|Throughout my career, there have been a number of pressing issues affecting our Georgia citizens. As the world continues to change, so does the political landscape. It is my job to ensure that I am well versed on all sides of the argument so that I can make an educated decision on what is best for our great state.|
Senator Unterman very fittingly deemed the 2015 session, “The Year of the Child”. A number of bills during session focused on the well being of our younger citizens. Ava, Haleigh and Rachel became household names as legislation regarding autism, medical cannabis oil and sex trafficking made headlines throughout the state. Senator Unterman was pleased to assist in the passage of many bills supporting Georgia’s children, which has been a major focus while serving as an elected official.
Ava’s Law- Autism Coverage for Children Under 6: Senator Unterman was instrumental in pushing for this legislation from the start. The autism coverage bill passed out of Senator Unterman’s Health & Human Services Committee and out of the Senate chamber for a number of years before receiving a hearing in the House of Representatives. In May of 2015, after a 7 year push, Governor Deal signed Ava’s Law.
Ava’s mother, Anna Bullard had this to say about Senator Unterman’s efforts regarding Ava’s Law- “Senator Unterman understands first hand the struggles families with children with autism face. She stood by us and our children even when it seemed hopeless and continued to fight for what was right. Ava’s law will give children who have insurance in the commercial market coverage for treatment that will change their life and give them the opportunity to live independently in the great state of Georgia. We could not have passed Ava’s Law without Senator Unterman’s tireless efforts to help children and families in Georgia.”
Rachel’s Act / Safe Harbor Sexual Exploitation Law-Senator Unterman championed and ultimately passed two initiatives pertaining to child trafficking in Georgia. The legislation addresses several inconsistencies in the prosecution of human trafficking cases in Georgia. A determined Senator Unterman explains, “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”.
Hidden Predator Act- Prior to the Governor’s signing of Georgia’s, Hidden Predator Act, our state had some of the weakest laws in the nation regarding the statute of limitations against those committing sexual abuse crimes. The Hidden Predator act, House Bill 17, expands the statute of limitations, from 5 years to 30 years. The legislation also allows for “retro-action”, providing a two-year time frame for sexual abuse victims, whose civil claims were blocked by the statute of limitations in the past, to file a case against their perpetrator. Additionally, the bill allows for victims and guardians to access investigation records. Senator Unterman successfully carried House Bill 17 through the Senate chamber, where it would eventually be signed into law.
The Georgia General Assembly is constantly working on issues affecting all Georgians. Transportation, education, healthcare, tax reform are ever changing. Click the slideshows below to keep up with all major happenings during the legislative session.