On Monday, January 27, the General Assembly returned to the Gold Dome for the third week of the 2020 legislative session. The House met every day this week to take up business, and spend time in our committees and subcommittees carefully reviewing proposed legislation and listening to testimonies from area experts. By the end of our third week of session, my colleagues and I passed several House bills out of our respective committees that could soon be considered for a vote on the House floor. Here is a summary of all that we accomplished during our week 3 Legislative Session. 

 

Georgia Commission on Freight & Logistics

During the 2019 Session, the House adopted House Resolution 37 and established the Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics. This commission was authorized to analyze and recommend a comprehensive public policy that would support our freight and logistics industries and work to identify ways to move freight more efficiently to spur economic growth and job creation in our state. 

This week, the Joint House and Senate Transportation Committee approved the Georgia Commission on Freight & Logistics’ final report and legislative recommendations. The commission’s proposal seeks to address top issues that were identified last year, such as workforce development, truck parking, freight rail investment, and funding gaps. The commission recommended that their work be extended through 2020 to continue to develop solutions for some of these key issues. As a result, the House Transportation Committee approved House Resolution 935 this week, which would reauthorize the commission for the 2020 calendar year.

 

 House Rural Development Council

Last year we also adopted House Resolution 214 that reauthorized the House Rural Development Council, and over the last year, the council continued its work to find solutions to improve economic opportunities in rural areas of the state. 

This year the council submitted several legislative recommendations that would continue to support communities and businesses in rural Georgia. These recommendations include supporting our agriculture industry, which is one of our state’s largest industries, as well as expanding funding for rural broadband deployment and addressing mapping issues that currently overestimate the amount of broadband coverage across the state. The council also proposed solutions for providing adequate health care by creating tax incentives for rural physicians and developing a state-funded residency program to bring health care workers to rural areas.

 

Committee on Maternal Mortality 

In 2019 we also adopted House Resolution 589 to create the House Study Committee on Maternal Mortality to study the state’s high maternal mortality rate and issues that impact maternal health. Each of these groups issued in-depth final reports that included policy recommendations, which will guide us as we craft sound and effective legislation this session. Some of these recommendations were presented in committees this week, and several pieces of legislation have already been introduced this session as a result of their dedicated work. 

The study committee’s final reports include several strategies designed to decrease and prevent maternal deaths in Georgia. Some of these strategies are extending Georgia’s Medicaid coverage for pregnant and postpartum women and introducing legislation that would mandate a postmortem examination for any maternal death. The study committee also seeks to increase accessibility to health care for pregnant and postpartum women through telehealth services. Maternal health is and will remain a top priority in the House during the 2020 session, and these recommendations will guide us as we focus our legislative efforts to prevent maternal mortality.

 

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

This week, my colleagues and I also observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday, January 27, 2020, which marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. To honor the lives that were lost during the Holocaust, the General Assembly passed legislation during the 2019 session to create a memorial in the State Capitol. Members of the General Assembly, along with Israel Consul General Anat Sultan-Dadon, joined together to unveil the new memorial this week. This tribute in the State Capitol will serve as an important reminder that we should never forget the events of the Holocaust, and it will educate Georgia citizens to help ensure that such atrocities are never committed again.


House Bill 276 

Finally, on Thursday, January 30, Gov. Kemp signed the first major piece of legislation of the 2020 session. House Bill 276 was passed via a conference committee report during our first week of session and allows the state to collect taxable revenue from marketplace facilitators whose online platforms or apps are used to sell goods or services. The new revenue will be collected from marketplace facilitators who collect in excess of $100,000 or more annually. This new law will go into effect on April 1st and will help level the playing field for small brick-and-mortar businesses that currently have sale tax charged to their products.

 

Next week is sure to be even busier at the State Capitol as we enter into the fourth week of the legislative session. My colleagues and I will continue to take up meaningful legislation in our committees and on the House floor in the coming weeks, so I encourage you to provide me with your input and thoughts on any proposed legislation that is important to you. You are always welcome to visit my Capitol office, which is located at 608-D Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg, anytime. You can also reach me by phone at 404-656-0298 or by email at karen.mathiak@house.ga.gov or you can check out my Facebook PageAs always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.

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