Local Sen. Renee Unterman had a busy week, as the Legislature nears the end of its session.
On Thursday, the Buford Republican successfully shepherded three House bills through the Senate, with a fourth passing the body Friday.
The bills tackled some of the issues closest to Unterman's heart, including health care and bringing an end to human trafficking.
In House Bill 141, establishments like hotels and airports will be required to post information on how victims can receive help from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.
"This bill will mandate a mandatory posting human trafficking hotline numbers where places of prostitution have been suspected," said Unterman, who has championed the issue. "When children call into a hotline number, they are more apt to receive the help they need and change their lifestyle. The passage of this legislation brings Georgia one step closer to creating a system of care for children involved in sexual trafficking."
The bill, which must be reconsidered by the House, requires notices to be posted in in English, Spanish and "other appropriate languages according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation."
Unterman also helped the passage this week of a bill written based on the hearings last year of the Lake Lanier legislative caucus.
House Bill 126, which now awaits the governor's signature, would make hindering a Georgia park ranger from fulfilling his or her duties a misdemeanor, while committing a violent act against a park ranger would be a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to five years.
"This bill originated from an incident that occurred on Lake Lanier last summer where a park ranger was attacked and beaten while on duty," Unterman said. "This legislation is supported by the new Lake Lanier Caucus."
She also carried through the Senate legislation to require pain management clinics be licensed by the Georgia Composite Medical Board.
"I believe this legislation will help provide an extra measure of protection to Georgia citizens by ensuring Georgia Pain Management Clinics are operating under the highest level of service and accreditation," said Unterman, the chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Committee and a former nurse.
On Friday, Unterman carried a bill through the Senate to enable Georgia students taking dual credit courses to receive the same treatment as those taking advanced placement and international baccalaureate courses when determining HOPE eligibility.
"In many communities throughout the state, especially rural areas, students are often at a disadvantage when it comes to taking AP or IB courses," Unterman said. "This legislation simply allows students enrolled in dual credit courses to receive the same treatment when determining eligibility for the HOPE scholarship."
Gwinnett Daily Post columnist Dick Yarbrough was named Friday to the Department of Juvenile Justice Board by Gov. Nathan Deal.
Yarbrough, a retired vice president of BellSouth Corp., was a managing director of Atlanta's 1996 Olympic Games. He is now a popular and widely read syndicated newspaper columnist.
"I know juvenile justice reform has long been a priority for Gov. Deal and the Georgia Legislature and I appreciate this opportunity to serve on the Board," said Yarbrough, who was appointed alongside Assistant Athens-Clarke Police Chief Fred Stephens. "I am looking forward to working with Commissioner Avery Niles and DJJ's 4,000 men and women across the state in their mission to help juvenile offenders become productive citizens. I can think of nothing more important to the future of our state than this effort to rehabilitate these young lives."
Yarbrough, who lives in Atlanta, was appointed to represent Congressional District 11. His column runs in the Daily Post on Saturdays.
"We admire the professionalism and dedication to public service these new Board Members will bring to this task," Commissioner Niles said. "Mr. Yarbrough and Chief Stephens will make excellent assets to the Board and we wish them all the best as they face the many challenges that will come with Georgia's juvenile justice reforms."
Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Camie Young can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.