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Ready for takeoff with the Mars

Ready for takeoff with the Mars

The grand re-opening of the Mars Theatre is just a week away, and it is a highly-anticipated event.

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Voting is easier than you think

One of my main goals as Georgia’s Secretary of State has been to increase efficiencies and decrease costs by using technology. Of all of the innovations that the Office has made over the years, I could not be more proud of the state’s ability to offer online voter registration and the My Voter Page mobile app.  These tools truly accomplish both goals.

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Lawmakers should be allowed to do their jobs

Gov. Nathan Deal currently is reviewing the hundreds of bills passed during this year’s General Assembly session. He presumably will have everything signed or vetoed by April 30.

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Remember what Easter is about

I wish I had been there. In Jerusalem. With Jesus.

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Positive trends for state revenues

March is one of the top months for income tax refunds, so revenues can be affected.  But this March, state revenues showed very positive growth coming in at an overall increase of 12.3 percent, increasing $144.4 million on revenues of $1.3 billion. Individual income taxes were up 13 percent as refunds for the month were essentially flat.  The state actually issued more in individual income tax refunds, $527 million, than the net increase in individual income taxes for the month, $477.4 million, but only slightly more, 0.6 percent, than March 2013.

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Thinking outside the Obamacare box

Health care costs threaten to bankrupt our country. Debates over Medicaid expansion, the Medicare “doc fix,” the state of Georgia’s health plan, coverage of autism and so many other health care issues merely shift these costs from one party to another.

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What starts out small may end up big

In the Georgia State Legislature, even a relatively simple bill can sometimes turn into one of the most important pieces of legislation that is considered.

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Deal’s wounds are self-inflicted

Within minutes after a Fulton County jury returned a devastating verdict against the state ethics commission last week, Gov. Nathan Deal’s aides were already trying to put their own spin on the story.

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Make stopping child abuse, neglect a priority

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month in Georgia, as proclaimed by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. Child abuse is a subject I don’t like to think about, let alone write about, and you would probably just as soon not hear about. But it is there and we need to acknowledge it and demand some solutions.

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Agriculture gains in budget

Both in legislation passed and in appropriations from the fiscal year 2014 amended and FY15 general budgets, agriculture in Georgia was strengthened by the 2014 General Assembly.

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Why Georgia needs medical cannabis

When the 2014 General Assembly session began 10 short weeks ago, the odds of a medical cannabis bill passing this year would have been longer than having a perfect March Madness bracket in Vegas, because no one was crazy enough to take that bet.

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GOP Senate race may be shaking out

For the past few months, the Senate Republican primary has looked like a cage match between five politicians biting and gouging to see who can move most sharply to the far right edge of the ring.

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Hard work irking liberals and conservatives

Even by my impossibly high standards, this has been a good week. It began with a whack upside the head from a reader in South Georgia after I opined that those who want to change the way we teach our children in public schools ought to have their kids in public schools. I was referring to the efforts led by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) to overturn the Common Core curriculum in the recent legislative session.

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Bills await governor’s action

At the end of the General Assembly, everyone always goes back and gets a grip on legislation that passed and how the provisions of bills evolved in the final hectic days of the session. However, the governor is doing the same thing but for different reasons. His office is reviewing bills passed for conflicts, constitutionality, and in some cases, to correct errors.

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Budget bolsters local education

On Thursday, March 20, the 2014 legislative session came to an end when the House and Senate completed the 40th and final legislative day. There were several key legislative actions that I want to bring to your attention.

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Moving to prevent abortion coverage under ACA

The final days of the Georgia General Assembly concluded this week and much was accomplished this legislative session. There was a flurry of activity as both the House and Senate carefully considered and passed much legislation that will now go before Governor Deal for his consideration.

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Service in Senate has been rewarding

Day 39 (Tuesday, March 18): Day 39 of the legislative session can be as busy, if not busier, than day 40. Proof of this is the fact that we have 83 bills on the calendar today.

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Lawmakers embark on their real business — getting re-elected

The week before Georgia legislators finished their session, Sen. Steve Thompson (D-Marietta) made a floor speech that put it all in perspective.

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Columnist commandos get Crimea scoop

Since the policy of the federal government seems to be to snoop on the conversations of private citizens, I thought it would be appropriate if we turned the tables on them. So, I authorized my columnist commandos to infiltrate the White House disguised as Teleprompters and get the real scoop on the latest developments in Ukraine.

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Budget passage highlights session

The 2014 General Assembly session ended with the passage of a $20.8 billion budget to run the state for the next year and featured the first sizable increase in K-12 education spending in more than six years.

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Fast session nears its busy end

State Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is reporting each week during the legislative session. The session began Jan. 13 and ended Thursday.

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State tries to tackle rising Alzheimer’s patient rolls

Week nine of the session brought many pieces of Senate legislation to House committees for our review. In that week, we focused on reviewing, debating, and voting upon quite a few Senate bills that were passed out of committee and onto Rules and ultimately the House floor for a vote.

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Enabling courts a chance to give veterans proper treatment

As many of you are aware, I served in the Marine Corps and was in Vietnam from April 1966 until May 1967. Including my Marine and Coast Guard active and reserve service, I was in the military for almost 30 years prior to retiring.

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Republican lawmakers acting like a bunch of liberals

The Georgia General Assembly has rightly earned a reputation for being one of America’s most conservative legislative bodies.

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Celebrating the life of a great journalist

I was at the sausage-making plant last week, better known as the Georgia General Assembly. I was there for a good cause. The state Senate was honoring Dick Pettys, one of the finest journalists to walk through the doors of the state Capitol, and I was asked to be a part of that special day.

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Session quickly coming to a close

The General Assembly ended the week on legislative day 38, with two days left in this year’s session, which will wrap up with day 40 Thursday. The fiscal year 2015 budget is currently in a Senate/House conference committee to settle differences.

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Rush to the end includes budget work

State Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is reporting each week during the legislative session. The session began Jan. 13.

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State sticks to its support of port deepening project

March 3 marked the 30th legislative day of the 2014 session. Any bill that has not been passed by either the House or Senate by the end of this crossover day has little chance of becoming law this year.

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Medical marijuana bill for children suffering from seizures passes

The 30th day of the legislation session was considered a victorious one for Georgia families who found a viable solution in medical marijuana for their children who suffer from multiple seizure disorder. These families fought hard for the passage of HB 885, which has become known as “Haleigh’s Hope Act,” named for a young girl who suffers from seizures and whose mother has championed the cause of the benefits of medical cannabis.

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Georgia sets the table for this year’s elections

Georgia’s political scorecard for 2014 was filled out last week as hundreds of hopeful candidates dropped by the capitol to fill out the paperwork that places their names on the May 20 primary election ballot.

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Fixing a problem that doesn’t exist

The scene: I-16 near Dublin. WAAANGH! REEP! REEP! REEP!

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Senate passes FY15 budget

The Senate passed the fiscal year 2015 general budget on Thursday, totaling $20.8 billion. The budget is built on approximately 4.4 percent revenue growth over the actual FY 2014 amended budget. Lottery proceeds are projected to be $947.9 million, and $1 billion is projected from motor fuel taxes.

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State looks to cap income tax

State Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is reporting each week during the legislative session. The session began Jan. 13.

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AP courses a success in Georgia

I have been serving in the Georgia House of Representatives for a decade. As the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, I clearly recognize the financial challenges of bringing economic vitality to all parts of our state. And as a member of the House Education Committee, I work closely with our schools to put our students on the path to college and careers.

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Action on bills heats up to beat Crossover Day deadline

The seventh week of the 2014 legislative session began Monday, Feb. 24, with “Crossover Day” looming a week away. Crossover Day is the deadline in which a piece of legislation must pass at least one of the General Assembly’s two chambers or be lost for this year’s consideration.

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‘Slow poke’ bill flies through in time for Crossover Day

Last week was a very busy one as legislative day 30, more commonly known as “Crossover Day,” was nearing. Monday was Crossover Day, and it is the deadline in which a piece of legislation must pass at least one of the General Assembly’s two chambers or else it is dead for this year’s session.

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Religious protections are already in place

It is getting more and more difficult to exclude people who may look or believe a little differently than you.

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Tippins works to improve Common Core

As predicted in this space a few weeks ago, there is compromise legislation pending in the General Assembly regarding the Common Core curriculum, the controversial program which seeks to establish consistent education standards across the country.

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Crossover Day hits Gold Dome

The Senate was scheduled to complete work on Senate bills on Monday, Crossover Day. The remainder of the session’s 10 legislative days will be spent considering House bills, amendments to Senate bills made by the House, and considering the fiscal year 2015 general budget.

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Senate has to get back to work on St. Patrick’s Day sales bill

State Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is reporting each week during the legislative session. The session began Jan. 13 and is expected to last until the first of March.

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Education gets lion’s share of budget

The return of spring-like weather allowed state legislators to reconvene at our state’s Capitol for a productive week of considering some important legislation. Primarily, the state’s budget was carefully considered under House Bill 744. This is a $20.8 billion state budget plan for fiscal year 2015 beginning July 1, 2014. Of that budget, 54.1 percent of state revenues are designated for education.

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State budget could cut out teacher furloughs

Monday, Feb. 17, marked the sixth week of the 2014 legislative session and a very important one. We passed the fiscal year 2015 budget, as well as many other significant pieces of legislation.

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House leaders turn on one of their own

It was a spectacle you seldom see during a legislative session.

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Easing sex offender restrictions a bad joke

The Cherokee County Republican Party has a blurb on its website about Rep. Sam Moore, who won the 22nd District house seat earlier this month following the death of veteran lawmaker Calvin Hill. Among other tidbits about Moore are his hobbies, including this: “Playing jokes … watch out. You have been warned!”

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Floor activity picks up in session

The 2014 session moved into the second half, and activity on the floor increased. At the same time Senate and House leaders considered differences in the fiscal year 2014 amended budgets passed by both houses, and the Senate began work in earnest on the general budget for FY15. The last 14 or so days of this session are certain to be active with some of the more controversial legislation being considered.

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Already past the halfway point

State Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) will be reporting each week during the legislative session. The session began Jan. 13 and is expected to last until the first of March.

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Dealing with another winter storm

As you undoubtedly have heard, state business was halted again last week due to Winter Storm Pax that barreled its way through the South and eventually the Northeast. Because of the severe weather threat and the lessons learned two weeks ago from the ice and snow that crippled Atlanta, state officials closed government offices, which allowed the legislative session to meet only on Monday and part of Tuesday.

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A good man is called home by the Lord

Yes, a good man has gone home. The community of Effingham and, more particularly the First Baptist Church of Springfield, has sustained a shock. Jeffrey Rollins, their pastor, was killed in a single-vehicle accident late Saturday afternoon.

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Session hits the halfway point as Pax hits the capital

Feb. 10 marked the 20th day and half-way point of the 2014 legislative session. We quickly got to work, voting on legislation and reviewing bills in committee.

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Watch what they do, not what they say

When you’re writing about people in politics, you should pay closer attention to what they do than to what they say.

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