To our readers: State Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) will be reporting each week during the Legislative session. The session began Jan. 9 and is expected to last until the latter days of March.
Day 6 (Monday, Jan. 23): Although we were not in session last week, as a member of the Appropriations committee I was at the Capitol most of the week for budget hearings. We began on Tuesday of last week with the governor presenting an outline of both his amended FY12 as well as FY13 budgets. For the remainder of Tuesday, all of Wednesday and Thursday morning, we reviewed each departments proposals and studied the budget in detail.
After a long weekend, we’re back in session today. Today is Mayor’s Day at the Capitol sponsored by the Georgia Municipal Association, and we welcome mayors and city councilmen from around the state to Atlanta. After joining this fine group of local leaders for a breakfast featuring Gov. Nathan Deal, we go into session at 10 a.m. and get right to work by debating two bills.
HB46, the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act, will streamline discovery in cases involving out of state decisions by allowing depositions and discovery taken in other states to be admissible in Georgia courts. While HB46 passes easily, SB203, a bill that was passed by the Senate last year but had changes made by the House, is disagreed to by the Senate today. The bill will now go back to the House where they will either accept the bill as is or disagree and have a conference committee appointed to work out the differences between the two chambers.
Our chaplain of the day today is Chaplain Maj. Jeff Struecker, a decorated member of the U.S. Army who was featured in the book and movie “Black Hawk Down.”
Later in the day, I participate in the Right to Life rally on the Capitol steps and we enjoy a visit with friends from Effingham County as today is “Effingham Day at the Capitol.”
Day 7 (Tuesday, Jan. 24): While we didn’t have any action items on the calendar today during session, we had quite a number of groups that we honored, including the Class AA state champion Burke County Bears football team.
Most of my day is taken up by committee meetings, including a Higher Education Committee meeting where we hear presentations from Dr. Lamar Veatch with the Public Libraries and Chancellor Hank Huckaby and Technical School Commissioner Ron Jackson, who make a presentation on the Complete College Georgia Plan. This innovative and much needed plan creates new forms of collaboration and accountability between the University System and Technical Colleges in our state to help increase the number of students in Georgia who complete college.
Day 8 (Wednesday, Jan. 25): Today is a very busy day and I start with a meeting with representatives from The Living Vine, a Christian maternity home in Savannah that does outstanding work in our community. As our state faces continued budget constraints, we will be depending on religious groups such as this fine organization to provide services to our citizens.
Once in session, we recognize sheriffs from across our state who are at the Capitol today before we join the House for the State of the Judiciary address given by Chief Justice Carol Hunstein.
After meeting with the Community Bankers Association members, the afternoon is filled with committee meetings, including a Health and Human Services, Ethics and Higher Education meeting.
The Higher Education meeting is a joint meeting with the House committee members and we hear a presentation from the Georgia Student Finance Commission updating us on the HOPE scholarship. The HOPE scholarship is the finest merit-based program in the nation, and we are committed to helping sustain its success in the future.
Day 9 (Thursday, Jan. 26): Today is Savannah-Chatham Day at the Capitol and it is a welcome site to see so many friends from home. We begin the day with a meeting of the Chatham County legislative delegation where we are joined by Mayor Edna Jackson and members of the Savannah City Council to review their legislative agenda for the year. Also this morning I have the honor of speaking to the Georgia Alumni Association of Historically Black State Universities. This is a fine group with representatives from Albany State, Fort Valley State, and Savannah State and I am privileged to address the group.
Today is a very special day for me personally as my Chatham County colleague, Sen. Lester Jackson, and I welcome the Class A state football champion Savannah Christian Red Raiders to the Senate. Led by coach Donald Chumley and Upper School principal Ashley Barnwell, we honor this outstanding group of young men and have our picture taken with them and Gov. Nathan Deal. We are very, very proud of this fine group.
The afternoon is filled with meetings with different groups and, of course, the traditional meeting with Savannah-Chatham leaders that is moderated by former state representative and current WTOC news anchor, Sonny Dixon. Later that evening the “event of the year” the annual Savannah-Chatham seafood fest is held at the Depot. What a great event and what a wonderful asset for us as legislators representing this area to have.
Sen. Buddy Carter can be reached at Coverdell Legislative Office Building (CLOB) Room 301-A, Atlanta, GA, 30334. His Capitol office number is (404) 656-5109.