peace of­ficers who daily put their lives on the line to serve and protect every one of us. Georgia’s approximately 54,000 certified peace officers serve across many state agencies.

All of these officers must undergo a comprehensive training program that includes classroom instruction, practical skills building sessions and advanced specialized courses based off of their specific sections, such as criminal investigations and legal and organizational development.

Georgia’s certified peace officers enforce traffic laws and investiga­tions, provide criminal investigation and forensic laboratory assistance, respond to natural disasters and promote and facilitate overall crime prevention and public safety.

We have lost 699 officers in the line of duty throughout our state’s history, including nine officers within the past year alone, and it was only fitting that we honor the lives of the brave men and women we have lost and those who continue to serve and protect our communities.

Week in Review l SB 69 relating to packaging, labeling and registration of organic products and certifying entities, addresses the issue of false pack­aging and advertising of “organic food”. The Bill provides for the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture to establish registration standards for producers, processors, distributors, handlers, and certify­ing entities that produce, process, distribute or handle in this state any advertised or identified organic food or prod­uct. l SB 78 This bill authorizes the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture to issue a variance or waiver of certain rules and regulations of the department. These waivers or variances can be given authorized if the rule would create a substantial hardship to a person. Additionally, the variances or waivers shall not be sought or authorized if granting a waiver or variance would be harmful to the public. l SB 102 provides for the designation of emergency cardiac care centers, and provides for the estab­lishment of the Office of Cardiac Care within the Department of Pub­lic Health. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States and in Georgia. Geor­gia ranks as the thirty-eighth worst in the nation for numbers of deaths from cardiovascular disease. There were 79,901 deaths in Georgia in 2015, and cardiovascular disease (excluding stroke) accounted for 23.6 percent of such deaths. Approximately 40 percent of cardiac deaths occur suddenly, the result of a heart attack that is manifested by an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. With the passage of SB 102 Georgia joins several states that have designated hospitals that are expert in cardio­vascular disease care, much in the way that Georgia has designated stroke and trauma centers.

We truly believe once these emer­gency cardiac care centers are iden­tified and designated, we can have a major impact on reducing deaths of patients who have heart attacks.

I want you to know my office located in 228 of the State Capitol is always open to you. You may also call me at 404-656-5099 and if I’m not available my assistant, Leigh Goff, will be happy to help you, or you can email me tom.mccall@house.ga.gov.

I hope you will always feel at home at your state capitol.

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