On Monday, January 30th, the Georgia House of Representatives resumed their responsibilities for the 2017 Legislative Session. Committee and subcommittee hearings were taking place as we worked together to pass legislation to improve and maintain the quality of life in our communities. There are various bills currently making their way through the legislative process, and we are working hard to consider the needs and desires of the people of Georgia as we go.

This week, the House unanimously passed legislation that will help keep Georgia roadways safe:

  1. House Bill 38 – This bill has to do with distinguishing three-wheeled vehicles that are controlled by a steering wheel, such as a Polaris Slingshot, from a motorcycle which is controlled by handlebars. Federal safety standards consider three-wheeled motor vehicles as automobiles, but current Georgia law considers them as motorcycles. HB 38 would require license updates for drivers of three-wheeled motor vehicles, meaning drivers of these three-wheeled vehicles would be required to obtain Class C commercial driver’s licenses instead of Class M motorcycle licenses. Georgia drivers carrying the appropriate license for the vehicle they are operating will help make safer roadways throughout the state of Georgia. This legislation will still need to make it through the Senate before being approved, but I look forward to the peace of mind its passing could bring for Georgia drivers.
  2. House Bill 58 – This legislation would update the reference date in Georgia law to the federal regulations regarding the safe operation of motor carriers and commercial motor vehicles. Currently, Georgia law states that these regulations were put in place as of January 1, 2016, and HB 58 would change that to state that the effective date was January 1, 2017. This legislation is being considered for the sake of consistency between our state and federal regulations.

In addition to safer roadways, the House also passed House Bill 49 to protect Georgia’s largest industry: the agriculture industry. HB 49 does a number of things:

  • The legislation states that all licensed livestock dealers and auction operators must apply for and obtain a license from the Commissioner of Agriculture. This license would need to be renewed every three years to maintain and protect livestock producers from fraudulent activity.
  • The legislation would also require the Commissioner of Agriculture to maintain a published list of the names and locations of these licensed livestock dealers online. Due to the current method of maintaining these licenses, the Georgia Department of Agriculture is unable to track the number of licensed livestock dealers in the state of Georgia, and arguably more importantly, unable to track the financial health of those dealers.
  • The legislation would revise the definition of a “livestock dealer” and “surety,” or a letter of credit, in order to protect Georgia’s hardworking farmers and to make sure there are no chances of them being taken advantage of.
  • The legislation would allow the Georgia Department of Agriculture to charge a triennial fee of $25 for livestock dealers and livestock order buyers, as well as a triennial fee for livestock markets based on the surety required, but would not exceed $200.

With agriculture being the largest industry in our state, any changes to help protect our farmers and make what our laws say more consistent make me very proud and excited to see how those changes play out moving forward.

As my colleagues and I work hard to make changes to the legislation that improves the lives of the districts we represent, it is also important for us to take time to honor the people we are privileged to serve. On Tuesday, we honored the lives of two officers who courageously lost their lives in the line of duty. Peach County Sheriff’s Deputy Daryl Smallwood and Sgt. Patrick Sondron both lost their lives in an incident on November 6th of last year. House resolutions honoring each officer to the officers’ families were presented by State Representative Robert Dickey. It was honor to be proud of a group of individuals who paused to pay tribute to the lives of these two brave officers.

This week, the House adopted an adjournment resolution that set an end date for the remainder of the 40-day session. Day 40 of the 2017 Legislative Session will be Thursday, March 30th. 40 days might seem like a long time, but it means my colleagues and I will be working hard to reach decisions and create legislation that we feels best represents the desires of our great state. I hope that you will continue to reach out to me with any questions, comments, or concerns as we move forward through this process. I am always willing and eager to discuss these matters with you.

As legislation progresses and the pace of our work quickens, I would still love to hear questions, comments, and concerns from you, the members of District 73. You are welcome to visit me at my office located at 607-F Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.Atlanta, GA 30334. You may also feel free to call me at 404.656.0287 or send me an email at karen.mathiak@house.ga.gov. You can also stay up-to-date by following my Facebook page.

Thank you for letting me continue to serve and represent you.

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