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The debating & voting of issues continue in General Assembly

As this session draws to a close, the General Assembly continues to debate and vote on issues of importance to our state. Most of what my colleagues and I passed in the House were bills whose intent was to increase safety for Georgians in several professional fields.
Senate Bill 36 strives to improve public health and safety by consolidating available prescription information for doctors and pharmacists. Currently, Georgia physicians do not have the ability to know if their patients are seeing other doctors.  As a result, some patients engage in “doctor shopping,” or will visit several different doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions for similar medications. Also, each time a prescription is filled, pharmacists are required to register that prescription information with the Georgia Drugs and Narcotics Agency. SB 36 streamlines this process by establishing an electronic database of the prescribing and dispensing of Schedule II, III, IV, and V controlled substances in Georgia. As a result, doctors and pharmacists will be better able to identify prescription drug abusers.  In turn, abusers will be able to get the help they need and prescription drugs will have less of a chance to end up in the wrong hands with potentially dangerous outcomes.
Senate Bill 94 is another safety measure and relates to criminal liability for service providers that knowingly harbor runaway youth. SB 94 creates a limited exception to criminal liability by allowing the provider to offer the runaway child necessary care and protection without the risk of criminal prosecution. To fall under this exception, the provider must have reasonable cause to believe the minor has been abused or neglected and must report the child abuse. Additionally, the service provider must either attempt to inform a guardian of the child or contact the Division of Family services within 72 hours after assisting the child.  Further, these service provider organizations must register with the Department of Human Services or a child welfare agency.  Ultimately, this measure will allow organizations to help young victims of abuse in extreme cases without fear of criminal charges.
We also passed Senate Resolution 312 enacting the General Assembly’s support for harbor deepening efforts in Savannah. With the expansion of the Panama Canal expected in 2014, large ships have already begun looking for accessible ports along the U.S. East Coast. To stay competitive, ports in the Southeast must be deepened so that they can accommodate these larger container ships which require deepwater ports. To assist in securing funding for the project, the General Assembly passed SR 312 to reiterate Georgia’s commitment to the continued growth and economic well being of our ports, and promoting greater economic growth in our state.
The General Assembly will be out this week so that families can enjoy Spring Break for most school systems. This break will also give legislators time to hear from constituents on various issues before session ends the week of April 11. The final day of session will fall on Thursday, April 14. In the meantime, please feel free to contact my office with concerns or opinions by phone at (404) 656-5099, or through email at jon.burns@house.ga.gov

Jon Burns represents Screven County as part of his District 157 of the Georgia State House of Representatives.