Monday, January 11th was an exciting day on Capitol Hill as legislators from across the state made their way to Atlanta to convene the 153rd meeting of the Georgia General Assembly. Each legislative session holds 40 days. During that time period, we will be discussing crucial issues as we work together to move our great state forward. As we settle back into “session mode”, I am excited for the days ahead, preparing thoughtful and sound policy that will help our Georgia citizens.
In Loving Memory- Georgia Southern Nursing Students
On Monday, January 11th, we took a moment to pause and memorialize the tragic loss of five Georgia Southern nursing students who lost their lives in a car accident last April. The families of each student received engraved holograms of their late daughters, a memorial candle and a treasure box filled with personal notes from members of the General Assembly’s Women’s Caucus. May we always remember to live each day as if it is our last and be grateful for the time we have together in this life.
State of the State
On Wednesday, January 13th Gov. Deal delivered his annual State of the State address which highlighted Georgia's progress over the last year while discussing his agenda for the new. Gov. Deal noted that Georgia’s economy is back on track and continues to grow. As a result of removing the sales tax on energy manufacturing, the industry has produced 22,000 new manufacturing jobs, representing over $900 million in added wages for Georgia families. Governor Deal Also highlighted strides that we have made in technical education, making Georgia more desirable for companies that are searching for a qualified workforce. Education reform, healthcare costs, criminal justice reform and a pay raise for state employees are all issues that Governor Deal plans to focus on over the next couple of years.
The debate of how to best service the educational needs of our students continues as we begin to work on suggestions brought forth by the Education Reform Commission. During the State of the State, Governor Deal announced that recommendations from the committee would not be implemented until 2017. That gives us ample opportunity to vet the final report, gain input and address questions and concerns from our education community. I am pleased to report that the state will allocate an additional $300 million towards K-12 education this year. While the General Assembly has made improvements where education is concerned, there is still much work to be done.
Work on our states infrastructure continues as we make strides to improve Georgia’s transportation system. Now that Georgia is the 8th most populated state in the nation, adequate transportation, and maintaining our roadways and bridges, is necessary for citizen safety and Georgia’s economic development. The Department of Transportation has projects scheduled across the state in an attempt to relieve our congested and worn highways. Over the next 18 months we will see over 2,500 miles in roadway resurfacing, the replacement of 118 bridges, the widening of 36 roadways, hundreds of safety projects and a 20% increase in local government grants. Citizens can keep track of transportation projects around the state by visiting www.GAroads.org.
In the coming weeks, I will have a number of Committee meetings to attend. Committees serve a vital role in the legislative process of our state government. Once a bill is drafted and officially filed, the bill is assigned to a committee. The committee will carefully review the bill and determine whether it’s a good, clear bill. If it’s passed out of committee, it will then go to the Rules Committee, which decides whether the bill will receive a vote from the full House. If you are interested in watching a committee meeting in progress, you can do so at the Georgia General Assembly website.
Traditionally, the General Assembly takes the 2nd week during session to work on the state budget. “Budget Week” is extremely important as the only thing that the General Assembly is required to do by law is pass a balanced budget. In the coming days, I will be working with other members of the Appropriations Committee as we decide where state funds should be allocated. I will keep you informed on funding and projects that will take place in our region as we move through the budget process. Interested in learning more about how our state budget process works? Appropriations Chairman, Terry England presents "The Budget Games"- your guide to navigating the state budget!
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) will not be considered until after Crossover because Senate bills are not heard by the House until then. However the Pastor Protection act will move forward because it is a house bill.
As we make our way through the legislative session, I will continue to update you on all that is happening Under the Gold Dome. Thank you for your continued support and encouragement. It is humbling to know that you have entrusted me with the responsibility to protect and serve our district. It is a responsibility that I do not take lightly or for granted. Representation for all is what our great nation was founded on and I promise that your voice will be heard. If you need anything at all, please feel free to contact my Capitol office anytime!
Representative of the 160th
Georgia House of Representatives
I had the pleasure of introducing our "Doctor of the Day" from the 160th House District on Wednesday, January 13th. Dr. Stanley Shin is a practicing Cardiologist, also specializing in Nuclear Cardiology.