The Georgia General Assembly was in session five days last week, pushing forward with the 2013 legislative session. Effingham County Day, Chatham County Day, National Guard Day, and Mayor’s Day were all celebrated in Atlanta last week at our Capitol. I want to thank all of the citizens from our district that traveled to Atlanta and participated in these events.
I had the opportunity on Monday, accompanied by our other state representative from Effingham County, Jon Burns, to welcome the Effingham County citizens to the state Capitol. While we made this announcement together, it was my first official time addressing the House from the “well,” although being at the Capitol and working with legislators is familiar territory.
The annual Mayor’s Day Conference occurred in Atlanta over the weekend and was also recognized Monday at the Capitol. In conjunction with Mayor’s Day, I was invited, along with Senator Albers, Terry Norris, the executive director of the Sheriff’s Association, and Police Chief Terry Sult from Sandy Springs, to participate in a roundtable discussion on public safety issues. This conference encourages municipal leaders, such as mayors, council members and city managers, to have the opportunity to enhance their leadership skills and abilities.
The Legislature also celebrated National Guard Day. My background and career spans 45 years of government service, in both military and state law enforcement. While honoring National Guard Day, House members took a moment of silence to recognize our fallen soldiers, the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while defending our freedoms. Also present and honored were the many family members of these fallen heroes.
Our adjutant general for Georgia, Jim Butterworth, also spoke to the General Assembly in honor of National Guard Day. It is important for us to remember that while we enjoy on a daily basis too many freedoms and opportunities to mention, it is the troops that are still fighting on our behalf that truly deserve our thanks.
On Monday, the House adopted an adjournment resolution, HR 50, setting the upcoming legislative session calendar through the beginning of March 5, and the 29th legislative day. Our state Constitution allows the General Assembly to meet for up to 40 days of session. Senate Bill 24 was necessary to account for a shortfall in our state’s Medicaid program and passed the House on Friday with a vote of 147 to 18. This bill re-authorized a fee placed on hospitals back in 2010 and without the extension of this fee, it was estimated by Governor Deal that Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals would be cut by at least 20 percent and that many rural hospitals would be forced to close.
SB 24 has passed both chambers and it is expected that Governor Deal will sign this legislation into law. Also passed was House Bill 55 and House Bill 57, and both of these bills passed with only one dissenting vote. HB 55 is the result of a Supreme Court decision and would change Georgia’s statue to combat drug trafficking by allowing wiretapping and pin taps across jurisdictional lines, and HB 57 would include additional prohibited chemical compounds used in synthetic marijuana. The numbers of bills debated and voted upon on the House floor will increase significantly now that our legislative calendar is partially set.
The General Assembly returned to the Gold Dome on Monday for the 10th day of the 2013 session. I will keep you apprised of important legislation that affects your families, your freedoms and your pocketbooks.
Working with and alongside the other members of both the House and Senate, your best interests will always remain my first priority. Please let me know if I can ever be of assistance to you or your family. Please feel welcome to write to me at 501 Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg., Atlanta, GA 30334, email me at email@example.com, or call my office at (404) 656-0178.