In a year that did not see massive reforms in education, the Legislature reacted to what members had been hearing in sessions all around the state: "Do something about testing, and a raise is overdue." A couple of pieces of legislation that addressed parents' and teachers' concerns over testing made some changes but did not completely reform the frequency nor content of school testing. Funding continued to reduce the austerity cut and focused on new technology for schools.
We all are much poorer, as a community, with the loss of a truly blessed lady who went to her reward last week. The good that she was doing, and had been doing for years, for those with physical needs and spiritual needs, will need many to fill her space.
In the Georgia House of Representatives, one of my priorities has been to improve access to healthcare for all Georgians, particularly those who live in rural areas. This session, we passed legislation that will increase access to healthcare in innovative and fiscally conservative ways without increasing taxes or expanding the size of government. I was proud to support each of these measures:
A couple of weeks ago, I was highly critical of the efforts of proponents of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and particularly of State Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus). The senator did a smart thing: He reached out and asked for the opportunity to explain his position directly to you. After the cuffing he took, I figured I owed him that. Here is what he had to say:
Given the recent terrorist attacks in Brussels, Paris, San Bernardino and Chattanooga, I wanted to focus this week's article on what we in the state legislature have done recently to protect Georgians from terrorism.
As I reflect on the 2016 legislative session, I first want to extend my appreciation for your support and your valuable input as I carefully considered how to best represent our district with each vote. Several pieces of legislation were passed that will have a great impact on our community and ultimately make our lives a little better.
April 13, 2016|
By state Rep. Bill Hitchens
Job creation continued to be a top issue in the 2016 General Assembly with a number of pieces of legislation passed which focus on spurring job creation. In the fiscal year 2017 general budget, there were some strong initiatives which should continue making Georgia "the best state to do business in America."
Even the most casual reader of this space knows that I am bullish on public education. But there is one school system in Georgia that I haven't talked about much even though it is near and dear to my heart. It is the Georgia Preparatory Academy, the state's 181st school district and a part of the Department of Juvenile Justice, on whose board I have had the pleasure to serve for the past several years.
This session was a good one for the future of agriculture. With the problems facing the agricultural community, declining farm income, commodity prices and other issues… policy and research take on a new importance. So this week, we will look at legislation that affects agriculture and how the state budget will assist long-term agricultural success.