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When children can’t remain in their own homes with their parents, placement with other family members – over foster parents that the child has never met – is considered the next best thing by child welfare officials.  But when children have been in a loving, stable foster home for a long time, removing children to place them with relatives they may barely know can be traumatic and damaging.  That dichotomy is what led State Sen. Matt Brass, R-Newnan, to introduce Senate Bill 167. The bill passed the Georgia House and Senate unanimously and took effect after Gov. Brian Kemp signed it in May.  Georgia Division of Family and Children’s Services Director Tom Rawlings said the bill addresses an issue he has dealt with for years, in his time as a juvenile court judge, state child advocate and, as of last summer, DFCS director. “One of the complaints I often hear is that you will have a child who has really...READ MORE
As reported in the Newnan Times-Herald Coweta County’s legislators talked about the change in the Certificate of Need law, and about issues related to land near the ocean and programs that impact veterans at the annual Pancakes and Politics breakfast. The breakfast was held Wednesday morning at Newnan Country Club. Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, moderated the event, which was sponsored by the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce. State Sen. Matt Brass talked about the complicated process that led to changes in the Certificate of Need law, a change which allows more Georgia patients to get care at Cancer Treatment Centers of America. “When you get under the Gold Dome, it’s one of the most divisive issues we have,” Brass said of the CON.  “We ended up sitting down and working on something both sides could agree on. That bill did not come out of Senate.”Facets of that bill are included in a bill the...READ MORE
The new law allows cannabis to be grown at four facilities in the state, and oils to be sold at 28 dispensaries. On Wednesday, Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed a bill into law that will allow medical marijuana patients to legally purchase some cannabis products in the state.  The state has allowed patients to use cannabis oil since 2015, but they have not been legally able to purchase oils in Georgia, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It is also illegal to grow cannabis or bring it in from another state.  Dr. Larry Tune, a geriatric neuropsychiatrist at Emory University Hospital, said that he would write prescriptions for medical marijuana, knowing how difficult it would be for patients to obtain.  “We can do that paperwork but it’s pointless,” he said.  The new law allows cannabis to be grown at four facilities in the state, and oils to be sold at 28 dispensaries, the AJC reported. Gov. Brian Kemp signed the measure on Wednesday, a little under a week after it...READ MORE
As reported by WMAZ Macon: ATLANTA — At 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Governor Brian Kemp is set to sign HB 324, or Georgia’s Hope Act.  The bill allows for the production, manufacturing, and dispensing of low-THC oil, as well as the possession of certain quantities of low THC oil. While the Low THC Oil Patent Registry from 2015 allows patients to possess the oil, the bill says it does not provide access to the oil. The bill also creates the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission to issue university and production licenses.  RELATED: Medicinal marijuana scams could rise in Georgia, Better Business Bureau warns RELATED: Smoking pot vs. tobacco: What science says about lighting up It was sponsored by District 28 Senator Matt Brass and in the House of Representatives by District 67 Rep. Micah Gravely, District 123 Rep. Mark Newton, District 32 Rep. Alan Powell,  District 135 Rep. Calvin Smyre, District 98 Rep. David Clark, and District 21 Rep. Scot Turner. The...READ MORE
A group of Newnan High School students visited the state capitol last week to attend and speak at a commemoration ceremony for Vietnam Veterans – and ended up with a selfie with the governor. The students, who are in Steve Quisenberry’s Vietnam War class at NHS, were at the capitol for National Vietnam Veterans Day in Georgia. They were the only young people to speak at the ceremony, held in the capitol rotunda, said Quisenberry. The annual event at the capitol is part of the 13-year commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Three of the students spoke at the ceremony. “They did a great job,” Quisenberry said. The students from his class were recognized several times during the ceremony, he said. After the ceremony, various groups were having their pictures taken with Gov. Brian Kemp and others on the steps inside the capitol. Once that was over, Kemp came over to talk with the Newnan group, along...READ MORE
As reported by the AJC: A bill to open up nonprofit hospitals to much greater competition from the private sector passed a Georgia legislative committee on Monday. The House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care easily approved House Bill 198. It is the broadest of several bills under discussion in the Legislature this year to ease the regualation called Certificate of Need, or CON. CON tamps down competition, requiring anyone who wants to open or expand hospital-like services to prove that there’s really a need for the new facility. Hospitals see CON as protecting them from private health care businesses that want to cherry-pick their profitable services, and leave them with the money-losers. Health care entrepreneurs see CON as preventing competition and limiting consumer choice. Within the Atlanta region, HB 198 would eliminate CON except with some long-term care facilities. Outside the Atlanta region, the bill also eliminate CON, unless the proposed competitor was within 10 miles of an existing hospital....READ MORE
As reported by the AJC: A long-expected bill to lift restrictions on private competition for hospitals’ best customers has been filed in the state House. The measure, House Bill 198, was filed by state Rep. Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin, chairman of the House majority caucus. Following the lead of a House study committee, HB 198 takes a broad swipe at the restrictions known as certificate of need, or CON. Certificate of need is a regulation that is aimed at protecting the bottom lines of public hospitals. Such hospitals say private health businesses want to cherry-pick their profitable services, such as bone surgery or cancer treatment, and leave them with the money losers, including caring for those who can’t pay. CON regulations say that if someone wants to open a new medical facility, the state must first certify that there’s actually a need for it that isn’t already being served by other hospitals. Entrepreneurs say they’re blocked from innovation by CON, and that patients are...READ MORE
As reported in the Newnan Times-Herald Sen. Matt Brass (R – Newnan) was recently appointed to serve as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries and Utilities and to serve on several influential committees for the 2019 Legislative Session by the Senate Committee on Assignments. “I am honored to be asked to serve as Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries and Utilities,” said Sen. Brass. “This committee is vital in overseeing some of our state’s most important resources such as telecommunications, gas and electricity. I look forward to working with members of all of the committees I serve on to ensure each piece of legislation receives the proper amount of time and attention.” In addition to serving as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries and Utilities, Sen. Brass will serve as Chairman of the Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee, as Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development and Tourism and as Secretary...READ MORE
As reported in the AJC: Medical marijuana: Legislation will be introduced to allow medical marijuana cultivation, manufacturing and distribution to registered medical marijuana patients. Georgia’s medical marijuana law has been in place since 2015, but it remains illegal for patients to buy or transport the drug. A state-run system to grow and sell medical marijuana would give patients a legal way to obtain a medicine they say helps treat severe seizures and deadly cancer. Key players: Sen. Matt Brass, R-Newnan; Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville; and Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell. Prospects: Decent. A growing number of lawmakers in the Republican-led General Assembly support state controls for distribution of medical marijuana.
As reported on All on Georgia: After meeting a number of times around the state, a group of Georgia lawmakers have recommended steps to help Georgia students with dyslexia. The Senate Study Committee on Dyslexia released its final report ahead of the legislative session that is set to begin next week. On the committee were Senators Fran Millar, Gloria Butler, and Matt Brass as well as Dr. Leslie Stuart and Mr. Garry McGiboney. Students with dyslexia, teachers that work wtih dyslexic students, and other experts in the education field testified over the course of several months to offer related testimony to lawmakers. Ultimately, the committee made three recommendations. Develop a college curriculum for future teachers so they have more tools to help identify children with dyslexia and language disorders. Screening of kindergarten students in public schools in an effort to catch signs of dyslexia at an early age. Screening would continue through the second grade since Georgia schools don’t require attendance...READ MORE