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Jeffares sponsors hunting bill

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State Sen. Rick Jeffares, R-Locust Grove

COVINGTON -- State Sen. Rick Jeffares, R-Locust Grove, is sponsoring legislation allowing state officials to grant special hunting privileges to anyone age 21 or younger with a terminal illness.

Jeffares represents the 17th Senate District, including Newton County and portions of Rockdale, Henry, Walton and Spalding counties.

Senate Bill 309, or Taylor's Law, passed the Georgia State Senate Wednesday by a vote of 53 to 1.

The bill was inspired by a Locust Grove teen, Taylor Gramling, who died of leukemia in November at age 18. Gramling wished to go deer hunting before she died, but state law stood in her way until comedian Jeff Foxworthy, a member of the Georgia Natural Resources Foundation, stepped in. Foxworthy, who has a farm that holds a special out-of-season deer hunting permit, allowed Gramling to hunt on his land. She killed a deer and died six weeks later. Jeffares' bill was named in her memory. It passed with her friends and family watching in the gallery.

"I am pleased with the overwhelming support that SB 309 received in the Senate today," said Jeffares. "This legislation will provide young people like Taylor, who are diagnosed with terminal illnesses, a chance to live out their dreams and fulfill their last wishes."

The bill would authorize the state's natural resources commissioner to issue special hunting permits for big game or alligators to anyone under 21 with a life expectancy of a year or less due to a terminal illness.

The legislation would waive legal weapons requirements, antler restrictions, quota limitations or hunter education requirements, and would allow the commissioner to impose any terms necessary to facilitate the permit. Anyone receiving the special permit would have to hunt under the supervision of an adult hunter.

The authorization would be good for one hunting season.

The bill now heads to the House for its consideration.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.