One of the issues I hear about most frequently from citizens in our community is concern about crime and public safety.
One of the primary reasons Fayette County Georgia has such a prosperous past and present is our low crime rate. Parents feel secure raising their children in this community, which has led to us having an extraordinarily family-oriented citizenry in Fayette County.
I was raised in Fayette County and I am now raising my own children in Fayette County. As a legislator, one of my top priorities is ensuring our community continues to be a safe place to live.
The growth of our county has certainly brought challenges that have made the jobs of our local law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges more challenging. It is vital these individuals have every tool possible to continue keeping our community safe from crime.
When I was elected in December I requested the House leadership place me on the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, as this is the committee that authors all of the criminal justice legislation in the House.
I was excited when this request was granted because it put me in a position to have a very hands-on role in shaping public safety legislation during this session of the General Assembly.
With the session just having wrapped up, I am pleased to report we passed several pieces of legislation now awaiting the Governor’s signature that will enhance the safety and security of our children and community.
There is nothing more frightening as a parent than the thought of a criminal targeting your child. Our Committee passed and the General Assembly adopted several pieces of legislation aimed at providing our children additional protections from predators. First, we enacted legislation that will make it unlawful for convicted sex offenders to photograph minors without the explicit consent of the minor’s parents.
The same legislation included a provision that would further prohibit any convicted sex offender from living or working within 1000 feet of places where minors congregate, such as schools and day care centers.
This session we also passed legislation to provide additional protections for children from predators that would seek out victims via the internet. SB 474 requires the Department of Education to develop and implement a program to teach internet safety to children.
The same legislation includes a provision that requires internet providers to make available to parents commercially available technology to monitor their children’s internet activity and block access to undesirable internet sites. These new laws will provide parents and law enforcement officials assistance in the effort to protect our children from those that would do them harm.
Georgia is one of the only states in the country that does not have a felony statute for multiple DUI offenders.
Under current law, an individual can get multiple DUI convictions without the crime ever being elevated above a misdemeanor. House Bill 336, which was authored in my committee and was passed by the House and Senate, provides that fourth and all subsequent DUI convictions will be felonies in the State of Georgia. This will ensure these multiple offenders will be punished in a manner that is appropriate for the crime of repeatedly endangering the lives of Georgia’s driving public.
The arrest and guilty plea of former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has brought attention to the barbaric practice of dog fighting.
I do not think anyone could have imagined that such a horrific activity was still prevalent in our society.
This session the General Assembly passed legislation that will bring tough new penalties for not only individuals engage in dog fighting, but also the spectators that attend such events. Civilized society cannot include such a brutal and corrupt practice as dog fighting and this new law sends a strong message that it will not be tolerated in Georgia.
This is just a sampling of the criminal justice legislation enacted this session by the General Assembly in an effort to enhance the safety of the citizens of Georgia. We are blessed in Fayette County to have dedicated and vigilant public safety officers. As long as I am in the state legislature, I will work to provide those on the front line of law enforcement with every possible tool in the effort to keep our community a safe and wonderful place to live and raise our children.
Matt Ramsey, Fayette County News, Today in Peachtree City