As we began the 2013 legislative session under the Gold Dome in the Georgia General Assembly on Monday, my focus is on the priorities for the state of Georgia and, in particular, for our district. Many different items and topics will be on the agenda for discussion as we gavel in the new session, including a balanced budget for Georgia, school safety, gun-related proposals and ethics reform.
Balanced and responsible state budget
In Georgia, as you may know, we are constitutionally required to balance the budget for the state. Every legislative session, the budget is at the top of our priority list. With our economy still recovering, the state budget, like many of our family budgets, faces a revenue shortfall that requires some additional belt tightening.
As more people request assistance and help from state agencies and the services they provide, the cost of providing for those needs is exceeding revenue collections.
Governor Deal has released his budget recommendations, which include spending cuts from state agencies and Medicaid programs. Just as families all across our state develop a family budget and live within their means, the state of Georgia has, does, and will continue to do the same.
Citizens across our state shared in the pain felt by other families, as children and adults were the victims of the tragic school shootings in Connecticut almost a month ago. School safety has been a concern for many, and with this tragedy, has become a top priority for parents, teachers, and school systems around the state and the nation. The focus will be on how to best improve and ensure the safety of our children in Georgia schools.
Many school systems have already taken preparatory measures to ensure that administrators and teachers have a plan should an emergency take place. Some schools have also already added armed officers on school property.
Discussion of Georgia gun laws
Along with the discussion of school safety, the focus has also led to current gun laws. Some legislators want to expand our gun laws and others want to restrict them. Expect this session to include gun-related proposals. Know this, I firmly support our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms and will fight to protect the rights of gun owners in our district and all around our state.
Expect some discussions and changes this session to our ethics laws in Georgia. Our goal is transparency within all levels of government and among all elected officials. Some of the proposals so far include a cap on lobbyist gifts of $100, a total ban on lobbyist gifts to elected officials, and expanding who is required to register as a lobbyist. A person must register as a lobbyist in Georgia if they seek to promote or oppose the passage of any legislation, regulation or ordinance and spend more than 10 percent of their monthly working hours doing so, or if $1,000 or more per calendar year is spent in an attempt to influence.
During the next several months, please look for my weekly legislative update in the paper. Please contact me with your ideas and opinions or if I can be of service to you in any way. It is your input and common sense ideas that develop into the best legislation and potentially become the laws of our state.
If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-5099 or write to me at: State Rep. Jon Burns, 18 Capitol Square, 228 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.