Georgia Hospital Community Honored by the Senate

ATLANTA (March 14, 2017) | Sen. Dean Burke (R – Bainbridge) and Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) honored Georgia’s hospital community for their response to Hurricane Matthew in the Senate today.

“It was an honor to recognize our hospital community for all of their efforts during Hurricane Matthew,” said Sen. Burke. “They demonstrated a true commitment to the safety and well-being of all Georgians during a critical time of need. Their emergency preparedness planning and execution is truly commendable. By coming together, our hospitals were able to help those who were hurt, and prevent loss of life during a state of emergency.”

“Our hospitals, those who serve inland communities and those who serve the coast, were able to step up to the plate,” said Sen. Unterman. “They worked together in an efficient and effective manner to transport patients and assist with the evacuation process. We are extremely proud of all of their hard work and collaboration before, during and after the hurricane.”

During Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, hospitals from around the state came together to prepare for the storm and to assist with collaboration efforts for patients. The Regional Coordinating Hospitals network, which was created in 2003, is made up of hospitals divided by 14 regions in Georgia. Hospitals in this network serve as facilitators during emergency preparedness planning and training around the state. During the storm, they worked together to safely evacuate patients from coastal regions and properly process their intake to inland hospitals. They worked with government and local officials, Georgia’s EMS agencies and the Georgia Department of Public Health.

For additional information please review Senate Resolution 389 below:

http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20172018/SR/389


Sen. Unterman Champions Passage of Senate Bill 81

ATLANTA (March 1, 2017) | Sen. Renee Unterman (R– Buford) sponsored Senate Bill 81 which unanimously passed the Georgia Senate on Wednesday.

“Opioid abuse and heroin overdoses are an epidemic that must be addressed in this state and around the nation,” said Sen. Unterman. “It is our responsibility to do everything in our power to curb the growth of this epidemic. I am grateful to my colleagues and everyone who has worked tirelessly on this legislation. Although SB 81 isn’t a one stop cure for this epidemic, I believe that it is a step in the right direction to save lives and address an issue that affects so many of our citizens.”

Section one of SB 81, also known as the Jeffrey Dallas Gay, Jr. Act, would allow pharmacists to dispense Naloxone to individuals in accordance with a statewide standing order. This section also reschedules Naloxone from the list of dangerous drugs to a Schedule V Controlled Substance.

Section two of SB 81, also known as the Substance Abuse Treatment and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, addresses electronic reporting for those who prescribe or dispense controlled substances. Prescribers and dispensers would be required to use the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) every 24 hours instead of the weekly reporting that is currently required. PDMP is administered by the Georgia Drug and Narcotics Agency.

SB 81 was amended on the Senate floor and the penalties section dealing with misdemeanor and felony offenses for providers were removed. As amended, SB 81 states that providers who fail to complete registrations or fail to comply will now be referred to the Georgia Composite Medical Board.

SB 81 will now go to the Georgia House of Representatives for consideration.


Sens. Unterman and Butler Welcome Sex Trafficking Awareness Advocates to the Senate

Unterman Sex traffic victims 17ATLANTA (March 1, 2017)  |  Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) and Sen. Gloria Butler (D – Stone Mountain) welcomed representatives from Georgia Cares, Street Grace, the United Way of Greater Atlanta, Out of Darkness, Wellspring Living, and City of Refuge to the Senate yesterday for Sex Trafficking Awareness Day at the Capitol.

“It’s great having these groups here today to raise awareness about sex trafficking in the state of Georgia,” said Sen. Unterman. “This is a journey that started in 2008, and the effect these organizations and the General Assembly have had on raising awareness is evident by the more than 700 people who showed up to support sex trafficking victims at the depot this morning. This solidifies our state’s stance of ‘yes, we know we have a problem, but yes, we’re doing something about it’.”

“I am so happy to be able to recognize and host these great organizations that do so much to advocate on behalf of sex trafficking victims,” said Sen. Butler. “Sex trafficking is a crime that effects all races, genders, socio economic classes and ages. Since 2009, over 1,800 referrals for sex trafficking have been made in 104 counties in Georgia. This isn’t something that just affects the metro Atlanta area, rather this is a severe problem that will require statewide initiatives and help to end.”

Sex trafficking and the underground sex industry increased by 22 percent in Atlanta from 2003 to 2007. Sex Trafficking Awareness Day at the Capitol brings together thousands of advocates in an effort to increase awareness and subsequently help stop sex trafficking in Georgia and around the world.


Sen. Unterman Hosts Health Information Technology Day

Renee Jan 26th-17ATLANTA (January 26, 2017) | Sen. Renee Unterman (R– Buford), with support from Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, presented Senate Resolution 40 recognizing January 26, 2017 as Health Information Technology Day in the Senate today.

“It was a pleasure to have representatives from the health information industry at the Capitol today,” said Sen. Unterman. “I enjoyed learning more about this emerging industry, which provides a framework on how to properly manage health information. I look forward to working with them to spread awareness about the services they provide. In today’s changing health industry, it is critical we use resources such as data analytics and health information databases to ensure information is stored and analyzed properly.”

“Innovative technologies must be at the forefront of our plans as we reinvent our healthcare system,” said Lt. Governor Cagle. “I want to thank Sen. Unterman for her leadership on this as we continue to work towards patient focused, cost efficient healthcare models for every Georgian.”

The health information industry in Georgia leads the nation with over 26,000 employees spread across the 225 companies located here. Georgia’s health information technology employment growth is among the 22 highest in the nation, with a growth rate of almost 20 percent in the past five years alone.

The industry’s mission is to improve patient services and to reduce health care costs. Members of the industry work and collaborate with the Technology Association of Georgia Health, the Georgia Chapter of the Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society (GA-HIMSS) and the Institute for Healthcare Information Technology (IHIT) to raise awareness of this emerging work force and to provide statewide leadership for the advancement and management of health care information and technology.


Sen. Unterman Hosts Press Conference to Announce Dental Hygienist Legislation

Renee Press Conference-Dec. 2016ATLANTA (December 20, 2016) | Sen. Renee Unterman (R– Buford), along with Sen. Valencia Seay (D – Riverdale) and Rep. Sharon Cooper (R – Marietta), hosted a press conference to discuss the filing of dental hygienist legislation.

“It is an honor to have everyone here today to announce bi-partisan legislation that will take care of the most vulnerable citizens in our state,” said Sen. Unterman. “This is simple, commonsense legislation that will give a basic necessity like oral care to those who do not have access to it. We must think about those that have been left behind and ensure they are not forgotten.”

“As Georgians, we must do better to help those who are under-served and also those who are un-served,” said Sen. Seay. “We must start the conversation and ensure that Georgia moves forward along with the 47 other states who allow dental hygienist to provide care to those who otherwise would not receive it.”

The dental hygienist legislation was filed today. It addresses licensing of dental hygienist and what they must do to qualify to provide cleaning and fluoride treatment in safety net locations and certain settings. This legislation further defines safety net locations and settings to include dental offices when the dentist is gone, nursing homes, hospice centers and others specifically listed. With this legislation, a dentist is limited to assigning four dental hygienists to perform these duties under their supervision. It is also noted that before a patient can start regularly seeing a dental hygienist for care, they must see a dentist at least once a year before that.


Sen. Unterman Sworn in as a Member of the Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council

Unterman HonoredATLANTA (November 10, 2016) | Sen. Renee Unterman (R– Buford) was sworn in as a member of the Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council this morning.

“It is an honor serve on this council and to join such an esteemed group of individuals,” said Sen. Unterman. “I look forward to working with them to find solutions and best practices which will increase access to palliative care in our state. We must do all we can to alleviate suffering and pain for our citizens. Providing quality palliative care will ensure that all of our citizens can live the best quality of life they can.”

The Georgia Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council was created by the passage of House Bill 509 during the 2016 legislative session. The goal of the nine member council is to review and study ways to improve quality and delivery of patient centered and family focused palliative care in Georgia. They will work with the Department of Community Health (DCH) and advise them on what improvements can be made to the establishment, maintenance and operation of palliative care initiatives around the state. The council will also oversee the implantation of a state-wide Palliative Care Consumer and Professional Information and Education Program by DCH. The council must report its findings and recommendations to the Governor and Georgia General Assembly no later than June 30, 2017.


Sen. Renee Unterman Attends Safe Harbor Yes Press Conference

ATLANTA (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, visitwww.voicetoday.org.

 


Sen. Renee Unterman Recognizes Type 1 Diabetes Day at the Georgia State Capitol

ATLANTA (February 23, 2016)  |  The Georgia General Assembly recognized individuals living with type 1 diabetes as part of the first Type 1 Diabetes Day at the State Capitol. Young adults diagnosed with the disease served as legislative pages during the day in an effort to raise awareness, and legislators received literature highlighting the challenges of living with the disease. Both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly passed resolutions to recognize Type 1 Diabetes Day at the Georgia State Capitol and honor advocate efforts.

“There are many characteristics that make type 1 and type 2 diabetes very distinct. In some cases, the required treatments are exclusive to one particular disease. The goal is to provide legislative colleagues with the education and background needed to tailor policy proposals specifically for each variation of the disease,” said Sen. Renee Unterman, chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to be here at the State Capitol and to educate the members of the General Assembly on the issues we face on a day to day basis as Georgians with type 1 diabetes. Even though this chronic disease challenges us, it does not stop us from achieving our hopes and dreams,” said Della “Trip” Stoner, an organizer of the day’s activities. Stoner also recognized the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) for providing support for the day’s events, including the legislative pages.

Senate members were invited to participate in a House Health and Human Services Committee meeting in the afternoon. Dr. Jonathan Ownby and Dr. Bruce Bode of Atlanta Diabetes Associates, a metro Atlanta medical practice, were also in attendance. Atlanta Diabetes Associates is currently conducting research and clinical trials of advanced treatments for type 1 diabetes, including the artificial pancreas.

The Mayo Clinic’s definition of type 1 diabetes is as follows:

Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. The far more common type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t make enough insulin. Despite active research, type 1 diabetes has no cure. But it can be managed. With proper treatment, people with type 1 diabetes can expect to live longer, healthier lives than did people with type 1 diabetes in the past.

Pages who served in the Senate on Type 1 Diabetes Day included Levi Barber, Hayden Kirk, Mary Morgan, Amanda Moore, Alexandra Muench, Melissa Muench, Jameson Murray, Grace Neal, and Jake Soles.


 

Sen. Renee Unterman Introduces Fantasy Sports Regulation Legislation

ATLANTA (February 16, 2016) | Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) has introduced legislation to regulate Georgia’s rapidly growing fantasy sports industry. Senate Bill 352 was drafted in an effort to protect consumers and the integrity of all fantasy sports contests, as well as codify important industry standards. It is estimated that 1.5 million Georgians and approximately over 50 million people nationally participate in fantasy sports contests.

“We need to reduce the chances of Georgians being exposed to fraud or dishonest tactics through participation in fantasy sports. Consumer protection policies are needed to ensure these popular contests are fair and skills-based. The audit procedures outlined in Senate Bill 352 will hold companies accountable for their operations and allow consumers to continue partaking in an enjoyable pastime without concern,” said Sen. Unterman.

Senate Bill 352 will require operators of fantasy sports contests in Georgia to:

• Set restrictions on who can play certain fantasy contests, including company employees, individuals who do not meet minimum age requirements, professional athletes and NCAA athletes;
• Ensure that employees with access to confidential information do not participate in fantasy sports contests or share this information until it is publicly available;
• Enact protections for player account funds;
• Develop procedures for the detection and prevention of transactions associated with money laundering or fraud;
• Participate in an annual audit to ensure compliance and transparency with the regulations set forth in Senate Bill 352. These audits will be conducted by an independent contractor and submitted to the state for review.

Fantasy sports currently operate in 40 states, 18 of which are reviewing similar legislation to regulate the industry. It is anticipated that approximately 14 other states will introduce legislation within the next few weeks.

Senate Bill 352 has been assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee for further consideration.


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.


 

 IMG_1456Sen. Renee Unterman Appointed to Interim Senate Study Committee on Sexual Assault

ATLANTA (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
gavriella.coffman@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


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

ATLANTA (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 www.ncsl.org.

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For Immediate Release:
September 21, 2015

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director
Jennifer.yarber@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


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
gavriella.coffman@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


 

 Pretty ReneeSen. 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 athttps://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/178.

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For Immediate Release:
May 20, 2015

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director
Jennifer.yarber@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Sen. Renee Unterman Honored for Advocacy Work During National Crime Victim Rights Week

ATLANTA (April 20, 2015)  |  Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) was honored by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council for her work as an advocate and supporter of victim’s rights in the Georgia General Assembly. The Council presented Sen. Unterman with the Angel Award at their 6th annual ceremony held on April 14, 2015, in Forsyth, Georgia, during National Crime Victim Rights Week.

“I have always been drawn to helping those who find themselves without a voice after a traumatic life event, and I am humbled by this recognition. I will continue to fight for their recovery, as well as the swift punishment of those who seek to profit off of innocence lost,” said Sen. Unterman.

“I can think of no one more deserving of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council’s 2015 award for exceptional service to victims than Senator Renee Unterman,” said Jacqueline Bunn, Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Coordination Council. For more than twenty years, she has tirelessly championed victims’ causes. Her most recent effort to get ‘safe harbor’ legislation passed epitomizes her work. Because of her efforts children in our state forced into prostitution can be viewed as victims instead of criminals.”

“Sen. Renee Unterman has worked tirelessly to pass legislation which helps protect the elderly and minors who are trafficked in the sex industry,” said Vernon Keenan, Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “She has a passion for her work and for helping those who are not able to help themselves. Sen. Unterman is a true champion for people who are part of an at-risk population.”

National Crime Victim Rights Week is an annual observance facilitated by The Office for Victims of Crime, The Office of Justice Programs and the U.S. Department of Justice. This year’s event was held from April 19 – 25, 2015. This year’s theme—Engaging Communities, Empowering Victims—is meant to emphasize the role of the community in the support and empowerment of crime victims.

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For Immediate Release:
April 20, 2015

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director
Jennifer.yarber@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Sen. Renee Unterman Honors Retiring Gwinnett County Public Servants

ATLANTA (January 29, 2015)  |  Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) recognized the distinguished careers of three retiring Gwinnett County public servants in the Senate Chamber this week. Gwinnett residents Ari Russell, Chief of Police Charles M. Walters and Kim Conroy were honored with Senate Resolutions 17, 18, and 21, respectively.

“I am honored to recognize the unmatched careers of Ari Russell, Police Chief Charles M. Walters, and Kim Conroy.” said Sen. Renee Untermnan. “Their accomplishments exemplify what it means to be a public servant, and I am thankful for their many years of dedication. Gwinnett County is a better place to live because of their efforts, and I wish them all the best in retirement.”

Ari Russell is retiring as the Executive Director of Gwinnett United in Drug Education (GUIDE), a joint initiative formed by the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners and the Gwinnett County Board of Education focused on the reduction and prevention of substance abuse.  Under her leadership, GUIDE has achieved many significant accomplishments, including the creation of Smoke Free Gwinnett, a coalition that championed the successful adoption of clean indoor air ordinances in Gwinnett County.

Chief of Police Charles M. Walters is retiring after 35 years of service in the Gwinnett County Police Department. Chief Walters holds a master’s degree in criminal justice and is a 1993 graduate of the FBI National Academy. He began his career as a police officer in Gwinnett County in 1979 and was appointed Chief of Police in 2003.

Kim Conroy has served as the Director of Transportation on the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners since 2012. Mr. Conroy began working for the Gwinnett County Department of Transportation in 1985. A member of the American Public Works Association and Institute of Transportation Engineers, Mr. Conroy has served on numerous committees in Gwinnett County.

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For Immediate Release:
January 29, 2015

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director
Jennifer.yarber@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Medical Association of Georgia Honors Sen. Renee Unterman with 1849 Friend of Medicine Award

ATLANTA (January 15, 2015) | Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) was recently honored with the 1849 Friend of Medicine Award from the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG). The organization specifically recognized Sen. Unterman’s leadership of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, as well as her support of Georgia’s medical personnel and work to improve safety and licensing regulations.

“It is an honor to receive the Friend of Medicine Award from the Medical Association of Georgia,” said Sen. Renee Unterman. “I look forward to continuing my relationship with this upstanding organization, and I thank them for their efforts to provide physicians across the state with the tools and assistance needed to deliver the best medical care possible.”

“MAG reserves this award for legislators who demonstrate extraordinary leadership,” says MAG President Manoj H. Shah, M.D. “In her role as the chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Sen. Unterman has earned her reputation as a genuine advocate for patients and physicians in Georgia.”

With more than 7,500 members, MAG is the leading voice for the medical profession in Georgia. The organization’s membership includes physicians in every specialty and practice setting in the state. Founded in 1849, MAG membership has increased by more than 35 percent since 2010. For more background on the organization, visit www.mag.org.

For Immediate Release:
January 15, 2015
For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Director
Brett Johnson, Broadcast Specialist
Brett.Johnson@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Sen. Renee Unterman Champions “Safe Harbor” Legislation with Candlelight Vigil and Press Conference

Sen. Unterman and a Vigil Attendee

ATLANTA (December 12, 2014)  |  Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) hosted a press conference and candlelight vigil on Thursday, December 11, in support of proposed legislation for child victims of human trafficking. Senate Bill 8, also known as the “Safe Harbor” bill, was pre-filed on Thursday morning to address several inconsistencies in the prosecution of human trafficking cases in Georgia. The press conference and candlelight vigil were held with the full support and assistance of advocacy groups Street Grace, Wellspring Living, youthSpark and Georgia Cares. Speakers included Rev. Dr. Scott Weimer and Rabbi David Spinrad, as well as Sen. Unterman.

“This has been a long four-year journey of advocacy, education, and sincere determination of explaining to Georgia citizens exactly what is happening to vulnerable children in the child sex trafficking trade. Georgia is a state that deeply cares about the children who are being sold for a profit in the sex trade industry, and this legislation is meant to send a clear message that we do not tolerate these actions and believe in severe punishments for profiteers,” said Sen. Unterman.

“We are excited about the ‘Safe Harbor’ legislation sponsored by Sen. Unterman. This is another helpful step in the journey to protect our children from the atrocity of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking.  We are honored to be working with legislators such as Sen. Unterman who make the safety of Georgia children a top priority,” said Cheryl De-Luca Johnson, President and CEO of Street Grace, a faith-based organization dedicated to ending domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) in Metro Atlanta and throughout the United States.

Specifically, Senate Bill 8 would create the following directives for child sex trafficking victims and their captors:

  • The statute of limitations for actions defined as “childhood sexual abuse” would be extended until the victim reaches the ages of 23 or 25, depending on the criminal actions committed against the victim
  • Toll the statute of limitations for a minor’s civil cause of action for childhood sexual abuse until a minor reaches the age of 18
  • Amend the tolling limitations for tort actions while a defendant’s criminal prosecution is pending
  • Create the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund and Commission, which will offer proper medical treatment, counseling, and other assistance programs for victims
  • Incorporate required Federal guidelines outlined in HR 4980, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, passed by Congress earlier this year

Senate Bill 8 builds upon the statutes set forth by House Bill 200, which passed during the 2011 legislative session and subsequently signed into Georgia law by Governor Nathan Deal. House Bill 200 was a historic change to Georgia law that created severe punishments for criminals who sell children for a profit in the sex trade. This bill increased criminal penalties such as prison terms and fines, and also allows the confiscation of assets and affirmative defense.

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For Immediate Release:
December 12, 2014

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director
Jennifer.yarber@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Sen. Renee Unterman to Pre-File “Safe Harbor” Legislation Tomorrow Morning

ATLANTA (December 10, 2014)  |  Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) will officially pre-file legislation in the Georgia Senate to further the protection of child victims on the morning of Thursday, December 11. The “safe harbor” legislation will address inconsistencies in the prosecution of human trafficking cases at the state level, impose harsher punishments on those convicted of this terrible crime, and create a funding mechanism to provide for the care and rehabilitation of child sex trafficking victims.

“It has been a long four-year journey of advocacy, education, and sincere determination explaining to Georgia citizens exactly what is happening to vulnerable children in the child sex trafficking trade. House Bill 200, authored by former state Rep. Ed Lindsey, was a historic change to Georgia law that punishes criminals who prey on children by selling them for profit in the sex trade. This bill increased criminal penalties with prison terms and fines, as well as allowed confiscation of assets and affirmative defense,” said Sen. Unterman.

Current state law fails to recognize that victims are not ready or conditioned to not identify their traffickers. This leads to a problematic situation where human trafficking victims are punished because prosecuting attorneys do not realize the depth of the case. The legislation proposed by Sen. Unterman would offer immunity to minors who are forced into human trafficking, as well as proper medical treatment, counseling, and other assistance programs for victims. The legislation will add requirements that are compatible with HB 200.

According to Shared Hope, an advocacy group, Georgia is currently ranked with a “B” letter grade in its protections against child sex trafficking. The pre-filed legislation reflects pro-active measures that recognize children as victims and not criminals, creates a therapeutic safety net system of care and bridges the gap of public/private partnerships with community non-profits.  The legislation will also incorporate required Federal guidelines outlined in HR 4980, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, passed by Congress earlier this year.

“Georgia is a state that deeply cares about the children who are being sold for a profit in the sex trade industry. This legislation is meant to send a strong and clear message that we do not tolerate these actions and believe in severe punishments for profiteers. We are a state that recognizes societal problems, and Georgia should strive for nothing less than an “A” letter grade in the protection of its children,” said Sen. Unterman.

Sen. Unterman will host a press conference and candlelight vigil at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow evening at North Avenue Presbyterian Church (607 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta) in support of the legislation. The event is being held with the assistance of several advocacy groups, including Street Grace, Wellspring Living, youthSpark and Georgia Cares.

The agenda for the press conference and candlelight vigil is as follows:

7:00 p.m.                    Opening Remarks and Prayer, Rev. Dr. Scott Weimer

7:10 p.m.                    Legislation Announcement and Explanation, Sen. Renee Unterman

7:30 p.m                     Supporting Remarks from Legislative Colleague, TBD

7:45 p.m.                    Moment of Silence, Sen. Renee Unterman

7:50 p.m.                    Remarks and Prayer, Rabbi David Spinrad

8:00 p.m.                    Closing Remarks, Rev. Dr. Scott Weimer

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For Immediate Release:
December 10, 2014

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director
Jennifer.yarber@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Sen. Renee Unterman Receives Forget-Me-Not Award from the Alzheimer’s Association’s Georgia Chapter

ATLANTA (November 20, 2014)  |  Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) was awarded the Forget-Me-Not Award from the Georgia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association on Tuesday for her continued support of the Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Plan.

“I am honored to receive the Forget-Me-Not Award from the Georgia Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association,” said Sen. Renee Unterman. “Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 200,000 people in Georgia alone, so it is crucial that we do everything we can to raise awareness and provide patients and caregivers with the resources they need.”

“Sen. Unterman’s leadership and her commitment to Georgians living with Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias, their caregivers and their families has been overwhelming. She has worked tirelessly over the past four years to draft and move legislation which created the Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Plan,” said Leslie Gregory, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter. “We consider her a true champion, and this year decided to recognize her for her impressive leadership and dedication.”

The Alzheimer’s Association Forget-Me-Not Award is given to key elected officials who champion the organization’s cause through policy action. The Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter offers a wide variety of services designed to meet the unique needs of families caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease. The chapter has been serving Georgia since 1982 and has seven regional offices. In fiscal year 2013, the chapter was able to serve over 102,000 individuals through programs and services provided from community based fundraising activities.

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For Immediate Release:
November 20, 2014

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director
Jennifer.yarber@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Sen. Renee Unterman Visits Augusta Medical Facilities

ATLANTA (November 17, 2014)  |  Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) toured state-of-the-art medical facilities with Sen. Dean Burke (R – Bainbridge) and Rep. Micah Gravley (R – Douglasville) prior to a meeting of the Joint Study Committee on Prescription of Medical Cannabis for Serious Medical Conditions on November 12 in Augusta. The three legislators, who are also members of the joint study committee, were given an up-close-and-personal look at the operations of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center and the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

“I greatly appreciate the staff members and medical professionals who took the time to show us how our work on this committee directly affects its patients and their families. It is my hope that the work performed by this committee will benefit and enhance the services these two superb medical facilities provide,” said Sen. Unterman, co-chair of the Joint Study Committee on Prescription of Medical Cannabis for Serious Medical Conditions.

Sen. Unterman, Sen. Burke and Rep. Gravley started the morning at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center, a 70-bed facility with partner facilities in Charleston, SC; Valdosta, GA; Austell, GA; Miami, FL; and Jackson, MS. The Augusta center is one of only 125 burn centers in the United States, as well as one of the largest. The tour featured the center’s outpatient clinic, intensive care unit, emergency burn center receiving room and an operating suite. Information about the center’s burn education initiatives was also shared during the tour.

The legislators then traveled to the Children’s Hospital of Georgia to visit the facility’s epilepsy monitoring unit. The unit features six beds and treats all spectrums of epilepsy. The trio met with a neurologist and previewed the lab suite where Georgia Regents University will conduct clinical trials on cannabis-derived oil to treat childhood seizures.

The Joint Study Committee on Prescription of Medical Cannabis for Serious Medical Conditions was created through SR 981following the 2014 legislative session. The joint study committee has spent the past several months studying the effects of cannabis oil on seizure disorders and will ultimately determine if it is appropriate to draft legislation allowing the prescription of medical cannabis.

The final meeting of the Joint Study Committee on Prescription of Medical Cannabis for Serious Medical Conditions will be held on Wednesday, December 3, at the Georgia State Capitol.

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For Immediate Release:
November 17, 2014

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director
Jennifer.yarber@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Sen. Renee Unterman Offers Support to Statewide Initiative to Eliminate Child Sex Trafficking

ATLANTA (November 10, 2014)  |  Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) has announced her support for the City of Brookhaven’s “Not Buying It” program during a press briefing today at Brookhaven City Hall. Originally developed through the Governor’s Office for Children and Families (GOCF) Statewide CSEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) Task Force initiative, the program encourages taking a stand against child sex trafficking through advocacy, prevention and restoration. Sen. Unterman spoke at the press briefing alongside several other state and city officials, including Attorney General Sam Olens, Georgia Bureau of Investigations Director Vernon Keenan and Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis.

“I am so proud of the City of Brookhaven and their efforts to end a devastatingly sad problem in Georgia. It’s my hope that other Georgia cities follow their lead by openly showing support for this program and joining the fight against child sex trafficking,” said Sen. Unterman.

At the conclusion of the press briefing, the present elected officials signed the “Not Buying It” pledge, confirming efforts fight child sex trafficking to the fullest extent of the law. The pledge asks signers to “walk inintegrity by not purchasing sex; exhibit courage by raising awareness, speaking out against CSEC, and reversing today’s distorted perception of sex; and leave a legacy by mentoring the next generation to walk in integrity and exhibit the courage to eradicate CSEC from the face of the earth.” The public may also sign the pledge online.

The “Not Buying It” program is the product of one of seven workgroups under the GOCF Statewide CSEC Task Force initiative. Child welfare advocates and professionals from Mercer University, YouthSpark, Wellspring Living, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia Center for Opportunity, The Bastian Center for the Study of Human Trafficking, Interfaith Children’s Movement, and the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta all contributed to the program’s development.

Street Grace (a nonprofit dedicated to eradicating domestic minor sex trafficking), the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the State Attorney General’s Office have formed a partnership to oversee the continued implementation of the “Not Buying It” program statewide.

For further information, or to sign the “Not Buying It” pledge online, visit www.notbuyingit.org.

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For Immediate Release:
November 10, 2014

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director
jennifer.yarber@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Sen. Renee Unterman Appointed to High School Athletics Overview Committee

ATLANTA (August 8, 2014)  |  Sen. Renee Unterman (R- Buford) has been appointed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to serve on the High School Athletics Overview Committee. The High School Athletics Overview Committee was created pursuant to Senate Bill 288 and is tasked with periodically reviewing the operations of Georgia’s high school athletic associations.

“I’m honored to serve on the High School Athletics Overview Committee and look forward to working with our high school athletic associations to ensure transparent operations and the safety of our student athletes,” said Sen. Unterman. “High schools sports promote academic achievement, good sportsmanship, and are an important part of Georgia’s educational landscape.”

“I’m happy to appoint Sen. Renee Unterman to the High School Athletics Overview Committee, and am thankful she is lending her expertise to the important work this committee will perform,” said Lt. Governor Casey Cagle.

The appointment is effective immediately and will last until Jan. 1, 2017.

For Immediate Release:
August 8, 2014

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director
(404) 656-0028
jennifer.yarber@senate.ga.gov


Rep. Allen Peake and Sen. Renee Unterman Announce Medical Cannabis Study Committee Meeting Dates

State Rep. Allen Peake (R – Macon) and State Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford) today announced the upcoming meeting dates for the Prescription of Medical Cannabis for Serious Medical Conditions Joint Study Committee:

Wednesday, August 27: 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Georgia State Capitol (Atlanta)

Wednesday, September 10: 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Mercer University (Macon)

Wednesday, October 1: 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Georgia Gwinnett College (Lawrenceville)

Wednesday, October 22: 1:00p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Georgia Regents University (Augusta)

Wednesday, November 12: 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Georgia State Capitol (Atlanta)

The Prescription of Medical Cannabis for Serious Medical Conditions Joint Study Committee was created by SR 981following the 2014 legislative session.  Committee members include: Sen. Renee Unterman (co-chair), Rep. Allen Peake (co-chair), Sen. Dean Burke (R – Bainbridge), Sen. Butch Miller (R – Gainesville), Sen. Curt Thompson (D – Tucker), Rep. Rich Golick (R – Smyrna), Rep. Micah Gravley (R – Douglasville), and Rep. Margaret Kaiser (D – Atlanta).

Additional information regarding specific meeting locations and agendas will be provided in future communication.

For more information on the Prescription of Medical Cannabis for Serious Medical Conditions Joint Study Committee, click here.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact:
July 10, 2014

Senate Communications:
Jennifer Yarber, Director
(404) 656-0028
jennifer.yarber@senate.ga.gov

House Communications
Betsy Lynch
(404) 656- 3996
betsy.lynch@house.ga.gov

 


Sen. Unterman Releases Statement on Bobby Cagle’s Appointment to Head Division of Family and Children Services

ATLANTA (June 12, 2014) | Sen. Renee Unterman (R –Buford) issues statement regarding Gov. Nathan Deal’s appointment of Bobby Cagle to serve as interim director of Division of Family and Children Services:

“Since last fall, legislators have learned through numerous hearings of many changes needed to be made in the Department of Human Services agency of DFCS.  I am delighted to see the constructive reorganization of DFCS and the appointment of Mr. Bobby Cagle. Mr. Cagle is known for his management skills of running the Department of Early Care and Learning throughout the country.  He has spoken at national conferences that I have attended on early childhood education as a sought after speaker knowledgeable about advancing our state to the forefront of improving childhood quality of life and seeing children live to their full potential.  I have also worked extensively with Ms. Katie Jo Ballard because of my interest in the Georgia Care Connection Program and know she will perform with the best of her abilities with an unwavering commitment for vulnerable children.  Their track records together will advance the agency with much needed reforms.

I applaud Gov. Nathan Deal for being pro-active and recognizing the need for major changes in this agency. I look forward to working with him in January 2015 to advance the necessary legislative changes.  Gov. and Mrs. Deal are always most interested in Georgia’s children, especially those who are the weakest and most vulnerable.  Together, they see the need to create an infrastructure to help protect them. This is a positive step in the right direction with Bobby Cagle at the helm.  I stand ready to assist.”

 

For Immediate Release:
June 12, 2014

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist
shawna.mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Renee Press ConferenceSen. Unterman, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Other State Senators Hold Autism Press Conference

ATLANTA (April 2, 2014) | Sen. Renee Unterman (R –Buford), Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and other Georgia State Senators held a press conference today to discuss the rising prevalence of Autism rates nationwide. April 2, 2014, is recognized as Autism Awareness Day in Georgia.

“In light of the CDC’s recently released report showing a sharp increase in Autism rates, it is vitally important we take swift action to help those suffering with an autism spectrum disorder,” said Sen. Unterman. “The cause of Autism remains unknown, but the steps we take today will go a long way toward providing early intervention and treatment options for countless Georgians statewide.”

Sen. Unterman was joined by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Emory University Pediatric Behavior Specialist Dr. Michael Morrier, Judith Ursitti of Autism Speaks, families of children with Autism including Anna Bullard, Rep. Scot Turner (R- Holly Springs), and the following state senators: Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth), Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell), Sen. Josh McKoon (R – Columbus), Sen. Don Balfour (R – Snellville), Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) and Sen.  Jack Murphy (R-Cumming).

During the press conference, Sen. Unterman joined with Autism supporters statewide to highlight recently released data from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) showing that one in 68 children are now diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The group also reiterated the continued need for Autism coverage and discussed initiatives aimed at reducing the disorder’s overall impact on the state.

Sen. Unterman is one of Georgia’s strongest child welfare advocates and worked tirelessly during the 2014 legislative session to pass measures aimed at protecting Georgia’s youngest citizens. One of these bills, the Kids Care Act, would have provided insurance coverage for children suffering with Autism Spectrum Disorder and enabled further research to be conducted to treat children with seizure disorders. This legislation ultimately failed to achieve final passage during the final hours of the 2014 Session and will require additional legislative action if not addressed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

“I was honored to stand with so many colleagues and families impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorders to recognize World Autism Awareness Day,” said Lt. Governor Casey Cagle.  “We have made tremendous strides in Georgia this year.  Thanks to Governor Deal’s leadership, we will provide coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorders as part of the State Health Benefit Plan.  Additionally, we added significant resources to the Department of Public Health to help with early diagnosis.  With leaders like Senator Unterman, I am confident we will build on the successes of this year and continue to tackle this epidemic that affects 1 in 68 children.”

Research conducted by the CDC and other leading advocacy organizations suggests that early intervention and behavioral therapies are the most effective strategies for the long-term care and treatment of Autism.

For Immediate Release:
April 2, 2014

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist
shawna.mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.002


Sen. Unterman Presents Alzheimer’s and Mortality Rate Study to the Georgia Senate

ATLANTA (March 7, 2014)  |  Today, Sen. Renee Unterman (R –Buford) presented an American Academy of Neurology (AAN) study on Alzheimer’s mortality rates to the Georgia Senate.

“New research has found that mortality rates among those with Alzheimer’s disease are much higher than originally projected,” said Sen. Unterman. “This is an alarming trend as Georgia’s aging population continues to grow and require specialized services and care.”

According to the study, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for many more deaths than previously reported, making it nearly as lethal as the nation’s two biggest killers – heart disease and cancer. The study found that annual death rates from Alzheimer’s are actually close to half a million, instead of the current government-derived number of 85,000.

The AAN study also discovered that chronic under reporting of Alzheimer’s mortality rates is due to death certificates only recording the immediate cause of death, completely missing the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s affects the parts of the brain that control the unconscious functions such as breathing, swallowing and heart rate. Eventually, Alzheimer’s disease leads to complications like pneumonia or the inability to swallow as the brain forgets how to perform everyday functions.

“Through the efforts of the recently established Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Task Force and Georgia’s health care community, we have already begun the process of evaluating Alzheimer’s current and future impact on the state,” said Sen. Unterman. “This study only further confirms the need to continue our efforts and will help government make better health care policy solutions moving forward,” said Sen. Unterman.

The American Academy Neurology study will be released to the public on March 24, 2014.

For Immediate Release:
March 7, 2014

For Information Contact:

Jennifer Yarber, Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist
shawna.mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Sen. Renee Unterman Commends the Suicide Prevention Action Network of Georgia, Inc.

ATLANTA (January 31, 2014)  | Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) sponsored Senate Resolution 760 on January 22, 2014, to commend the Suicide Prevention Action Network of Georgia, Inc. (SPAN-GA) and recognize their efforts to promote suicide prevention and awareness.

Sen. Unterman serves as the chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, which has worked with the Georgia Department of Health and Behavioral Disabilities (DBHDD) to fund and support SPAN-GA and other suicide prevention programs for several years.

“Unfortunately, the incidence of suicide has been rising, especially among young adults between the ages of 20-28. Suicide is preventable and is often the result of a long struggle with mental health issues. We must increase our suicide prevention efforts by acting quickly and doing more to educate Georgians about the impending signs and symptoms of depression and other mental health challenges,” said Unterman.

According to SPAN-GA, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in Georgia, and the third leading cause in young people. Suicide also has a higher death rate than homicide in Georgia. It claimed over 1,100 lives of Georgians in 2011.

SPAN-GA has created effective suicide prevention coalitions throughout Georgia with the support of the Health and Human Services Committee and organizations such as the National Mental Health Association of Georgia (NMHAG) and the Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Public Health.

 

For Immediate Release:
January 31, 2014

For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist
shawna.mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Alzheimers awarnessSen. Unterman Recognizes Alzheimer’s Awareness Month at State Capitol

ATLANTA (November 19, 2013) – Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) held a press conference at the Georgia State Capitol on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 in recognition of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in Georgia.

“Raising awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is important to early diagnosis and ensuring those living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers have the resources they need for future planning and care,” said Senator Unterman.  “In a few short years, our state has made tremendous progress in developing strategies to deal with the long-term effects of cognitive decline in Georgia.”

Senator Unterman was joined by members of the Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Task Force, the Georgia Alzheimer’s Association, the Emory University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the Division of Aging Services. Other attendees included Dave Ellis, an individual currently living with dementia, Sen. Nan Orrock and Reps. Pedro Marin and David Stover.

During the press conference, they spent time highlighting the governor’s proclamation declaring November as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and outlined the importance of developing a Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Response Plan.

Senator Unterman also informed citizens about community resources available to those living with the disease and their caregivers, as well as the importance of early detection and diagnosis.

“We appreciate Governor Deal’s proclaiming November as Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, and the collaborative effort begun by Senator Unterman in the development of the Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Plan. It is so important for Georgians to recognize the warning signs of Alzheimer’s or related dementia,” said Leslie Anderson, President and CEO of the Georgia Alzheimer’s Association.

Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are becoming increasingly widespread in Georgia and throughout the nation. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and as many as 16 million will have the disease in 2050. In Georgia, 14.3 percent – on in seven – of those aged 60 and over report that they are experiencing confusion or memory loss that is happening more often or getting worse.

The Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Task Force, chaired by Sen. Unterman, held several meetings over the past year to assess the current and future impact of Alzheimer’s disease in Georgia and develop a statewide response plan.  The task force must present its recommendations for a statewide Alzheimer’s Response Plan to the governor and the Georgia General Assembly by March 31, 2014.

 

RELEASE
For Immediate Release:
November 19, 2013

For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist
Shawna Mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Senator Unterman Named Legislator of the Year by Georgia Women for a Change

ATLANTA (October 18, 2013) – Senator Renee Unterman (R- Buford) was named “Legislator of the Year” by Georgia Women for a Change, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that seeks to raise awareness of the many challenges facing women today. Senator Unterman received this award because of her unwavering commitment to advancing the fight against human trafficking.

“Human trafficking poses a serious threat to this generation of young people,” said Sen. Unterman. “Protecting our children matters, and I intend to do everything in my power to bring an end to human sex trafficking and ensure our communities provide a safe environment for Georgia’s children.”

Senator Unterman was honored with the “Legislator of the Year” Award as part of the 23rd Annual Georgia Women’s Assembly at the Loudermilk Center in Atlanta on Friday, October 18, 2013. This annual award is presented to a legislator who demonstrates outstanding commitment and excellence toward advancing women’s issues statewide.

“Senator Unterman was chosen for this award because she has led the charge to make Georgia a safe place for the most vulnerable and at risk teens who are the ones lured into prostitution.  She has made it a huge legislative priority when so many other issues are demanding her thought and attention. We applaud her courage and tenacity for taking on this difficult issue and talking about it boldly from the Senate floor. Her leadership has won the day and Georgia is no longer a safe place for traffickers,” said Stephanie Davis, Executive Director of Georgia Women for a Change.

Having previously served as the chair of the Senate Joint Human Trafficking Committee, Senator Unterman is one of the state’s leading advocates in the fight against human trafficking. Earlier this month, she was chosen to serve on the advisory board of Street Grace, a faith-based organization dedicated to putting an end to the domestic sex abuse and the trafficking of minors.

RELEASE
For Immediate Release:
October 18, 2013

For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist
Shawna.Mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


ReneePediatricsSenator Unterman Named “Legislator of the Year” by American Academy of Pediatrics

ATLANTA (October 11, 2013) – Senator Renee Unterman (R- Buford) has received the “Legislator of the Year” Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics.  She was recognized on October 11 at a luncheon held at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia in Dunwoody.

“I appreciate this recognition of my efforts to support Georgia children and families,” said Senator Unterman. “The Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics does great work to enhance the overall health and well-being of children. It is an honor to receive this award from such a respected organization.”

The Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics works with public health care organizations across the state to develop shared legislative priorities and initiatives.  Each year, legislators are chosen for this award based upon their votes and support of a wide-range of health related issues during the previous legislative session.

“With her extensive background in public health, Senator Unterman has been a leader in the Georgia Senate on health care policy issues and has also been a strong advocate for children and adolescents. Her leadership and efforts to protect vulnerable adolescents from exploitation and abuse have made Georgia’s law stronger to combat this terrible problem. We are proud to salute her for her sustained and important advocacy on their behalf,” said Robert Wiskind, MD, president of the Georgia chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization dedicated to the mental, physical, social health and overall well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

RELEASE
For Immediate Release:
October 11, 2013

For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist
Shawna.Mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Senator Unterman Promotes Thrombosis Awareness in Boston

ATLANTA (September 30, 2013) – In recognition of Thrombosis Awareness Month, Senator Renee Unterman (R- Buford) recently joined the North American Thrombosis Forum (NATF) at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in downtown Boston to raise awareness of this potentially life-threatening condition.

“As a survivor of a blood clot in my leg, I am keenly aware of the importance of educating the public about the warning signs associated with pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis,” said Senator Renee Unterman. “I am honored to work with advocacy groups such as the North American Thrombosis Forum and other groups who are working diligently to build a strong grassroots effort in their local communities. This is proof that no matter how small the advocacy group, you can make a significant difference in bringing issues of national importance to the forefront.”

During the event, Senator Unterman delivered a lecture on the importance of advocacy and how small groups can make a big difference. Specifically, she shared tips on how to effectively create a grassroots effort on both the state and local level.

Senator Unterman also joined by several Georgia patient advocates such as Dr. Atul Laddu and his wife Jayashree A. Laddu along with several other researchers. In a recent Thrombosis Awareness Month Press Conference hosted by Senator Renee Unterman at the Georgia State Capitol, Dr. Atul Laddu and his family were present to discuss the dangers and warning signs of deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, cardiac arrest and peripheral vascular disease.

As part of her two-day trip to Boston, Senator Unterman attended a lecture at Harvard University on “Heart Failure and Thromboembolic Risk” on Saturday, September 28. The lecture was presented by Dr. Marc Pfeffer, a professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Shortly after, Senator Unterman was invited to a luncheon at the Copley Hotel hosted by NATF President Dr. Sam Goldhaber and Dr. Marc Pfeffer.

Senator Unterman continues to be one of Georgia’s leading advocates for Thrombosis Awareness. While on a business trip, Senator Unterman experienced a deep vein thrombosis caused by prolonged airline flights. To raise awareness of this condition, she sponsored Senate Resolution 133 during the 2013 Legislative Session to establish the month of September as Thrombosis Awareness Month in Georgia.

The North American Thrombosis Forum is a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to thrombosis prevention, diagnosis and treatment. As part of its primary areas of focus, the NATF works to provide educational tools and prevention resources, promote public policy and conduct clinical research to improve diagnosis and therapy outcomes.

RELEASE
For Immediate Release:
September 30, 2013

For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist
Shawna.Mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Sen. Unterman Named Recipient of the 2013 Family Medicine Legislative Champion of the Year Award

ATLANTA (September 27, 2013) – Sen. Renee Unterman (R- Buford) was recently named as one of the recipients of the 2013 Family Medicine Legislative Champion of the Year Award by the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians (GAFP). Sen. Unterman received the award at the first ever Republican Women of Hall County Meeting on September 26 at the Silver Bay Seafood Restaurant in Gainesville.

“It is an honor to be named as a recipient of the 2013 Family Medicine Legislative Champion of the Year award,” said Sen. Unterman. “The Georgia Academy of Family Physicians does great work to assist family physicians and their patients statewide. Because of their efforts, Georgia children and families are able to receive the highest quality of care.”

The Family Medicine Legislative Champion of the Year award is given to legislators who demonstrate outstanding leadership and an unceasing commitment to assist family physicians and their patients.

During the inaugural Republican Women of Hall County meeting, Renee Unterman spent time discussing the importance of women serving in politics and her role as the only Republican woman in the Georgia State Senate.

“Senator Unterman is a champion for the health and welfare of Georgia’s citizens, and it is with great pride that we recognize her passion and dedication for putting children and the elderly at the forefront of so many important issues to local and state governments,” said GAFP President Jonathan Mitchell Cook, DO, FAAFP.

The Georgia Academy of Family Physicians works on behalf of family physicians by providing access to legal services, legislative updates concerning the family health care industry and educational opportunities to learn about the latest advancements in the medical field.

RELEASE
For Immediate Release:
September 27, 2013

For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist
Shawna.Mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Senator Unterman Attends Joint Study Committee on Medicaid Reform

ATLANTA (September 25, 2013) – Senator Renee Unterman (R- Buford) attended the second meeting of the Joint Study Committee on Medicaid Reform on Monday, September 23 at Wiregrass Technical College in Valdosta. Directly following the meeting, interested committee members were invited to participate in a tour of the Valdosta State University Science Center as well as the South Georgia Medical Center.

“Georgia Medicaid funding and the long-term implementation of this program face considerable challenges, especially as Georgia rolls-out key provisions of the new health care law,” said Senator Unterman. “As health care costs continue to rise, we must make every effort to ensure adequate funding for Georgia Medicaid while also improving the program’s overall efficiency.”

The study committee on Medicaid Reform covered a variety of topics, including:

  • Training the health care workforce to meet Georgia’s needs
  • Telemedicine
  • Provider network access, Medicaid FFS & CMO quality measures and rural health
  • Medicaid best practices
  • Georgia Medicaid Program input and feedback

The Joint Study Committee on Medicaid Reform was created by the passage of House Resolution 107 during the 2013 legislative session. As stated in the resolution, the committee will also include eighteen total members: five other members of the Senate as appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and six members from the House of Representatives as appointed by the Speaker of the House.  The Governor will also appoint six representatives; one member of the Department of Community Health, one member representing hospitals, one member representing insurance providers, one member representing nursing homes, one physician and one consumer member.

The committee will specifically study current policies and procedures of Medicaid and determine whether current programs are being implemented in the most efficient and effective manner. Over the next several months, this study committee will discuss appropriate plans for Medicaid reform in Georgia and report its findings on or before December 31, 2013.

RELEASE
For Immediate Release:
September 25, 2013

For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist
Shawna.Mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


 

 

 

081513_Unterman_NCSL_FeedHungry-300x280Sen. Unterman Collects 5K Grant for Georgia Charity at NCSL Legislative Summit

ATLANTA (August 19, 2013) – Sen. Renee Unterman (R- Buford)  recently joined legislators from throughout the nation at the annual National Conference for State Legislators (NCSL) to collect food for needy families as part of the NCSL “Hunger Partnership Backpack Buddy Challenge.”   

“Hunger is an incredibly important issue, and one that I care deeply about,” said Sen. Unterman. “Events like this demonstrate how much we can achieve when the public and private sectors work together. I am extremely proud of every state that participated and considered it an honor to receive the 5k Grant on behalf of the State of Georgia.”

Sen. Renee Unterman, co-chair of the NCSL Hunger Partnership, was one of the key organizers and speakers of this year’s event. During this statewide competition, legislators and volunteers representing all 50 states had the opportunity to stuff 1,000 backpacks of food for impoverished kids in the Atlanta area.

“The state that packed the most backpacks and received the 5K grand prize grant for their hunger relief charity was this year’s host state, Georgia.  New Mexico and Utah were runners-up and each received a $2,500 grant.  New Hampshire and Oregon also were awarded $1,000 each for the highest rates of participation.

The Backpack Buddy Challenge was presented by Yum! Brands, the parent company of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut.  The collections from this year’s event will benefit the “Snack in a Backpack” program at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church in metro Atlanta.

“We believe it is our privilege and our responsibility to lead the fight against hunger and to engage our associates, customers and partners to make a difference in the lives of the 1 in 4 children in the U.S. who are at risk of hunger,” said Laura Melillo Barnum, Executive Director of the Yum! Brands Foundation. “We congratulate Senator Unterman and all Georgia legislators for their leadership and commitment to hungry children in Atlanta and across the U.S.”

The National Restaurant Association and the Atlanta Community Food Bank sponsored the event and volunteer efforts along with several other national and Atlanta-based non-profits, including the Georgia Association of Food Banks and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Metro Atlanta.

Established in 2010 by the NCSL Foundation for State Legislators, the Hunger Partnership works to raise awareness and develop long-term strategies to reduce the prevalence of hunger nationwide.  As one of the Hunger Partnership’s key founders, Sen. Unterman is one of Georgia’s top advocated for hunger relief and works to promote education, research and public policy recommendations at both the state and local level.

RELEASE
For Immediate Release:
August 19, 2013

For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Interim Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist
Shawna.Mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


Sen. Unterman Named “Legislator of the Year” by National Association of Local Boards of Health

ATLANTA (August 15, 2013) – The National Association of Local Boards of Health (NALBOH) has named Sen. Renee Unterman (R- Buford) as the recipient of the organization’s annual “Legislator of the Year” award. Sen. Renee Unterman was nominated for her many contributions to public health.

“I am honored to be recognized for my work to advance public health care policy in Georgia,” said Sen. Unterman. “I regret that I was unable to receive this award in person, but I am extremely grateful for the work of organizations like NALBOH for advancing sound, public health policy across the nation.”

Each year, the “Legislator of the Year” award is presented to a state legislator who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in public health care governance. Deborah Riner, president-elect of the Georgia Public Health Association, accepted this award on Sen. Unterman’s behalf at the 2013 National Association of Local Boards of Health annual conference in Salt Lake, Utah on Wednesday, August 14.

As chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Sen. Renee Unterman is one of Georgia’s leading advocates for public health care reform. Her commitment and passion for public health began while serving as Mayor of Loganville, Georgia and throughout her career as a clinical social worker and critical care nurse.

Sen. Unterman devotes a large portion of her time to improving public health by working closely with public health boards, private hospitals, physicians and private health care practitioners.  In particular, Sen. Unterman has served on the Georgia Board of Health from 1999 to 1994, and has also played an instrumental role in the streamlining of services at the Georgia Department of Public Health.

For over two decades, Sen. Unterman has focused her efforts on advancing the following public health care issues, among many others:

  • Public health secondary education
  • Childhood immunizations/childhood obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Alzheimer’s and related dementia

Sen. Unterman is also one of the key founders and currently serves as the co-chair of the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) “National Hunger Partnership.” This statewide competition encourages legislators who are participating in the annual NCSL Conference to pack backpacks of food for impoverished children nationwide.

“Georgia is truly fortunate to have strong leadership across its state.  Sen. Renee Unterman is the epitome of remarkable leadership.  Recognizing that her constituents’ health needs were not independent of our entire state’s citizens’ needs, she rallied to find workable solutions that would benefit all of us.  She purposefully led the charge to move the Division of Public Health away from the Department of Human Resources to become its own department, reporting directly to the Governor of Georgia.  Today – just three years later – our state’s public health leadership is positively positioned to make a dramatic impact on the health of our citizens,” said Kathryn Martin, President of the Georgia Public Health Association.

The National Association of Local Boards of Health is committed to strengthening local boards of public health through research, leadership and public policy support. To learn more, visitwww.nalboh.org.

RELEASE
For Immediate Release:
August 15, 2013

For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Interim Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist
Shawna.Mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028

 


 

Sen. Unterman Holds Press Conference for Thrombosis Awareness Month

ATLANTA (August 2, 2013) – Sen. Renee Unterman (R- Buford), chairwoman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, held a press conference today to announce the month of September as Thrombosis Awareness Month. During the 2013 Legislative Session, Sen. Unterman sponsored Senate Resolution 133 to make this month a reality.

“My own personal history with surviving a blood clot inspired me to join with organizations such as the North American Thrombosis Forum to organize Georgia’s first advocacy group for Deep Vein Thrombosis,” said Sen. Unterman. “By raising public awareness and educating Georgians about the warning signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism, it is my hope that the number of these life-threatening diseases will be drastically reduced.”

During the press conference, Sen. Unterman was joined by members of the medical community, including the North American Thrombosis Forum (NATF), to raise public awareness and discuss solutions to minimize the frequency of deep vein thrombosis and other related diseases.

Each year, an estimated 2 million Americans are affected by Deep Vein Thrombosis, or DVT, a blood clot in the leg. Pulmonary Embolism, a serious and potentially fatal complication of DVT, results in approximately 300,000 deaths per year in the U.S. – more than AIDS and breast cancer combined, according to NATF.

Deep Vein Thrombosis can strike at any age and present warning signs such as swelling, redness of the skin, pain or tenderness in the afflicted area. Some of the major risk factors associated with this disease may include:

  • Age/Heredity
  • Immobilization
  • Surgery
  • Cancer
  • Pregnancy

“The State of Georgia and the North American Thrombosis Forum would like to thank Sen. Renee Unterman for sponsoring Senate Resolution 133 and working to make September Thrombosis Awareness Month a reality in Georgia,” said Atul Laddu, MD, PhD, a local volunteer working for the North American Thrombosis Forum.

The North American Thrombosis Forum is a non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to thrombosis prevention, diagnosis and treatment. As part of its primary areas of focus, the NATF works to provide educational tools and prevention resources, promote public policy and conduct clinical research to improve diagnosis and therapy outcomes.

RELEASE
For Immediate Release:
August 2, 2013

For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Interim Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist
Shawna.Mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028

 


 

 

Unterman.Swearing-In.2-300x200Sen. Unterman Appointed to Governor’s Office for Children and Families Advisory Board

ATLANTA (August 1, 2013) – Sen. Renee Unterman (R- Buford) was appointed to the Governor’s Office for Children Families Advisory Board on Thursday, August 1, 2013 in a swearing-in ceremony held by Governor Nathan Deal.

“As a long-time advocate of protecting Georgia’s children and families, I am honored to serve on the Governor’s advisory board,” said Sen. Unterman. “I look forward to working with the members of this board, including First Lady Sandra Deal, to ensure the welfare and prosperity of all Georgia families.”

Throughout her years as a public servant, Sen. Renee Unterman has focused on protecting Georgia children and families, giving special attention to the young and vulnerable. In particular, Sen. Unterman has made it her mission to champion legislation to end the sexual exploitation of minors. To this day, she continues to fight for a change in Georgia law that will view those children forced into prostitution as the victim and not a criminal.

Senator Unterman grew up in Gwinnett County and graduated from Berkmar High School. She earned her Nursing Degree at Georgia State University and trained at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. She also holds an undergraduate degree in social work from the University of Georgia. After graduation, she worked as an emergency room and critical care nurse.

She is a native Georgian and has lived in Gwinnett for many years, currently residing in Buford with her husband Phil.

The Governor’s Office for Children and Families Advisory Board will focus its efforts on building strong communities through statewide partnerships that promote the well-being of Georgia families. The board is responsible for advising the Governor of policy recommendations and providing resources and support to communities across the state.

RELEASE
For Immediate Release:
August 1, 2013

For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Interim Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist
Shawna.Mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


 

SouthGAHosptialTour_ArchboldMedicalCenterBurkeUntermanSen. Unterman Tours Rural Georgia Public Health Care Facilities

ATLANTA (July 26, 2013) – Sen. Renee Unterman (R –Buford), chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, recently participated in an extensive four-day tour to examine the unique challenges facing Georgia’s rural health care network.

“It was an honor to visit Georgia’s rural health care facilities and gather feedback from some of our state’s most respected health care providers and policymakers, said Sen. Unterman. “Working to strengthen public-private partnerships is crucial to bringing quality health care to Georgians and reducing the growing disparity between rural and urban health care networks statewide.”

Throughout her years as a public servant, Sen. Renee Unterman has focused on improving Georgia’s extensive health care system, and has given special attention to developing specialized programs and services to optimize Georgia’s rural health care network.

While visiting districts across South Georgia, Sen. Unterman was joined by several of her colleagues in the General Assembly, including Sens. Cecil Staton, Dean Burke, Tim Golden and Rep. Amy Carter. Highlights of the trip include visits to the following health care facilities:

  • The Calhoun County Public Health Department
  • The Dougherty      County Public Health Department
  • The Phoebe Putney Medical Center in Albany
  • Bainbridge Memorial Hospital
  • Archbold Medical Center in Thomasville
  • South GA. Medical and the Valdosta State University Health Sciences Building
  • The Medical Center of Central Georgia  and the Mercer University School of  Medicine

At each stop along the tour, Sen. Unterman worked with interested stakeholders and health care providers to identify possible solutions to strengthen Georgia’s health care network and ensure rural health care facilities continue to operate under the highest quality of care.

The four-day tour concluded with a joint statewide public forum to solicit input for both the intrastate funding formula for aging services and the Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Plan. During the 2013 Legislative Session, Sen. Renee Unterman sponsored the resolution responsible for creating the Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Task Force. This group of policymakers and interested stakeholders will help establish a comprehensive statewide plan for addressing the current and future impact of Alzheimer’s disease in Georgia.

 

RELEASE

For Immediate Release
July 26, 2013

For Contact Information:
Jennifer Yarber, Interim Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist
Shawna.mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028

 

 

 


Untermangroup2014

Senator Unterman Announces Results of 2011 Cognitive Impairment Report

ATLANTA (May 24, 2013) – Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) held a joint press conference with members of the health care community at the State Capitol on Friday, May 24 to highlight recently released data from the 2011 Georgia Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System’s (BRFSS) Cognitive Impairment Report. This comprehensive study details the cognitive and behavioral risk factors associated with memory loss.

“It was an honor to join with members of the health care community and interested stakeholders in announcing the findings of the BRFSS Cognitive Impairment Report,” said Sen. Unterman. “The invaluable data provided within this report will help advance our statewide efforts to provide Alzheimer’s patients and their families with the care they deserve.”

During the press conference, Sen. Unterman was joined by the Georgia Alzheimer’s Association, members of the newly-created Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Plan Task Force, the Georgia Department of Health, the Division of Aging Services at the Department of Human Services, and other interested stakeholders to discuss the results of the 2011 BRFSS Cognitive Impairment Report.

Commissioned to help analyze the risk factors associated with cognitive impairment, the 2011 BRFSS “Cognitive Module” targeted individuals who have shown continued signs of memory loss or confusion over the past twelve months. Through a confidential telephone survey, respondents were asked to report current health care behaviors and overall access to care. The data collected from this survey will help researchers, health care providers and state officials develop Alzheimer’s response plans to meet the growing needs of this population.

“The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey which is the world’s largest telephone survey, tracks health risks in the United States has been conducted in Georgia for thirty years on medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.  2011 is the first time that the Cognitive Module has been conducted in Georgia, and was done through a cooperative effort between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Georgia Department of Public Health, and the Alzheimer’s Association. The findings are significant,” said Ginny Helms, Vice President for Programs, Services and Public Policy, Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter.

“We thank Senator Unterman for her partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter through raising awareness at both the state and local level and building the necessary groundwork for future legislative action.  She leads with clarity, compassion and courage, truly making her a champion for those living with Alzheimer’s and related dementias.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and affects nearly 5 million Americans. In Georgia alone, approximately 120,000 Georgians are living with this disease and require specialized care. The increase in Alzheimer’s disease and Related Dementias has also resulted in rising costs for our nation’s health care system. Nationwide, Alzheimer’s care costs approximately $189 billion annually.

As a result of this growing trend, Sen. Unterman sponsored Senate Bill 14, which created a statewide Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Taskforce aimed at assessing the current and future impact of Alzheimer’s disease in Georgia.  The task force will also examine the state’s existing programs and determine the need for additional legislation. Through the creation of this task force, Georgia has joined 23 other states who have already published an Alzheimer’s response plan.

For an overview of the 2011 BRFSS report, you may click on the following link:http://www.alz.org/documents/georgia/cognitive_decline_in_georgia–data_from_the_2011_brfss.pdf

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jennifer Yarber, Interim Director
Shawna Mercer,Sr. Communications Specialist
Shawna.Mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028


 

042313_UntermanGPHALegisYearAward

Sen. Renee Unterman Named Legislator of the Year by the Georgia Public Health Association

ATLANTA (May 2, 2013) – The Georgia Public Health Association (GPHA) named Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) as the GPHA 2013 Legislator of the Year during their annual conference on April 23.

“At the beginning of my career as a public servant, I challenged the Department of Public Health, lawmakers and health advocates alike to sit around the table and develop strategies to keep Georgians healthy,” said Sen. Unterman.  “This is also a personal challenge that I’ve gladly taken on.  The health of our state should come first and foremost, since Georgia needs a healthy workforce and community before we can address other concerns.  I am thankful for this recognition and promise to continue prioritizing public health on my legislative agenda.”

Sen. Unterman has been a longtime advocate for public health through various initiatives, from carrying House Bill 214, which created the Department of Public Health (DPH) as a cabinet level department in 2011, and securing funds for the DPH through the appropriations process this session.  Furthermore, she was a leader in developing new funding equations for county health departments that were implemented in 2011 by modernizing the 30-year-outdated formulas.  Recently, she authored Senate Bill 14 to create a state-wide Alzheimer’s and Dementia Task Force; it is currently awaiting the Governor’s signature.

“Renee Unterman has committed her time and energy to understanding public health issues,” said GPHA President Regina Abbott. “And, she has invested her considerable political acumen in turning good ideas into effective legislation. We are thrilled to honor the senator for her many contributions to the field of public health, this year and in years past.”

The Georgia Public Health Association is comprised of individuals and organizations advocating for public health, promoting the scientific foundation of public health practice and policy, and representing a broad voice for public health in Georgia.

RELEASE
For Immediate Release:
May 2, 2013

For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Interim Director
Shawna Mercer, Sr. Communications Specialist
Shawna.Mercer@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028