Senate Marks Annual Crossover Day
Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) explains numerous bills that were considered in their primary houses on Crossover Day.
Last week, the General Assembly marked Crossover Day–the final day a bill can be considered in its primary house before moving to the opposite chamber. With just 10 legislative days left to conduct the people’s business, legislators wasted little time in adopting a broad range of measures ranging from welfare reform to protecting our children.
Although dozens of bills made their way through the legislative process on Wednesday, they still have to pass their final litmus test–the Georgia House of Representatives. After passage in both chambers, each piece of legislation will then land on the Governor’s desk for final approval.
In addition to the bills under consideration from the House, the Senate is currently reviewing the House’s proposed $19.2 billion dollar budget and reconciling any differences between the House and Senate versions.
One of the first bills to pass during Crossover week was Senate SB 321, which passed by a vote of 44 to 5. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, copper theft costs the national economy approximately $1 billion per year. With the rising incidence of metal theft throughout Georgia, the General Assembly saw an increased need to adopt legislation aimed at enforcing stricter penalties, maintaining transparent record-keeping and mandating additional requirements for the selling and transport of metals. This legislation was a step in the right direction toward protecting Georgia businesses and families.
Senate Bill 431 passed the Senate unanimously on Monday. This bill would classify medical identity fraud as a felony offense in Georgia. Furthermore, any person who willfully and fraudulently uses another person’s identifying information for the purpose of obtaining medical care, prescription drugs, or financial gain, without that person’s authorization or consent will be prosecuted. This statue includes deceased persons, fictitious persons, and children under 18 over whom the accused has custodial authority. If enacted into law, this bill would help protect the citizens of Georgia from medical identity fraud.
On Wednesday, the Georgia Senate adopted several pieces of legislation to reform Georgia’s welfare system. Senate Bill 292, which I sponsored, passed the Senate by a vote of 35 to 18. According to this legislation, recipients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Welfare program would be required to undergo drug-screening as a pre-requisite to receive welfare benefits. If enacted, this legislation would change the way Georgia operates state-run welfare programs by ushering in a new era of social responsibility and accountability. True compassion is doing what’s best for people, not what’s easiest. At its core, SB 292 will help ensure the proper allocation of taxpayer-funded TANF benefits and prevent these funds from being diverted to illicit drug use.
Senate Bill 312 also passed the Senate on Wednesday by a vote of 40 to 14. This bill would require recipients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to work toward a general educational development diploma (GED), pursue technical education, attend self-development classes, enroll in an adult literacy classes, or pursue other similar professional growth activities. The ultimate goal of this legislation is aimed at lessening the public’s dependency on government entitlement programs while also encouraging a greater measure of self-sufficiency and personal accountability.
Another bill to win Senate approval and make its way to the House is Senate Bill 460. This bill, which passed the Senate 38 to 15, would offer religious employers an exemption from the federal health insurance mandate requiring contraceptive coverage. This legislation was adopted in response to President Obama’s contraceptive mandate, which would force religious institutions to violate their core beliefs by including contraceptive coverage as part of their health insurance plans.
The Senate also passed SB 355 on Wednesday. This legislation would provide a greater level of accountability in cases of suspected child abuse by extending the reporting requirement beyond those directly responsible for the child’s care. Under this legislation, an individual must provide a detailed, oral report to law enforcement no later than 72 hours after the alleged incident. Communications between an attorney and their clients are exempt from this reporting requirement. Members of the clergy are also exempt from this mandatory reporting requirement when the information reported is considered confidential.
SB 473, which passed unanimously, would allow active duty or reserve service members to be eligible for the Purple Heart license tag. Currently, the Purple Heart license tag is only available to discharged veterans who received a Purple Heart citation. This is great legislation because it recognizes the many sacrifices that our military men and women make on a daily basis to defend our freedom.
Senate Bill 458, which passed by a 34 to 19 vote, would require the verified citizen status of all applicants for public benefits. According to federal code, post-secondary education is listed as a public benefit and therefore requires applicants to present a secure and verifiable document. Under SB 458, all applicants would be required to submit valid verification documents up to nine months before the application deadline. Once citizen status is verified, individuals who have complied with all requirements do not have to show documentation upon re-application. This legislation would ensure that Georgia is in compliance with federal law.
In the upcoming weeks, please feel free to join me at one of my town hall meetings. Together, we can make a difference by keeping the issues that matter most to Georgians alive and open for public discussion. I sincerely appreciate your feedback and look forward to seeing you there.
-Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell)
Albers represents the 56th Senate District, which includes portions of North Fulton County. With the new redistricing maps, the State Senate district 56 will cover portions of Woodstock.