ATLANTA — State lawmakers praised the efforts of the Effingham County delegation, both in the General Assembly and those who traveled to Atlanta for Effingham Day at the Capitol.
The event, sponsored by the Effingham Chamber of Commerce, concluded Tuesday morning after visits with legislators and state officials, including new state transportation planner Todd Long, new director of the Environmental Protection Division Allen Barnes and Economic Development Commissioner Ken Stewart.
“I think it’s always a positive event,” said state Rep. Jon Burns. “It’s about relationships.”
Burns said a current proposal to tax hospitals won’t affect Effingham Hospital, because it is intended to leave critical access hospitals alone. Effingham Hospital is designated as a critical access hospital. Burns said his discussion with Effingham Hospital CEO Norma Jean Morgan revealed she was at ease with the legislation — but he cautioned other rural hospitals might be hurt by the bill, if it passes.
Burns was lauded by state Sen. Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) and state Rep. Jan Jones (R-Milton). Jones was selected as the speaker pro tem of the state House, the highest office held by any woman in the history of the General Assembly. She chose Burns to nominate her for the position.
“I asked Jon to nominate me because he’s so well respected,” she said. “You want someone with integrity.”
Burns, in turn, said Jones was “the right person for the right job at the right time.” He also lauded the choice of David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) as speaker. Ralston replaces the controversial Glenn Richardson, who stepped down from the post and gave up his seat in the House.
“One of the bright, positive things in the General Assembly this year is the election of David Ralston as our speaker,” Burns said. “He’s as fine a man as you’re going to find. He has integrity, he has a lot of intelligence and I think he’s going to do an outstanding job. I think we have the right man in the right position.”
Jones also welcomed Ann Purcell back to the House, where she served for more than a dozen years. Purcell won a special election to fill the seat of Buddy Carter, who won a special election to fill the unexpired term of former state Sen. Eric Johnson. Carter’s 1st District seat no longer includes part of Effingham, but he represented a portion of the county for five years.
Among Purcell’s committee assignments are Appropriations, Health and Human Services, Education and Economic Development and Tourism.
“We’re delighted to have Ann back,” Jones said. “She’s so dedicated to her district and it was reflected in her committee assignments. Ann is no freshman. Her committee assignments reflect that.”
Purcell said Hill and Carter — who beat her for the 159th House District seat in 2004 before moving to the Senate — give Effingham powerful allies in the Senate.
“We’ve got the strongest delegation I think we’ve ever had,” Hill said.