The Union Recorder

March 18, 2013

Sen. Jones speaks on Senate progress

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — State Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson) said the chamber worked late on last Thursday’s Crossover Day debating almost 30 bills. He expects a busy closing legislative session stretch.

“Moving forward, we will begin taking up bills from the House and working on compromises between similar legislation in conference committees,” Jones said in a March 11 press release.

Jones presented his first two pieces of legislation pertaining to insurance, which both passed favorably. 

Senate Bill 234 authorizes the state insurance commissioner to issue an individual or business entity with a limited lines travel insurance producer license. The District 25 senator also presented Senate Bill 236, which states whenever a health insurer increases a premium the insurer must provide a notice explaining how much of the increase is attributable to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

The bill was amended to include that the commissioner of Community Health must notify those on the State Health Benefit Plan with the increases. 

“We know we are going to have an increase and want to be transparent with Georgia citizens to be able to show them what the ACA is going to do to insurance premiums,” Jones said.

The senator serves as vice chair for the state institutions and property committee. Jones said progress on the Fall Line Regional Development Authority’s Baldwin and Wilkinson County joint industrial park project is paramount.

Plans for an industrial park at the intersection of Highway 441 and the Fall Line Freeway are realistic.

This will be a jointly owned park by the two communities and has a funding mechanism of $50,000 per year that is dedicated for the authority.

The timeline to buy land for the park lasts until the next state legislative session ending in 2014. Cost negotiations are ongoing.

“I have met with the groups pertaining to the freeway and am seeing the best way to get that property under our control,” Jones said.

Identifying the property’s worth is the hold up. Atlanta and Wilkinson County appraisers’ numbers don’t match up.

“We’ve got to find a common number to trade on,” the senator said.

People licensed to carry a firearm could bring their guns in bars, churches and school areas under legislation given initial approval last Thursday by Georgia lawmakers. House Bill 512 has not been placed in a senate committee yet, according to Jones.

Under the plan school administrators could arm employees, a move that Republican backers say would deter attacks on school. The University System of Georgia is split on the idea of students carrying firearms.

“No. 1 I’m for our second amendment rights to bear arms and don’t want to do anything to weaken our laws,” Jones said. “We want to listen to all sides involved and make sure we are doing the right thing for all citizens.”

Georgia continues backing up its strong gun state mentality with Senate Bill 101 that removes “burdensome” reporting requirements for firearms dealers and recognizes out-of-state weapons carry licenses in Georgia.

The bill, now in the House, also prohibits the state from creating and maintaining a database of weapons carry license holders. It lowers the age from 21 to 18 for activity duty military, with specific training, to obtain a carry license as well.

In the remaining legislative days the General Assembly is working to balance the state budget.

The Senate and House agreed on the FY2013 amended budget, totaling $19.3 billion in total state funds. Jones said appropriations members would continue analyzing the proposed $19.8 billion FY2014 budget. 

Jones plans on visiting with the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority and Georgia College President Dr. Steve Dorman in the coming weeks.

“I’m looking forward to seeing those guys and having them tell me what their plans are for future growth in Milledgeville,” Jones said. 

Citizens with questions or concerns are encouraged to contact the senator’s office at (404) 656-0082 or via email at burt.jones@senate.ga.gov. 

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