Lawmakers Commended for Helpful Legislation

Thomasville Times-Enterprise

We give state lawmakers kudos for taking specific steps to improve the lives of Georgia residents.

Helping women in the battle against breast cancer is a good example of government being proactive and being part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

State Rep. Sharon Cooper, a Republican from Marietta who chairs the House Health and Human Services Committee, sponsored a simple, common sense measure that requires health practitioners to inform women with dense breast tissue that it can be more difficult to detect cancer through a mammogram and additional tests may be needed.

Margie's Law also requires health-care providers to notify these patients that dense breast tissue may also increase their risk for developing breast cancer.

So, why did government need to get involved in health care at this level? The answer is simple: Because enough was not being done to help women get early detection of breast cancer. Early detection is crucial for good outcomes, for saving lives.

Because some women have dense breast tissues ordinary mammograms often do not detect the cancers. Being recommended for a MRI can make all difference.

With the legislation, Georgia joins more than three dozen states that require women be informed if they have dense breasts, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is in the process of setting a minimum standard for such notification nationwide. It would be the first update of federal mammography regulations in two decades.

The state is also clamping down on slum lords, and it is about time.

In the past, renters have not reported unsanitary and unsafe living conditions because of fears they would be evicted and not have a place to live.

A new law bans landlords from retaliating against residents who seek repairs, file a complaint with local code enforcement or join a tenant organization.

Specifically, the landlord would be penalized for responding with an eviction, a rent increase or other actions meant as a rebuke. Most of the country already has a similar law on the books.

Now Georgia is getting with the program and taking care of some of the state's least advantaged residents.

Some people might think the law goes too far and amounts to government interference in private business.

We think lawmakers did the right thing.

Another piece of forward-thinking legislation will require law-enforcement agencies to hang on to DNA evidence for a longer period of time.

Law-enforcement agencies will soon be required to save evidence collected from sexual assaults for as long as 50 years. That is about 40 years longer than they are required to keep it now.

Under a new law that takes effect July 1, hair samples, fluids and other biological material gathered through what's known as a rape kit will be saved for 30 years from the date of an arrest or seven years after a completed sentence, depending on which comes later. If there is no arrest, the evidence will be kept for the 50-year period.

As DNA databases grow, these types of evidence can be the difference between solving a case and sending a dangerous criminal to prison or allowing them to continue to walk the streets and prey on women.

We hold our state lawmakers accountable when they get it wrong.

In these three instances, they got it right, and we gladly commend them.

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