Gold Dome Update 
Highlights from the House 
Week Eight
Eight weeks have come and gone, as we completed our busiest week of the 2018 session, thus far. Last Wednesday brought, “Cross Over Day,” which began in the chamber that morning, and ended around 1 AM on Thursday. Cross Over Day is a critical deadline in the General Assembly, as it is the last day a piece of legislation can pass its original chamber and remain eligible for consideration by the opposite legislative chamber. All measures passing the House, are now under consideration in the Senate.
Rural Revitalization
Last week, we continued our rural revitalization efforts by passing House Bills 951 and 887.

House Bill 951
If passed into law, HB 951 would create the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation (CRPI) to serve as a central information and research hub for rural leadership training. Community planning models, best practices, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts will be addressed through the CRPI. The center, located within a chosen University System of Georgia institution, will also award Bachelor of Science degrees in rural community development. Further, the bill creates a 12-member Georgia Rural Development Council which will be responsible for guiding the center on needs to address issues and problems affecting rural economic development, education, unemployment and infrastructure. The bill designates a deputy commissioner for rural Georgia under the Department of Economic Development. Serving as a rural “think tank,” we are confident that the CRPI will bring valuable resources and offer viable solutions to address the challenges which face the less populated areas of our state.

House Bill 887
Broadband access concerns would be addressed through the passage HB 887, if signed into law. The bill would expand broadband and other communication services across the state by establishing the Georgia Communications Services Tax Act. The act would require public communication providers to meet certain criteria prior to working in underserved areas. HB 887 also allows municipal corporations and electrical membership corporations (EMCs) to provide broadband service in unserved areas within its corporate limits. Additionally, the bill allows communities to apply for a “broadband ready” certificate through the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA). Finally, HB 887 would regulate an authority's pole attachment rate.
Medical Cannabis Oil Expansion
Those in favor of expanding Georgia’s medical cannabis oil program, remain optimistic with the passage House Bill 764. The measure, which received overwhelming bipartisan support, adds PTSD and intractable pain to the current list of qualifying medical conditions allowed to be treated under our states low THC oil program. Upon a doctor’s recommendation, eligible individuals seeking this type of treatment, will be required to sign-up under our state’s THC Oil Registry. Individuals could legally possess a maximum of 20 fluid ounces of cannabis oil with a maximum of 5 percent THC. 
Hidden Predator Act
Last week, we unanimously voted to expand Georgia’s Hidden Predator Act. House Bill 605 would hold accountable negligent individuals or entities, who conceal the act of child abuse. Expansions under the bill are as follows:
  • Extends the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse cases from age 23 to age 38.
  • Lengthens the discovery period from two years to four years for victims experiencing psychological or emotional problems because of sexual abuse.
  • Establishes a one-year period for an abuse victim to file civil actions against an entity if: the entity was responsible for the victim’s care; knew or should have known of the conduct that brought about the civil action; or intentionally or consciously concealed evidence of sexual abuse.

Changes to this law align us with scientific research and past cases dealing with sexual abuse charges, acknowledging that the effects of childhood sexual abuse often don’t surface until a victim reaches adulthood.
Distracted Driving
Sadly, cell phone usage while driving has led to record breaking numbers of traffic fatalities and accidents nationwide. House Bill 673 works to address public safety concerns by establishing Georgia’s hands-free driving law. HB 673 would prohibit drivers from holding, supporting or reaching for a wireless telecommunication device or a stand-alone electronic device while operating a vehicle. This measure also bans drivers from the following: texting; browsing the internet; watching videos; recording videos. Drivers will be permitted to use GPS navigation and voice-to-text features on their devices. Those convicted of violating the hands-free law would be fined and charged with a misdemeanor. Further, first-time offenders would receive a 2-point deduction on their driver’s license and establishes a staggered point deduction system for repeat offenders. The law would not apply to:
  • Those in a vehicle lawfully parked
  • Those reporting an emergency or a hazardous road condition
  • Utility service providers, law enforcement officers or first responders operating who are working 
Sponsored Legislation
We also passed House Bill 843 in further support of our military communities. The bill allows for counties containing a federal military installation, with at least 5,000 federal or military personnel, and a government owned and operated industrial park to qualify for tax credits that apply to business enterprises in less developed areas.

Thank you to David Cline for serving as my page last week!
Beginning this week, we will review all Senate legislation sent our way! As last week brought to an end 29 of our allotted 40 legislative days, we head into the final stretch. I will continue to update you for the remainder of our time on Capitol Hill. If you need anything at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me anytime. Thank you for allowing me the pleasure of representing our district interests under the Gold Dome as we continue to work together for simple, smart and effective government.

Shaw Blackmon
Representative of Georgia's 146th House District

Pictured Below:
It was a pleasure to welcome Joshua Jenkins and Aria Jenkins to the House, where they served as pages for a day!
Representative Shaw Blackmon
District 146
Phone: 404-656-0177
Address: 501-E Coverdell Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

Rep. Shaw Blackmon represents District 146. He currently serves as a Deputy Whip and as a member of Ways & Means, Economic Development and Tourism, Special Rules, Insurance and
Governmental Affairs Committees. Shaw is also a member of the Military Affairs Working Group.