By: Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia)

This week we saw two bills pass on the Senate floor. Senate Bills 70 and 85 will now go to the Georgia House of Representatives for consideration.

Now, I know you’re probably wondering what these bills mean for the people of District 19? These bills both have a direct impact on small business and rural hospitals.

SB 70 provides a three-year extension to the sunset date on hospital provider fees. As we all know, our rural hospitals do not see as many patients with insurance as hospitals in the big city and they can use some help in paying for indigent patient care. If this bill passes the House as well, the state will take the approximately $300 million collected by hospital provider fees and leverage it for a 2 to 1 match of federal dollars creating a pool of roughly $900 million which is all returned to hospitals for indigent healthcare cost. This bill was supported by all the hospitals in District 19 and was truly a no-brainer once you consider the $300 million collected from the hospitals originally is returned to them as well.

SB 85 essentially allows craft breweries to sale the product they are making on-site.  Right now, local breweries are required to contract with large distributors in order to get their product to consumers.  I don’t know of any breweries in our district, but the idea that they should be prohibited from directly selling what they are already making on their own property seemed a little unfair.

The next few weeks will see us become much busier.  Please let me know if you see bills that you feel will affect our region. I look forward to all the legislation that will come before us and will continue to update you on what is happening under the Gold Dome! Thanks for the opportunity to serve you.