The 2017 Legislative Session

by Wallace S. Phillips CRNA, MSNA

The Government Relations Committee (GRC) is pleased to report that SB 106 has passed the general assembly and is awaiting Governor Deal’s signature. This bill was introduced to correct the Pain Management Clinic Act that passed in 2013 to stop pain pill-mill clinics in Georgia. CRNAs were omitted in the language of the Act as providers that could be present on-site for a pain clinic to be open and/or provide pain management service.
The 2017 Regular session of the Georgia General Assembly has come to an end. On Friday morning March 31st at 12:54am, the Georgia General Assembly adjourned its 2017 legislative session. Again, this year was very busy for all Legislators and the GANA GRC.

The GANA GRC started the year off with CRNAs and SRNAs from all over Georgia convening in Atlanta at the Capitol on January 23rd for National CRNA week. For the first time, the GANA and the GRC decided to be at the Capitol for an entire week instead of holding one Capitol Day. The goal was to have a repeated presence at the Capitol and more exposure to the legislators. It also provided more opportunities for hard working CRNAs to participate.

To briefly recap the week, on Monday, January 23rd, our military CRNAs were recognized in the House Chambers by Representative Dave Belton (112th) who chairs the Military Affairs: Working Group. These Military CRNAs were well received by all legislators. On Tuesday, January 24th, CRNAs at the Capitol met with legislators and attended the Health and Human Services Committee meeting. On Wednesday, January 25th, the junior students from Augusta University (SRNA) and CRNAs were at the Capitol for the proclamation signed by Governor Deal recognizing CRNA Week. A photo with the Governor was also taken. Later Monty Veezy, our lobbyist, met with the students to discuss the lobbying process and the importance of advocacy. On Thursday, January 26th the senior students from Augusta University were at the Capitol for a photo with Governor Deal and to meet with their legislators. We later attended the Senate HHS committee meeting where the GANA presented a birthday cake to Committee Chair Renee Unterman (45th) for her birthday. GANA and CRNAs were recognized, and cake was served to all in attendance. On Friday, January 27th, the legislators took the day off and we did as well. It was a very successful week and I would like to thank all who participated.

This year the Government Relation Committee (GRC) had a CRNA at the Capitol on most days that the legislators were in session and at most HHS meetings. We, along with other APRN groups, were very visible at the Capitol for the 2017 legislative session. We believe that this was instrumental in getting SB 106 passed this year, along with other bills such as the Nursing Compact bill (SB 166) that passed this year. We were able to monitor many other pieces of legislation that could have affected APRNs and health care providers.

SB 106 was introduced by Senator Greg Kirk (District 13, Americus, GA) on behalf of CRNA’s that practice pain management in Georgia. This Bill was essentially the same as HB 212 which was introduced in 2014 by Tom Weldon that failed to pass. HB 212 passed both the House and Senate, but with an amendment added in the House on the last day, it did not make it back to the Senate before the end of the 2016 session and it died. Therefore, a new bill was introduced in the 2017.

With the passage of SB 106, there are many people the GRC would like to recognize and thank for their hard work and commitment to getting this bill passed:

  • Senator Greg Kirk for sponsoring SB 106
  • All the CRNAs who contacted or visited their legislators to request support for this bill.
  • Christy Dunkelberger, GANA Legal Counsel/Executive Director, and Monty Veazey, GANA Lobbyist, who worked diligently to keep this Bill moving and to prevent unwanted and harmful language.
  • All GRC members who worked so hard at the Capital this year.
  • Kay Argroves, CRNA (GRC Co-Chair) for the hard work and many hours you spent at the Capitol this year.
  • Taushera Westbrook for working the Capitol during Capitol week.
  • Steve Smith, CRNA and Wallace Phillips, CRNA (GRC Co- Chair) who testified along with Christy Dunkelberger before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee to move this bill to the floor for a vote.
  • Kathy Mann, CRNA, who met with Speaker David Ralston (7th) and House HHS Chair Sharon Cooper (43rd) to move this bill from her committee to the floor for a vote.
  • All CRNAs and SRNAs who wrote letters and/or visited their legislators.

Thank you for your hard work and support of CRNAs throughout Georgia.