On Monday, January 30th, we reconvened for a hectic fourth week of the 2017 session. Committee and subcommittee hearings were in full swing as we considered various bills. We also addressed measures dealing with public safety and agriculture on the House floor.
Public Safety Measures
Last week we passed two initiatives in the House that will benefit Georgia's public safety sector and keep us in line with federal regulations. The first was House Bill 38 which would distinguish a three-wheeled vehicle that is controlled by a steering wheel from a motorcycle which is controlled by handlebars. This bill would also update licensing requirements for drivers of three-wheeled motor vehicles. Federal safety standards qualify three-wheeled motor vehicles, equipped with steering wheels, as automobiles. However, current Georgia law considers all three-wheeled vehicles as motorcycles. HB 38 would require drivers of these three-wheeled automobiles with steering wheels to obtain Class C commercial driver's licenses rather than Class M motorcycle license.
The second measure passed was House Bill 58. This legislation would update the reference date in Georgia law to the federal regulations regarding the safe operation of motor carriers and commercial motor vehicles. HB 58 would update the effective date to January 1, 2017 and keep us in line with federal regulations.
HB 49 protects farmers from fraudulent practices that occur while selling and acquiring livestock, especially online, while closing regulatory gaps. Georgia law currently requires livestock market operators and dealers to obtain livestock dealer licenses; however, these licenses have no expiration date and no fee association, making it impossible for the Department of AG to track the number of licensed livestock dealers in our state. As a result, Georgia farmers are often taken advantage of by fraudulent dealers.
The legislation requires the following:
* Requires licensed livestock dealers and auction operators to apply for and obtain a license from the AG Commissioner every three years.
* Requires the Commissioner of AG to publish the names and locations of licensed individuals online and in writing.
* Revises language on what defines a "livestock dealer" and "surety," or a letter of credit, certificate of deposit or other written document guaranteeing the faithful performance of the terms of the contract purchase.
* Allows the Department of AG to charge a $25 triennial fee for livestock dealers and livestock order buyers.
* Allows a triennial fee not to exceed $200 for livestock markets based on the surety requirement.
If approved by the Senate and signed by Governor Deal, the requirements of HB 49 will promote greater consistency and transparency within our AG industry, which generates over $71 billion annually into Georgia's economy.
On Tuesday, we remembered and recognized the lives of two courageous officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. Peach County Sheriff's Deputy Daryl Smallwood and Sgt. Patrick Sondron were both shot and killed while responding to a call on November 6 of last year. House resolutions were offered honoring each officer to the families of Deputy Smallwood and Sgt. Sondron. Their colleagues also joined us in the House chamber as we paid tribute to the lives of these brave officers and commended the ultimate sacrifice they made to their community and to the state of Georgia.
|Senator Tonya Anderson and a fantastic group of pages