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As we finished week four under the Gold Dome, the committee work of the legislature is operating at full steam. A few bills finally made it to the Senate Floor as well.

Senate Bill 330: “Giving the Gift of Life Act”: SB 330 made its way to the Senate floor. This bill has the ability to substantially impact citizens across the state in a very beneficial way. As of right now, if an individual wishes to donate an organ, such as a kidney or liver, they are put at risk of losing insurance coverage as well as income if they have to miss work due to recovery. SB 330 protects these donors from losing or being denied life insurance coverage. It also provides a tax credit for businesses to cover cost of losing an employee due to organ donation. This bill will hopefully lead to more individuals taking the step to serve as an organ donor without the fear of losing their insurance policy along with feeling more employer support when making the decision to donate an organ to someone in need.

Senate Bill 332: “Inform Consumers Act”: During the height of the pandemic, we witnessed a massive influx of online retail shopping. We also experienced an increase in sales of stolen or fraudulent products. While it is important for our state to maintain its leadership in e-commerce, it is imperative that we ensure that online sellers and third party retailers can verify the validity of their products before they reach the hands of the consumer. SB 332 cracks down on organized retail crime by providing numerous protections for consumers who are at risk of unknowingly purchasing stolen or counterfeit products from various online marketplaces. More specifically, this bill requires online marketplaces to verify the validity of these third-party sellers and provide either an email, phone number or an outlet of direct electronic communication to consumers to contact the sellers if they have any questions or concerns about potential goods.

Two of the bills I’m sponsoring to end telemarketing and provide additional consumer protections also received favorable passage from their assigned committees. One bill I’m sponsoring to help military families cross school system lines when a family member is called to active duty ran into some logistical issues in committee and we’ll work on it more in the coming weeks.  We also have local legislation moving for Long, Liberty, Wayne, Jeff Davis, Telfair, Wheeler, Montgomery & Tattnall Counties.

The biggest news of the week was on rural broadband:

Rural Broadband: This week, Governor Brian Kemp announced $408 million in grants, made available through the American Rescue Plan Act, to expand broadband throughout Georgia with particular focus on our state’s rural communities. As you know, connecting all areas of our community to broadband has been my mission for years, and I am extremely excited about the connections these grants will bring. The biggest local award went to Altamaha EMC. Through a combined plan submitted by Altamaha and the Toombs and Montgomery County Commission, almost every home in unincorporated Toombs and Montgomery County will receive at least 1 gig symmetrical service when buildout is complete in 2026.  The inserted map shows the connectivity citizens should experience once build-out of the grants is complete.  Green and red areas are show the most recent grant winners (RDOF and ARPA grants) and their buildout should be complete by 2026. You can see from the map, though, we still have work to do!

Broadband Map

We did have one group visiting this week, the Government Class from Vidalia High School (my alma mater) along with Ms. Missy Owens, Mr. Ben Beck and Ms. Kim Robinson. Ms. Robinson taught me Geography in 2000 and will be retiring this year. Her impact on students in our area will be felt for generations to come.

As I have said before, it is always a pleasure to see hometown faces here at the Capitol. Next week, the Senate will convene for 5 legislative days. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact my office if you have any questions or concerns. I am always happy to help.

Sen. Blake Tillery serves as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He represents the 19th Senate District, which includes Appling, Jeff Davis, Long, Montgomery, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne, and Wheeler counties and a portion of Liberty and Tattnall counties. The 19th District is expected to add Bacon and parts of Coffee County in 2023. He can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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