In the legislature, we often utilize study committees to take in-depth looks into issues that impact our state. Previously, I discussed the importance of the House Rural Development Council. This study committee focuses on the challenges of rural Georgia communities and legislative opportunities to support those communities. This year we also passed legislation establishing both House study committees and joint study committees made up of House and Senate members. Speaker Ralston also authorized the creation of two House working groups. I have included links to these committees and working groups below to follow along with their progress if you are interested.
House Resolution 185 reauthorized the House Rural Development Council to continue its important work, studying factors that improve rural communities’ economic outcomes — including education, health care, infrastructure, and existing industries. Chairman Rick Jasperse from Jasper and Chairman Sam Watson from Moultrie will serve as co-chairs of the HRDC.
House Resolution 52 established the House Study Committee on Childhood Lead Exposure. Chairman Katie Dempsey from Rome will chair this committee. Under federal guidelines, a child is considered to have been poisoned by lead when lead in the child’s blood is equal to or greater than five micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. If a child’s lead level is that high, the child should receive treatment for the exposure, reducing its effects.
In Georgia, however, children must be exposed to significantly more lead before a child is considered exposed. Because of the wide gap between Georgia’s standards and federal standards, there may be a large group of children who are not being appropriately diagnosed and treated as having been exposed to lead in Georgia. Chairman Dempsey’s study committee will be studying the effects of lead exposure and making recommendations on how the state can effectively prevent adverse outcomes.
A joint study committee, made up of House and Senate members, was also instituted this year — the Joint Study Committee on Airport Infrastructure & Improvements. The House Co-Chair will be Chairman Rick Jasperse, who also chairs the House Transportation Committee. This joint study committee is charged with creating a comprehensive strategic business plan to develop state-wide infrastructure for airports in Georgia. This committee will also determine the best course of action for funding and policy development for airports across our state to ensure that we will see continued growth and support in this industry. Coordination and efficiency among Georgia’s air service providers and the aviation industry are hugely important as well, and the committee will emphasize this in its work.
Finally, the Speaker authorized the creation of the House Working Group on Rising Costs of Construction Materials. Representative Marcus Wiedower from Athens will chair this committee. This working group will study why the costs of construction materials are increasing so rapidly and whether there is anything that we can do to alleviate the burden on Georgians. I am honored to serve as an ex-officio member of this working group and will support its work in any way that I can.
I hope that you all will follow along with the efforts of these committees and working groups and reach out to them if you have input. Please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail, or participate on Facebook to share your thoughts and concerns. It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly, where he serves as the House majority leader.