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Leaders author variety of bills
Several items have passed either chamber
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Forsyth County News
Not many stones have been left unturned by Forsyth’s delegation this legislative session, including abortion, euthanasia, water conservation and text messaging.

The state’s budget continues to be the greatest priority for legislators. But hundreds of other bills have made it through either the House or Senate, including several from Forsyth’s leaders.

Third time was a charm for District 24 state Rep. Tom Knox, R-Cumming. After three years of trying, Knox’s dog and cat euthanasia bill, HB 788, has passed out of the House and is awaiting a Senate vote. The bill essentially bans the use of gas chambers to euthanize household pets.

“There’s only about 10 jurisdictions in the whole state that still operate gas chambers,” he said. “I’ve got four dogs, so I love animals. I wanted to do what I could to be able to help at least have humane euthanasia for dogs and cats, and the gas chamber was declared to not be a humane way.”

District 9 state Rep. Amos Amerson, R-Dahlonega, avoided introducing any statewide legislation.

“The ones I push through are locally related in some way,” he said.

Amerson’s HB 1057, which allows local legislators to establish a clerk of magistrate court, passed the House.

“It’s important because of a lawsuit in Lumpkin County between the magistrate judge and the clerk of superior court,” Amerson said.

District 27 state Sen. Jack Murphy, R-Cumming, has a message for Georgia residents who want to drive — learn English.

His Senate Bill 67 would mandate that driver’s license exams be offered in English only.

“We don’t need to be giving the driver’s license test in 12 different languages. I can’t go to Germany, Italy, France, China or any of these other countries and get a license [test] given to me in English,” Murphy said. “I think the bill will probably incentivize people to learn more of the English language.”

Murphy is also the author of a bill preventing people from sending text messages while driving. He calls the measure “one of the most important bills that I’ve ever had passed.”

“It’s going to change Georgia law and it’s going to save lives in the state,” he said.

District 23 state Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming, also authored a driving bill.

Hamilton said a constituent approached him about a ticket he received for driving without wearing corrective lenses, as his license indicated he needed.

“He had Lasik surgery several years prior, and even though he could prove he had 20/20 vision at the time of the infraction … under state law, they had to suspend his driver’s license for six months,” Hamilton said. “This really is a common sense bill.”

The bill prevents drivers from losing their license for six months, provided they can prove they received vision improvement surgery.

District 51 state Sen. Chip Pearson, R-Dawsonville, had multiple bills pass through the Senate.

Among them was a bill to boost expansion of existing reservoirs, a bill allowing for private operation and ownership of new public water facilities, and one preventing microchips from being unwillingly implanted into a person.

Another of his bills would define certain acts as criminal abortion, including performing an abortion if a woman has been coerced because of the child’s race, color or gender, or if the mother is seeking the abortion to prevent the child from being born because of race, color or gender.

Pearson could not be reached for comment.

Hamilton is hopeful his bills, which also include a state Board of Transportation ethics measure, will make it through the legislative process and ultimately become law. But for now, the session remains “a very difficult one for all legislators because of the very difficult economic reality that we are going through.”

Amerson said the budget woes have made for a “tiring session.”

“Just the tension … the lack of money, the e-mails and phone calls of people that expect you to balance the budget, but not by bothering them,” he said. “This has been the most tiring session I’ve had in 10 years.”