The following article is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not those of AllOnGeorgia.
William Ligon is a state senator in Georgia who represents Brantley, Camden, Glynn, and McIntosh counties and portions of Charlton County.
Despite our day off on Tuesday in anticipation of inclement weather, we had a productive week of committee meetings here at the Capitol. I introduced two bills this week: Senate Bill 37 and Senate Bill 38. These bills provide clarity for certain legal processes by addressing procedure and unnecessary red tape.
In 2018, the Georgia Court of Appeals heard Crop Production Services Inc. v T. E. Moye, a case that pitted a written contract against a spoken agreement that rescinded the creditor’s obligations. In Moye, the court determined that the written guaranty could be rescinded by a mutual oral agreement, despite the fact that the guaranty itself was subject to the Statute of Frauds and had even contained a provision requiring that notice of revocation be made in writing. This court precedent, which set aside almost three decades of case law, will create a great deal of future litigation unless we clearly spell out in the law how alterations to agreements must be made.
I have introduced SB 37 to require that alterations to any agreements that fall under the Statute of Frauds are written and signed in the same way that a written guaranty was initially made. Our economic system needs the stability of clear statutes, and our courts need to follow those statutes. Otherwise, the financial institutions we rely on to provide lending services will be at the mercy of the courts.
The second bill I’ve introduced is SB 38, which will make civilian involvement in the court system easier and will eliminate unnecessary fees. Specifically, the bill excludes certain types of legal filings from electronic requirements, thus allowing individuals who are not attorneys to file pleadings and documents the old-fashioned way, on paper. Additionally, by removing fees for electronic filing for the Attorney General, district attorneys, and public defenders, state funding will remain in these offices rather than going back to the state as fees. Overall, SB 38 simplifies various court procedures and eliminates circular electronic filing policies. SB 38 has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for review.
The progress of these bills can be tracked at the links below.
Another issue that will affect every person in this state concerns the delivery of healthcare. In regard to Medicaid changes, for example, there have already been talks about modeling Georgia’s legislation on Indiana’s waiver model, which includes provisions such as a health savings accounts and work requirements. Though no bills have been dropped yet, some will most likely be announced within the next few weeks by the Senator from Savannah, Dr. Ben Watson, who chairs the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
To obtain a waiver, however, the process may require Georgia to revisit its Certificate of Need (CON) law. This is an issue we have visited time and time again. There are reasonable arguments for and against CON laws. Some argue that obtaining a certificate of need prior to installing or establishing new and expensive medical equipment or procedures reduces duplication of services, ensures higher safety standards, and prevents stand-alone, for-profit clinics from siphoning off paying patients from non-profit hospitals that, by law, must serve everyone. Others argue that CON laws prevent competition from emerging in areas that have artificially high prices for health care services.
The underlying economics of CON laws are complicated because we are not dealing with a totally free marketplace. Non-profit hospitals must provide care. For profits health care facilities can turn away patients. Perhaps even the size of a community and the economic viability of its local non-profit hospital have a bearing on whether CON laws are harmful or beneficial to patient services and out-of-pocket costs. In fact, this may be one of those situations where one solution may not work for the entire state, and we have to think regionally. No doubt, the debate will be long and rigorous, but the bottom line is to increase access to health care and keep costs contained as much as possible without creating additional tax burdens.
I encourage you to reach out to my office to tell me what you think. These are your taxpayer dollars, and this is your senate seat, so I value your opinion the most.