If you operate or work for a hospital located in one of Georgia's rural communities, you should be very afraid. There's a strong possibility your hospital will be closing down soon because of financial problems.
Feb. 23 marked the 20th day and halfway point of the 2015 legislative session. Among the bills passed last week was one of the most crucial pieces of legislation of the session, the fiscal year 2016 budget. This year's budget was set by a revenue estimate of $21.7 billion, a 4.5 percent increase from the fiscal year 2015 budget.
We had a very active week with several important pieces of legislation passing the House. The first was the supplemental budget and the second was the Georgia Ports harbor expansion indemnifying bill. Both have been sent to the governor for his signature.
The first 19 days of the General Assembly's 2015 session are over, and we are running at full speed after the slower-paced start due to the inauguration of the governor and the welcoming of freshman legislators to the House of Representatives. Every two years, the House reorganizes itself as new members come in and others retire. And due to that reorganization, every bill has to be introduced initially, and then begin the committee process.
It was good to visit with the Leadership Bulloch group in Atlanta this past Thursday. On Saturday in Sylvania, the annual Screven County Eggs and Issues event was held. It is always informative to hear from "home folks" on their perspectives on important issues. I value and welcome your input concerning legislation being considered in the General Assembly.
Georgia agriculture continues to be a critical part of the state's economy. The Legislature provided a number of funding additions to benefit agriculture and forestry in the fiscal year 2016 Budget. In addition, a number of bills were passed which affect agriculture positively.
What time is it, boys and girls? It's time for Answer Man! Time to dip into the ol' mailbag and see what is on your mind and show you how little is on ours. While we can't guarantee total and complete accuracy in our answers, it is Answer Man's opinion that this won't matter because if you knew the answer, you probably wouldn't have asked the question in the first place.
Many older Georgians recall our economic leadership in what were called the "Four Ps" - peanuts, poultry, pine trees and pecans. These were solid building blocks of the Georgia economy decades ago, and we can be proud that Georgia still leads in these areas.
The activity surrounding each legislative session is always a combination of fast action with periods of slow-moving, tedious meetings as legislation is researched, deliberated and reconciled before the actual vote. This session was no different and each day was used to the fullest as we set our sights on tackling some tough issues for the betterment of our state. The following is a summary of some of the major accomplishments and most significant legislation passed this session.
The 2015 legislative session has concluded and much sound legislation was researched, deliberated and passed for the betterment of our state. I will highlight the ones that most significantly affect the livelihood of Georgia families.
As expected, transportation funding and the governor's proposal to address persistently failing public schools dominated Georgia's legislative session. The measures passed, yet several opportunities to address critical economic issues were missed.
Between investment in the Division of Family and Children Services and new legislation protecting children, the 2015 General Assembly demonstrated its commitment to children, their protection and promotion of their welfare. This column brings together the funding initiatives and the legislation that will protect children and insure their chances of success.
Sometimes we forget that there are a lot of good people on this earth doing good things. I was reminded of that by my friend, Jack Cookston, who recently had some medical issues that required him to cart around an oxygen tank wherever he went. (Happily, his health has improved and the oxygen tank is history.)
Another excellent month, 9 percent growth in March, pushed Georgia to a year-to-date 6.1 percent increase, which leads virtually every other state in the South and puts the state neck-and-neck with Texas. Here are March's numbers: