As we approach the final ten days of session, we continue to pass meaningful legislation that deals with public safety and improving the quality of our state’s transportation system. From honoring and protecting our brave public safety officers to ensuring that Georgia’s roads remain safe for all drivers, I will continue working with my colleagues to pass meaningful legislation that will positively impact the lives of Georgians for years to come.

 

In honor of the public safety officers who put their lives on the line each day, the Senate unanimously passed my “Blue Alert” bill which will create a state-wide alert system to speed the apprehension of violent criminals who kill or seriously injure local, state, or federal law enforcement officers. Georgia’s law enforcement personnel are our first line of defense when it comes to public safety. When a peace officer is injured or killed, we must do all we can to apprehend the criminal immediately. I am encouraged by the way my peers have rallied around all law enforcement and public safety officers throughout the state by passing a multitude of bills that will help these brave men and women.

 

A sad story from Morgan County prompted an important piece of legislation that has the potential to save many lives. Senate Bill 360, also known as Caleb’s Law, is named in honor Caleb Sorohan, an 18 year old from Dahlonega who died nine days before Christmas after his car crossed the centerline of a rural Morgan County road and ran into a truck carrying horses. It was determined that he had had been texting while driving. This legislation attempts to prevent needless wrecks and deaths that can occur when drivers text while behind the wheel. SB 360 will prohibit use of a mobile phone for writing, sending, or reading a text-based message while operating a motor vehicle. The bill amends current code section to make texting while driving illegal for all Georgia drivers: both teenagers and adults. Many high school students from Morgan County played an active role in lobbying for the passage of Senate Bill 360 in memory of Caleb. We are only blessed with one life and I find it vitally important to treat this gift with respect, which is why I have whole-heartedly supported this legislation from its inception and am pleased to report its successful passage out of the Senate.

 

During this week, we also made great strides in a possible expansion for our state’s rail transportation system. By passing the MARTA Rail Expansion bill, we will allow more metro Atlanta counties to utilize MARTA’s rapid rail system if they choose. The MARTA Rail Expansion bill allows for the extensions of existing rail into counties, it does not force any counties to accept MARTA or transit contracts. This could bring vital growth in economic development for our state and ease congestion, making Georgia’s roads safer.

 

I am committed to creating a culture of pride, steeped in education of our state and national history, so I authored Senate Bill 518, the Study of the Pledge of Allegiance and Georgia Flag in Schools Bill (SB 518). The United States is the greatest country in the World, founded on the principles of life, liberty and justice for all. As one of the original Thirteen Colonies, Georgia is rich in her American and state history. As Georgians, we should be proud of our heritage and the role the Pledge of Allegiance and Georgia flag has played. By learning from our history, we take on the challenges of today and work to make Georgia an even better state tomorrow.

I am honored to serve and represent the 53rd Senate District in the State Senate and as the Senate Transportation Chairman. I am working diligently to move Georgia forward for the citizens of this great state with an improved plan of economic development and transportation. As I work for you this session, please continue to contact me with your thoughts, questions and concerns.

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Sen. Jeff Mullis serves as Chairman of the Transportation Committee. He represents the 53rd Senate district which includes Chattooga, Dade, and Walker counties and portions of Catoosa County. He can be reached at his office in Atlanta at 404.656.0057 or by email at jeff.mullis@senate.ga.gov.