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:

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

ATLANTA (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

ATLANTA (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

ATLANTA (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

ATLANTA (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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sen. Renee Unterman Receives Voice of Gratitude Award

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

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

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

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

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


Nonprofit Supports Meals for Seniors

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

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

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

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

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