Last week, we were sadly reminded of the price some public safety officials pay in order to protect each citizen when we learned of Officer Mike Vogt, who was killed while on duty. Individuals, like Officer Vogt, vow to serve and protect every Georgian. As a small token of our gratitude, I strongly believe we owe them stronger, more effective laws that will adequately protect them. Last week, I introduced Senate Bill 397, the “Blue Alert” Bill, which creates a state-wide alert system to speed the apprehension of violent criminals who kill or seriously injure local, state, or federal law enforcement officers. Similar to the Amber Alert Law, a Blue Alert Law would activate the Georgia Department of Transportation message boards and other state messaging systems to notify the public when a police officer has been killed or seriously injured and the perpetrator is at large. We must continue to put the highest value on the lives of our public service officers; as our protectors they deserve our attention and our respect as we strive to make them safer.

 

We will also take a vital step in aiding the families of our public safety officers with The Jarrett Little Act (SB 414). This bill ensures that parents or siblings of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, emergency management specialist, or prison guard receive payment from the Georgia State Indemnification Fund if the deceased does not have a surviving unremarried spouse or dependents. Prior to this law, these important individuals were barred from these funds, causing pain and miles of red tape for an already grieving family. My hope is for the Jarrett Little Act to lighten the burden for grieving families and give ease to the process brokenhearted families must endure.

 

Another area of public safety of importance is the rampant price gouging that can occur in areas during a state of emergency. As lawmakers, we must make sure our citizens get the help and tools they need to stay safe during these dangerous times. Under the Pricing Practices During Emergencies Bill ( SB 237), it will be unlawful for any entity doing business in an area where a state of emergency has been declared to sell goods, services, or property necessary to preserve, protect, or sustain the life, health or safety at an unnaturally inflated price. No Georgian should fear being unable to rebuilding the roof  over their head or put food on their table, because hard hearted individuals seek to make a profit from vulnerable individuals.

 

In addition to fighting to protect our public safety officials and our citizens in times of great need, we took a moment this week to honor those responsible for saving lives every day with Emergency Medical Services Day at the State Capitol. The mission of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Trauma Section is to encourage, foster, and promote the continued development of an optimal system of emergency medical and trauma care which provides the best possible patient outcome. Hundreds of EMS workers were at the Capitol being honored for their selfless service to our great state. As former fire chief of Chickamauga, I understand the sacrifices that these men and women make for Georgia and I applaud their altruistic service to Georgia.

 

Finally I must thank the Georgia Transit Association for honoring me with the “2010 Friend of Transit” award. The GTA award is presented for the continued support and extraordinary leadership to improve public transportation throughout the state of Georgia. I am extremely humbled and look forward to working with the governor, General Assembly and GTA to solve the transportation issues facing this great state while creating jobs in this difficult economic environment

 

One of my personal goals is to ensure that Georgia is a safer place for our children, and this will be best accomplished when we place the highest value on the protection of our public safety officers. I will do all I can at the State Capitol to see that laws are put in the books that benefit those who serve and protect. I challenge you to reach out within the community and get to know those who put their life on the line for you each day.

 

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.