On Day 24, lawmakers welcomed a new member and debated new rules that could affect your driving. 

The Senate got a new senator today, as Tim Bearden was sworn in to represent the 30th District.

The former Republican state house representative from Carrollton, Ga., won a special election last week to replace Mike Dugan who resigned earlier this year to run for Congress. 

Then the Senate took up three bills and a resolution, all dealing with military or veteran matters. 

First, Senate Bill 375 creates a new commissioner of veterans’ service in Georgia's Department of Behavioral Health Coordinating Council. The bill benefited from a special endorsement from Beecher Strickland, son of state Sen. Brian Strickland (R,McDonough): “Vote for it,” the younger Strickland said.

SB 385 will expand the Georgia Military College online degree program from two years to four years. And SB 398 revises the Georgia Joint Defense Commission’s original role of retaining military bases in the state to a more economic role working with the Department of Economic Development. 

A Senate study committee on veterans’ mental health and housing will be formed with Senate Resolution 527.  A recent federal study estimates that as many as 40,000 Georgia veterans live in poverty, and another 700 are homeless. 

All of the legislation was overwhelmingly passed.  

In the House, members unanimously approved a measure that would make it easier for divorcees to change back to their surname on their birth certificate.  


House Bill 896 will make it easier to go back to your maiden name after a divorce. The new law makes the process cheaper, faster, and more convenient to make the change. The bill passed unanimously.

Another bill, House Bill 154, would allow drivers who refuse to sign a ticket to appear in court instead of going to jail. The bill passed one fifty six to ten. 

HB 1001 would allow drivers to show an electronic driver’s license to police. That bill passed 168 to 1.

Reps. Sharon Cooper and Scott Hilton held a press conference to advocate for higher pay for workers with disabilities. Cooper said some employers pay as little as 22 cents per hour. Under current law, employers are not required to pay workers with a disability minimum wage. HB 125 would phase out sub-minimum wage.  

Also today, CareSource Georgia announced a $1 million donation to help Georgia’s foster care system, and children who age out of it.  

Tomorrow is Alzheimer’s Awareness Day at the state Capitol, and lawmakers will return for legislative Day 25.

Join host Donna Lowry and capitol reporter Sarah Kallis at 7 p.m. on GPB-TV for the 54th season of GPB's Lawmakers.