Sen. Renee Unterman Attends Safe Harbor Yes Press Conference

Safe Harbor Yes PhotoATLANTA (August 25, 2016) | Sen. Renee Unterman (R– Buford) attended the Safe Harbor Yes press conference yesterday at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. The campaign for the Safe Harbor Amendment was announced and coalition representatives encouraged citizens to vote yes. Passing the amendment will ensure the creation of the Safe Harbor for Exploited Children Fund.

“It is an honor to be a part of such an important coalition,” said Sen. Unterman. “This constitutional amendment is the funding mechanism to take care of victims of sex trafficking. We ask the citizens of Georgia to spring into action and vote in favor of this amendment. Every child in Georgia is worth it and we must push forward to ensure funding and resources are available to take care of victims.”

The Safe Harbor Amendment will be on the General Election ballot on November 8, 2016. It will be the second amendment listed on the ballot. If passed, the Safe Harbor for Exploited Children Fund will be created. This fund will serve as a dedicated source of new funding that will provide restorative services and safe housing to child victims of sex trafficking. Extra fines for criminal offenses related to sex trafficking and a yearly fee for adult entertainment establishments that serve alcohol will contribute to the fund. The funding source is constitutionally dedicated and funds cannot be used by the state for any other purpose.

Sen. Renee Unterman Appointed as Chair of Three Senate Study Committees

ATLANTA (July 6, 2016)  |  Sen. Renee Unterman (R– Buford) was selected by Lt .Gov. Casey Cagle to serve as Co-Chair of the Georgia Pallative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council and as Chair of the Surprise Billing Practices and the Opioid Abuse Senate Study Committees.

“Access to palliative care is critical to every community in the state and finding solutions to improve availability is critical,” said Sen. Unterman. “Along with access to care, we must address the widespread abuse of opioids. This issue affects people from all walks of life, social classes and areas in the state. We must do all we can to educate, rehabilitate and save lives.”

“Also, I look forward to addressing the issues with surprise billing for patients for out of pocket procedures. Medical bankruptcy has become a new social phenomenon due to the current state of the healthcare crisis which our country is now experiencing. Patients cannot afford to pay bills that are out of network. Solutions must be examined and proposed to save consumers who are hit with high bills and expectations to pay them.”

“Sen. Renee Unterman has a proven track record in addressing the needs of our citizens and will be an invaluable resource as Co-Chair of the Georgia Pallative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council and as Chair of the Surprise Billing Practices and the Opioid Abuse Senate Study Committees,” said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. “I’m confident she will examine the issues at hand and provide new legislative recommendations to the General Assembly as we prepare for the 2017 Legislative Session.”

The Georgia Pallative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council was created by the passage of House Bill 509 during the 2016 legislative session. As stated in the legislation, the committee shall be comprised of three members of the Senate, three members of the House and three members appointed by the Governor. The council is charged with finding solutions that will improve quality and delivery of patient centered and family focused palliative care throughout Georgia. Palliative care is intended to alleviate suffering and to achieve relief from certain conditions. The council is responsible for submitting a report of findings and recommendations, including proposed legislation, by June 30, 2017.

Senate Resolution 1165 created the Senate Opioid Abuse Study Committee during the 2016 legislative session. The President of the Senate will appoint seven members to serve on this study committee. Opioid abuse is on the rise nationally and within the state. This committee will conduct the important task of investigating what needs to be done to prevent future abuse and overdoses. The study committee is responsible for submitting a report of findings and recommendation, including proposed legislation, by December 1, 2016.

The Senate Surprise Billing Practices Study Committee was created by the passage of Senate Resolution 974 during the 2016 legislative session. As stated in the resolution, the committee shall be comprised of four members of the Senate. This study committee will review how surprise billing laws are working in other states and how these laws may be beneficial to Georgia citizens. The study committee is responsible for submitting a report of findings and recommendations, including proposed legislation, by December 1, 2016.

Sen. Renee Unterman Receives Voice of Gratitude Award

ATLANTA (March 8, 2016)  |  Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) was honored with the Voice of Gratitude award on March 5, 2016, for her work to end child sexual abuse. Her work was recognized by Voice Today at the organization’s annual Legacy Ball, which was held this year at the Georgia Aquarium. Sen. Unterman was one of five individuals honored with the award.

“Child exploitation and sexual abuse is a devastating problem that must continue to be diligently and urgently addressed. Although I am very proud of what has been accomplished in recent years, there is still much work to be done. We need to stand up for those who are scared and without a voice,” said Sen. Unterman.

Sen. Unterman was specifically recognized for her work on the House Bill 17, also known as the “Hidden Predator Act,” which passed the Georgia General Assembly in 2015. The legislation extended the statute of limitations for civil action against a childhood sexual predator until the day following the victim’s 23rd birthday, or after two years following the victim’s discovery of abuse. Previously, the statute of limitations ended on the victim’s 18th birthday. The legislation also states that an organization may be liable for abuse committed by an employee or volunteer and allows victims to access evidence that may be used in civil proceedings, if the criminal case has been closed. Sen. Unterman was the Senate sponsor of HB 17, which was authored by Rep. Jason Spencer (R – Woodbine).

Other individuals honored with the Voice of Gratitude Award include Rep. Spencer, Rep. Greg Morris (R – Vidalia), Sen. Tommie Williams (R – Lyons) and Marci Hamilton.

Voice Today is a Georgia-based organization that advocates for the prevention of childhood sexual abuse and the protection of victims’ rights both in Georgia and nationally. For more information,


Nonprofit Supports Meals for Seniors

(Lawrenceville, Ga., Jan. 8, 2016) – Gwinnett’s home-delivered meals program received a big boost Tuesday when commissioners accepted a donation of $70,000 raised by a non-profit support group founded by state Sen. Renee Unterman in 1999.

The volunteer-led organization, known as Friends of Gwinnett County Senior Services, holds charity events and pursues grants to help meet the needs of Gwinnett’s age 60-plus senior population, which is now the second largest in Georgia. The group’s key priorities are food insecurity and access to transportation.

In 2016, Friends committed to provide up to $60,000 for the senior meals program to help reduce its wait list, up to $4,500 to cover the distribution cost of emergency meals to displaced or distressed seniors, and up to $5,500 to buy shelf-stable meals for use when weather disrupts normal home-delivered meal services.

Chairman Charlotte Nash noted, “Over the past five years, Friends has paid Gwinnett County nearly $500,000 to directly address senior needs. We are very grateful for their support.”

The group has also raised money for medical transportation, home repairs, emergency assistance, in-home foot care and holiday gift bags.


Foundation for Government Accountability Honors Sen. Renee Unterman with 2015 Champion of Children Award

Champion of ChildrenATLANTA (November 20, 2015)  |  Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) was honored Thursday with the 2015 Champion of Children Award from the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA). The Foundation highlighted Sen. Unterman’s work on Senate Bill 3, also known as the Supporting and Strengthening Families Act. 

“I am honored to receive the Champion of Children Award from the Foundation for Government Accountability,” said Sen. Unterman. “Being a voice for Georgia’s children is a top priority of mine, and I look forward to persistently working with my colleagues in the 2016 legislative session to generate legislation that will continue to improve the lives of children and families all over Georgia.”

“It was clear to us from the beginning that no one worked harder than Sen. Unterman on providing a safety net for the children of Georgia,” said a representative from FGA. “Her work on Senate Bill 3, The Supporting and Strengthening Families Act, will have an impact on the wellbeing of Georgia’s children for decades to come.”

Senate Bill 3 provides an alternative for parents who must temporarily waive parental rights due to circumstances such as military service or substance abuse treatment. The bill also clearly defines the form necessary for executing a written power of attorney for the care of a child.

Sen. Renee Unterman Appointed to Interim Senate Study Committee on Sexual Assault

IMG_1456ATLANTA (October 1, 2015)  |  Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) was appointed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to the new Interim Senate Study Committee on Sexual Assault.

“It is upsetting that every year numerous sexual assault cases on Georgia’s college campuses are under-reported or unresolved, and are often not taken seriously,” said Sen. Unterman. “Students who have suffered from these attacks deserve to receive not only justice, but referrals and other services. As Chairman of this committee, my first goal is to listen to professionals who work in the field of sexual assault victims and begin improving the process of reporting and resolving sexual assault allegations. We will also be examining due process in relation to alleged perpetrators.”

The Association of American Universities (AAU) reported in a study this month that the percentage of reported campus sexual assaults has increased since their last study was completed. Although the percentage of assaults has increased, the percentage of cases that are actually reported to the authorities stands below 30 percent. More than 50 percent of victims said in the study that they did not report incidents because they do not think others will take them seriously or that they could not handle the emotional impact of telling someone else.

The Senate Study Committee on Sexual Assault is charged with examining the current legal process for sexual assault cases on college campuses and discussing possible changes and improvements to the ways in which these are recorded and handled. Meetings for the committee are scheduled to begin in November.

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For Immediate Release:
October 1, 2015

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director
Gavriella Coffman, Communications Associate

Sen. Renee Unterman Participates in Hunger Awareness Events at National NCSL Conference

NCSL Hunger Packing BagsATLANTA (September 21, 2015)  |  Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) participated in the 2015 National Conference of State Leaders (NCSL) Legislative Summit on August 3 – 6 in Seattle, WA. During the 2015 Summit, she took part in several events hosted by the NCSL Hunger Partnership, which launched in 2010 to raise the visibility of hunger in America and highlight innovative solutions. This year celebrates the Partnership’s fifth anniversary, as well as Sen. Unterman’s fifth year serving as co-chair of the Partnership. The annual NCSL Legislative Summit is the nation’s largest educational gathering for legislators and legislative staff, and provides a platform for policy discussion and professional development.


“Hunger is a serious problem faced by nearly one in seven U.S. households. I am proud to lead a group so deeply committed to ending this crisis through innovative programs, open policy discussion and partnerships among state agencies. The working relationships created by this group over the past five years are truly remarkable. From SNAP call centers to improving school breakfast participation, states are banding together to end hunger across the nation,” said Sen. Unterman.

During the Summit, the NCSL Hunger Partnership met to review business matters and examples of innovative public-private partnerships that are addressing hunger issues at the state level. Legislators serving as members of the Hunger Partnership offer direction to state agencies who are looking to implement new programs, coordinate among agencies, or give funding to promising new initiatives. The NCSL Hunger Partnership reviewed the efforts of innovative programs and partnerships aimed at ending hunger in the United States, including supplemental nutrition assistance program partnerships, child nutrition partnerships, food distribution partnerships, healthy food access partnerships, as well as deterring fraud, waste and abuse in hunger programs.

Strategic alliances created by the Partnership and its affiliated support organizations across the nation include a SNAP assistance call center in Connecticut, a lunch and after-school meals program in Arkansas, a surplus food donation service in California, a food bank community wellness program in Louisiana, and a healthy cafeteria choices program in North Dakota. Farm-to-table and farm-to-school lunchrooms have also been studied and replicated throughout the country.

Since 2007, the number of United States families experiencing hunger has grown to more than five million. Although food insecurity rates are at an all-time high, academics, advocates and legislators all agree that hunger is a resolvable problem.

For more information about the NCSL Hunger Partnership, visit

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For Immediate Release:
September 21, 2015

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director

Sen. Renee Unterman Appointed to Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis

ATLANTA (September 21, 2015)  |  Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to the new Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis.


“Panels such as the Georgia Commission on Medical Cannabis are central to providing young Georgian’s with the opportunity for relief without the burden of traveling outside the state,” said Sen. Unterman. “I am honored to be a part of this group, and though it will be a slow process, I look forward to working with the other members of the commission to discuss the best legal options for Georgia’s children and families who are suffering.”

The commission held its first three summer meetings on Tuesday, June 16; Friday, July 31; and Wednesday August 26. The meetings included testimony from manufacturers of cannabis oil from other states, and models of how the product is legally created and distributed. Members of the commission must report back to Gov. Deal at the end of 2015 with their completed findings.

The commission’s next meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 30, 2015  from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. in room 606 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building.

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For Immediate Release:
September 21, 2015

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director
Gavriella Coffman, Communications Associate

Sen. Renee Unterman Commends Congressional Action on Protecting Human Trafficking Victims

ATLANTA (May 20, 2015)  |  The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (S. 178) on Tuesday, May 19. The federal legislation, which is meant to increase enforcement and provide support services to human trafficking victims, parallels state legislation passed in Georgia during the 2015 legislative session. The U.S. Senate has already passed the legislation, which is now awaiting Presidential approval. State Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) congratulates the successful Congressional effort to protect human trafficking victims across the nation.

“I greatly appreciate the U.S. House and U.S. Senate’s work to safeguard and support human trafficking victims on a national level. I am especially grateful for Sen. Johnny Isakson’s help and advocacy for the final passage of S. 178. This legislation brings together many common state and national goals that are aimed at stopping the sordid practice of human trafficking,” said Sen. Unterman.

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 will amend federal criminal code to impose increased and additional fines on those found guilty of trafficking offenses. This revenue will be deposited into the Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund, established through S. 178. In addition, the federal legislation amends both the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005.

The amendments set forth include permitting U.S. citizens and permanent residents to receive benefits and services without obtaining official victim status certification from the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as replacing the pilot program for juvenile residential treatment facilities with a program for three-year renewable block grants. The grants will be administered by the Department of Justice and will focus on developing and improving domestic child human trafficking deterrence programs for law enforcement officials.

More information about The Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act can be found online at

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For Immediate Release:
May 20, 2015

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director

Personal Welcome…

Renee PhilI would like to personally thank you for taking the opportunity to visit my official website. This website provides general information as well as anything and everything pertaining to my legislative career. I am blessed to represent, what I feel, is the best region in Georgia and I am proud to call Gwinnett County my home.  My main focus while serving in office is to protect the citizens of Senate District 45, ensuring that legislation moving forward is beneficial for our district and all of Georgia. God Bless!      – Renee