Week Eight: Crossover
Last week was “Crossover” week, the last chance for any bills to pass by either the House or Senate. If a bill passes at least one chamber by day 28 it can be considered by the other chamber until "Sine Die".
Of all the bills voted on this week, there were a few that stuck out to me, some good bills, some bad, and some that are in a grey area.
One bill in that grey area was House Bill 324, Georgia’s Hope Act. This bill establishes an in-state cultivation and distribution program to give registered Georgia patients access medical cannabis oil (low TCH CBD oil).
This bill creates an “Office of Low THC Oil Control” responsible for controlling and supervising the program under the Department of Public Health. This limited licenses for companies to grow, process, manufacture and sell medical cannabis in Georgia. It's important to remember that healthcare decisions should remain between patients and doctors, and I know there are many Georgians who are benefiting. Children with seizures and individuals with extreme pain who would otherwise be limited to opioids have found great relief from cannabis oil, and in that sense, I'm glad the bill passed. That being said, I along with 40 of my fellow House members voted against this bill. I chose to vote against it because it creates a crony-capitalist system where we pick winners and losers, instead of letting the free market work. This shows us again that we must be careful how we use government to "get what we want" and be careful we don't violate our own principles in doing so.
One of the better bills I saw this week and was able to vote YES on was House Bill 345, which passed unanimously in the House. HB 345 prohibits the use of shackles/leg irons on incarcerated women while in labor and immediately after postpartum.
What many might not realize is that Georgia is one of the few remaining states that still allowed for shackles on hands and ankles while a woman was giving birth during incarceration. This is a much safer and more compassionate option.
Arguably the most important bill that I was honored to vote for was HB 481, The LIFE Act, otherwise known as the heartbeat bill that recognizes if a heartbeat is used to determine the end of life, it should be used to establish when life begins. The bill passed by a slim margin of 93 to 73.
Click here to watch my speech on the House floor advocating for pro-life legislation and HB 481 https://www.facebook.com/875703902528460/posts/2000818880016951?sfns=mo
As far as NO votes go this week, one bill I strongly opposed was House Bill 346, having to do with property and landlords. The problem is that the bill creates an intervention into a private contract between individuals which is a violation of limited government principles. Although 24 of my colleagues voted against this bill with me, it is sad to see our Republican House passing bills that support government intervention in private contracts.
Amongst the excitement of hundreds of bills being voted on this week, I had the opportunity to meet with a few of the victims of some of the delayed cases by House Speaker Ralston. Some of these cases involved constituents from District 8 and I was very pleased to be able to have them come down to the Capitol this week, to speak to not only myself but the media, and have their voices heard.
Although it may seem that there isn’t much going on in terms of fighting against speaker Ralston, I am here to assure all of you I have not given up the fight. It is important that we keep fighting to make sure that these victims are not forgotten, that their voices are heard, and that this abuse of power never happens again.
As session is coming to a close I’d like to again mention my hard-working staff. Thank you to my Chief of Staff Banks Wise and my two interns Chaed Clements a Poli-Sci Major at UNG, and Bethany Streible a Poli-Sci Major at UGA and a Rabun County local!
These three work tirelessly helping me reach out to all of you, looking over bills with me, and just helping me out in any way they can. Without them, all that I accomplish during session would not be possible.
With that being said, please continue to reach out to me with any questions or concerns you may have. I am happy to help you all in any way I can and appreciate hearing any type of feedback from you all as the House votes on bills that the Senate has passed.
The 2019 Session ends April 2nd and I’m hoping that we’re able to continue to fight the good fight these last few weeks. Thank you all again for your continued support and please remember to keep up with what’s going on down here in Atlanta at www.mattgurtler.com and on my Facebook page, https://m.facebook.com/matthewgurtler/
As always it is an honor to serve,
Matt Gurtler (706) 490-2285