Sen. Steve Gooch: Update from the capitol week 5

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By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

Week five was quite productive here at the Capitol. We passed four pieces of legislation, all unanimously, and welcomed many distinguished guests. I am pleased with the efficient pace that legislation has moved through the committee process and made it to the Senate Floor, and I hope to continue this throughout the rest of session. Among the bills heard in committee last week, two bills I sponsored to address broadband expansion across the state had a hearing and passed out of committee.

On Tuesday, Senate Bill 17 passed out of the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee with unanimous, bipartisan support. SB 17, the “Rural Telephone Cooperative Act,” would allow telephone cooperatives in Statesboro, Metter, Newington and Rentz to provide internet services and broadband to their customers.

On Thursday, Senate Bill 66, the “Streamlining Wireless Facilities and Antennas Act,” passed through the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. SB 66 would modernize Georgia law by addressing the use of public right of ways by wireless providers so that 5G and future generations of cellular mobile communications may be deployed in the most efficient manner. SB 66 would streamline the process for telecommunications companies as they go through the permitting process to collocate small wireless facilities (small antennas) on existing or new poles.

This legislation has been a work in progress for the last several years and I am proud of the hard work done to get it passed through committee and onto Senate Rules. Local governments have worked with private companies to achieve a piece of legislation that we believe will benefit all parties involved. The growth of 5G technology is vital to broadband expansion throughout the state. Not only will this expansion give rural areas access to speedy wireless communication, but these benefits will also disseminate into other areas of telecommunications. If we have 5G capability throughout the state, we could improve traffic and autonomous vehicle technologies that will relieve traffic congestion in the metro-Atlanta area. 5G capability would also allow us to expand our telemedicine industry, which would create more health care resources of which rural areas can take advantage. I hope that this legislation will bring more necessary resources to rural Georgians.

Along with these two bills passing out of committee, I would like to highlight the four bills that passed out of the Senate with unanimous and bipartisan support last week:

  • SB 6 – Would make it a criminal offense to use a drone for the transportation of contraband or taking pictures or video above an incarceration facility.
  • SB 16 – Would allow Georgia to enter into the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact which would give doctors moving here from other Compact states an expedited licensing process.
  • SB 38 – Would clarify language having to do with fees for electronic filing of leaves of absences and conflict letters in court.
  • SB 52 – The annual code revision bill that makes updates regarding redundancy, punctuation, grammar and sentence structure to the Official Code of Georgia.

This week, I hope to move SB 17 and SB 66 out of the Senate Rules Committee and to the Senate Floor for a vote. If you have any questions or concerns regarding SB 17 or SB 66, the bills passed this week, future legislation or the process in general please do not hesitate to contact my office. It is always a pleasure to hear from my constituents, as I am here to represent you to the best of my abilities!

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