Georgia's elected leaders agree the most pressing issue right now is the state's transportation system.
The state of Georgia's Juvenile Justice System is going to the dogs. And that's a good thing.
Governor Deal's fiscal year 2015 amended and FY16 general budget proposals were reviewed during a week of budget hearings.
The second week of the General Assembly is traditionally reserved for the Appropriations committee to receive the governor's budget. We review his recommendations for funding the state's programs for the 2016 fiscal year which begins July 1.
The activity in the second week of the Georgia General Assembly was limited to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees meeting in joint conference to receive the governor's $21.8 billion budget request.
Gov. Nathan Deal's office released his state budget for fiscal year 2016 late last week, and if you work your way through the numbers in the document you will see a significant turning point in recent state history.
My fellow Georgians: In order to keep my national certification as a modest and much-beloved columnist, it is required that I submit to you at the first of every year my State of the Column message. (Yay! Clap! Clap! Clap!) I do that gladly today.
As you know, during the year, this column examines mostly budget-related issues as well as other governmental areas along with occasional topics. During the General Assembly, this format changes and becomes the sharing with readers what is going on at the Legislature and what actions the body takes. It is our way of relating information and of course to elicit your input and comment.
I am honored and humbled to represent you again in the Georgia House of Representatives. As with the start of each new General Assembly, we took the oath of office on Jan. 12. The 180 members, some newly elected, sat down to begin the state's business.
As the 2015 General Assembly was gaveled into session, there was much activity as we took the oath of office, elected our leadership, and then proceeded to watch the inauguration of Gov. Nathan Deal and the slate of state officers as they were sworn in.
In politics, you must take advantage of windows of opportunity. Sometimes good ideas are sidetracked by events, a bad economy or even personality conflicts among political leaders. Given the risk of delaying decisions, Georgia needs to address its transportation shortfall quickly and practically.
When Jody Hice and Barry Loudermilk went to Washington last week, they left Georgia with the adulation of tea party activists who had voted to elect them as the new representatives for the 10th and 11th Congressional Districts.
Allen Peake is a man on a mission. The five-term Republican state representative from Macon is the driving force behind proposed legislation to legalize medical marijuana in Georgia. He may succeed this year after suffering a setback in 2014 when the House and Senate got into a bit of political brinksmanship at the last minute and failed to pass his bill, which had sailed through the House with only four negative votes.
December state revenues came in with a big gain for the month, $158 million, or a 9 percent growth rate on revenues totaling $1.9 billion. This makes December 2014 the highest revenue December in at least five years.
On Monday, the 2015 session of the Georgia General Assembly formed and organized at the State Capitol in Atlanta. I am deeply honored to be able to represent you in the House of Representatives and take this responsibility seriously as I look forward to a productive session.
If you want to meet the person who's the real state school superintendent, it's easy to find his office.
If you are a high school senior hoping to attend the University of Georgia, the oldest state-chartered university in the nation, located in Athens, the Classic City of the South, you have probably heard by now whether or not you have been accepted.
Transportation and budget conference committees highlight the final week as the medical marijuana bill, HB 1, is passed and an agreement on autism.
Those of us who love Georgia football often use coach Mark Richt's phrase "finish the drill," whether we are talking about the game or about other important goals. Usually, getting to the point where you are ready to finish has taken a lot of hard work, involved some tough decisions, and forced you to think about priorities. That is what Georgia's leaders have done throughout the past 10 weeks of this year's legislative session.
I am happy to report that the General Assembly session for 2015 is down to its last two legislative days. We have had a productive session but several important issues remain unresolved. The following are bills passed by the House this week.
The 2015 General Assembly session has just two days left, and we are expected to adjourn sine die on Thursday. Consequently, a flurry of legislation will travel back and forth between the House of Representatives and the Senate. I will be fully ensconced in many of the debates on pending legislation.
Rep. David Stover is a brave man. He may well be one of the gutsiest people serving in the General Assembly.
I suspect my recent silence on the subject of public education in Georgia has been deafening to some of you. I will explain.
The Senate passed its version of the 2016 general budget with only one dissenting vote.
Last Friday was the 30th legislative day for the 2015 Georgia General Assembly. With "crossover day" behind us, we returned to Capitol Hill this week to focus on legislation that has already been passed by the Georgia Senate.
As I left us off last week, we were still in session waiting to conclude day 30 or "crossover day." For the most part this week, we focused on a few Senate bills and some House resolutions. The real work was in the committees as we started to review the Senate bills that crossed over.
I spent last week helping to assess a group of people for a job I couldn't do if my life depended on it. Actually, what they were seeking is not a job; it is a calling. And my life here and in the hereafter depends on how well they do it.
When I first started writing about politics, my conservative friends would preach the gospel of "local control." They believed that local governments did a better job of running things because local officeholders were closer to the people who elected them.
The Legislature begins the last three weeks of the 2015 session having passed "crossover day." Most of the top issues remain to be settled. Transportation, medical marijuana and the 2016 budget will all ultimately be completed by conference committees.
On March 13, we reached day 30 of the 2015 legislative session. This date, which is also known as "crossover day," is the final chance for bills to pass the legislative chamber from which they originated. Listed below is a brief description of several bills that passed the House and are moving forward.