Senate focuses on big issues


We are well into the 2008 legislative session now, and we have finished 14 days of the required 40 legislative days of business. The pace is increasing daily as senators and representatives introduce new bills, meet in committee, and debate and vote on legislation in chamber.

It is truly an exciting time for me to be part of the General Assembly, as we look to plan for Georgia’s future needs, whether it is better transportation, a plentiful water supply or better access to healthcare. This week, I’d like to discuss some of the big pieces of legislation that I have focused on thus far.

The Senate and House have passed the Statewide Water Management Plan, and Governor Perdue signed the legislation [Feb. 5]. The plan is the culmination of years of work by the Georgia Water Council, and it identifies a set of statewide water management policies that will guide sustainable use of Georgia’s water resources.

While it is not a plan to address the drought conditions we currently are experiencing, the implementation of the water plan will ensure that future water needs will be met while protecting natural systems and preserving opportunities for future generations of Georgians to grow as well.

As chairman of the Senate Government Oversight Committee, we considered some very important pieces of legislation recently that will affect the future of Grady Hospital in Atlanta. My colleague, Sen. David Shafer of Duluth, presented three bills that passed through the committee.

Senate Resolution 722 creates the Grady Oversight Committee, and Senate Bill 353 accompanies the resolution, stating that no member of that Oversight Committee may have any financial tie to the hospital or any major vendors to the hospital. Another measure, SR 748, urges Grady to consider changing its healthcare benefits plan to encourage employees to use the hospital for primary healthcare. This would save Grady Hospital thousands of dollars annually.

The governor announced another healthcare initiative recently which will insure more Georgia citizens by expanding the availability and affordability of high-deductible health plans and health care savings accounts throughout the state.

SB 383 sets forth income tax deductions and small business tax incentives to make health savings accounts (HSAs) coupled with health insurance more affordable and available in the Georgia insurance market.

On behalf of the governor, I was pleased to introduce legislation to establish an identity theft task force within the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). Earlier this year, Gov. Perdue included $1 million in his budget proposal to fund the task force, which will combat identity theft on several fronts, including investigating alleged identity theft, educating the public, supporting victims and training local law enforcement in combating identity theft.

SB 388 will enable the GBI to add eight investigative positions to the ID Theft Task Force to combat identity theft statewide.

As always, please contact me in my office and let me know your opinions, your ideas and your concerns.

[Sen. Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone) represents the 16th Senate District, which includes Lamar and Pike counties and portions of Fayette, Monroe and Spalding counties. He may be reached by phone at 404-651-7738 or via email at]

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