Speaker David Ralston has assigned House Committee positions and chairmanships for the 2021-22 Session. I am proud that my good friend, Bill Hitchens, was appointed as the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee that handles Public Safety. Ron Stephens will continue to be the Chairman of the Economic Development & Tourism Committee. Jan Tankersley will be the Chairman of Intergovernmental Coordination, and Butch Parrish will Chair the Health Subcommittee on Appropriations. I am excited to continue my service on the Agriculture & Consumer Affairs; Appropriations; Economic Development & Tourism; Ethics; Game, Fish & Parks; Rules; and Transportation Committees.
Speaker Ralston also announced that the House would have a new committee this year: the Special Committee on Election Integrity. Representative Barry Fleming, a highly-skilled lawyer representing the Augusta-area, is the Chairman of this new committee.
The committee has been tasked with keeping elections open and accessible to all registered voters and ensuring proper security and oversight. As we move forward in this Session, I hope you will all reach out and share your thoughts and concerns as we move forward to renewed confidence in our voting process. I have set up a special email account to receive your comments and thoughts: firstname.lastname@example.org. Once I receive your message, I will forward them to Chairman Fleming so that all voices are heard during this important process.
Last week, my colleagues and I participated in joint budget hearings with the Senate Appropriations Committee. We heard from a variety of agency directors and department heads who shared with us their budgetary needs.
We also heard from the state’s fiscal economist, Jeffrey Dorfman, who provided us with an update on our economic forecast. Dr. Dorfman shared his belief that Georgia business owners have done a “tremendous job” finding ways to keep their businesses safely operating during 2020. Our economy is currently operating at 89% of the capacity it was in early March 2020.
Our net tax collections in Georgia were up 7.7% in December 2020 when compared with December 2019. Our Fiscal-year-to-date collections are up 6.1%.
Most of the job losses caused by COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 were recovered by November 2020. We had 4.6 million employees before the pandemic’s effects were felt strongly in Georgia and 4.5 million in November of 2020, Dr. Dorfman told us. As we move forward with vaccinating Georgians, our economy will continue to rebound.
As we engage in the 2021 Session, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), email, or engage on Facebook. If you would like to receive email updates, please visit my website to sign up for my newsletter or email me.
Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly where he serves as the House majority leader.