Greetings from under the Gold Dome!
Eight weeks have come and gone, as we completed our busiest week of the 2019 session thus far. Last Thursday brought, “Cross Over Day,” which began in the chamber that morning, and went late into the evening as we worked to pass legislation for the betterment of our great state. Cross Over Day is a critical deadline in the General Assembly, as it is the last day a piece of legislation can pass its original chamber and remain eligible for consideration prior to adjournment. All measures passing the House, are now under consideration in the Senate, including two measures, both passing last Thursday which mean a great deal to me, personally. Out of all the Cross Over Day’s, in which I have been honored to participate, this particular day will remain rooted in memory for years to come.
Georgia’s Hope Act
I am personally pleased to report that our blood, sweat, tears and prayers on behalf of Georgia patients has yielded positive results with the passage of House Bill 324, Georgia’s Hope Act.
The passage of Haleigh’s Hope in 2015, which allowed certain patients to legally possess Low THC Medical Cannabis oil did bring “hope,” as this was a natural alternative to the more dangerously addictive, traditionally prescribed opioid based pain medications. However, no legal means to obtain the newly allowable medicine meant that the 8,000 registered eligible patients were forced to either break federal law by bringing oil illegally across state lines or suffer in pain.
I can’t tell you how personal this issue has become for me, as a legislator. Meeting and getting to know those suffering from debilitating pain with no relief; watching children battle life threatening seizures daily; seeing the pain in the eyes of a parent running out of options, made my decision to support these initiatives very easy. As a father, if put in a similar situation, I would choose my child’s health any day, over the consequence federal law. But no parent should have to make that choice. Before long, my colleagues and I were on a mission to advocate on behalf of these patients and families who were denied access to treatment, even though said treatment was now “legal.”
House Bill 324 is the result from many years of working to legally bring relief to our Georgia patients through the use of Low THC Medical Cannabis Oil. If passed into law, this Act would allow for the cultivation, manufacturing and dispensing of low THC oil with a lawful valid license issued by an oversight board. Stipulations of the bill are as follows:
• Issuance of two classes of licenses to produce, grow and manufacture low THC oil in Georgia.
• Issuance of separate retail licenses for qualified Georgia applicants by January 1, 2020.
• Creates a seed-to-sale tracking system.
• Require facility inspections and sample testing of medical cannabis oil products.
The passage of HB 324 means that these individuals will no longer need to choose between suffering in physical pain or suffering in moral consciousness. We look forward to working in unison with our colleagues in the Senate to ensure this measure receives a fair hearing. I would like to say a huge thanks to my brothers and sisters in the Georgia House, who stood by me every step of the way in bringing this legislation forth. These individuals carried the burden, adversity and obligation with me as we fought on behalf of these families. We will begin our work with the Senate this week and we look forward to seeing final passage into law.
Following the passage of Georgia’s Hope Act, came another meaningful bill in the form of House Bill 481. When I first set out to be of service to our district in the General Assembly, I did so with a promise to you and a personal commitment to God, to always choose life, if and when the opportunity presented itself.
In recent months, we have seen the likes of New York, Virginia and other states “celebrate” the passage of bills allowing of late term abortions. Some of these allowances extend as far to the termination of one’s pregnancy, up to the actual due date. But as we all know, there is always a grander plan at play. I sincerely believe, it was the passage of these bills which led thousands, both Republicans and Democrats to say, “ENOUGH.”
I can’t even begin to tell you the number of calls and emails we received pleading for us to act on behalf of LIFE, here in Georgia. While it greatly saddens me that other states would not only allow, but celebrate such barbaric acts, I do believe this was one way to shine a divine light on this issue and bring it to the forefront of debate within our state legislatures.
Since the introduction, passage and celebration of these late-term-abortion bills, several states across our great nation began passing “heartbeat bills,” in response. Heartbeat bills, once considered to be far too “extreme,” are now passing like wildfire in state legislatures. It brings me great joy to report that last Thursday, after hours of heated debate, your Georgia House of Representatives chose LIFE. House Bill 481 would not allow an abortion procedure in Georgia once a doctor detects a heartbeat. This bill is said to be one of the toughest anti-abortion bills brought forth in the United States.
Opponents of the measure have already vowed to take the bill, if passed, through the judicial process. While we have no idea how the inevitable and eventual Supreme Court ruling on abortion practices and procedures will turn out- we do know this. When pushed to choose between the right to life or death, the outcry of Georgians, reflected by the vote of their Representatives, chose LIFE. Now THAT… is something to celebrate. I have complete faith that with the full support and backing of Gov. Brian Kemp, this bill will see final passage in the Senate.
As you can see, we had a very productive last week. The excitement will continue as we finish our remaining few days on Capitol Hill. This week, we began reviewing all Senate bills making the Cross Over deadline. As always, I will keep you updated on these measures, as well as others. Thank you for your unwavering support and much needed prayers you have sent through the years. You have no idea how much your kind actions have meant to me and our family. May God bless you and may he continue to bless the great state of Georgia!