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HOPE Grant changes should help students
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Day 10 (Monday, Feb. 4): After a short weekend break, we’re welcomed back to the Capitol this morning by a sea of green as today is 4-H Day. The mission of 4-H is to assist youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills and forming productive attitudes. The fine young people gathered here today certainly are great examples of this successful program.

Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway) and I are delighted today to welcome the Leadership Liberty group to the Capitol, another great group from back home. At lunch I am honored to join my friends from Glynn County and the Brunswick area as they are here to meet with state officials.

Later in the afternoon, after attending the Appropriations Criminal Justice subcommittee hearings, I present legislation to the Ethics committee allowing individual counties to hold non-partisan elections of offices such as county coroner and tax commissioner. While the testimony and discussion at the meeting are enlightening, the bills are tabled until the next meeting.

Day 11 (Tuesday, Feb. 5): I am honored this morning to join House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams (D-Smyrna) in addressing the Gate City Bar Association, one of the oldest law organizations in our state.

As we go into session this morning, we honor a number of groups and I am particularly excited to have the opportunity to recognize the Georgia State Firefighter Association. Today is the 41st Annual Firefighters Recognition Day held at the Capitol as we continue to honor the commitment and sacrifices made by firefighters in our communities on a daily basis. We also recognize Equine Youth Day, Court Appointed Special Advocates, the Medical College of Georgia, and the Blue Key National Honor Society from the University of Georgia.

The afternoon is a tough one as I chair a two-and-a-half-hour meeting of the Appropriations Public Safety subcommittee as the departments present their budgets for the year. Afterwards, we welcome folks from Statesboro and Bulloch County to the Capitol. It’s always good to see people from back home.

Day 12 (Wednesday, Feb. 6): We learn this morning that Dr. Dean Burke from Bainbridge will be joining us in the Senate as he was victorious yesterday in the special election in Southwest Georgia. Sen.-elect Burke will be sworn in next week after the election results are certified by the Secretary of State’s office.

During session today, we have more deserving recognitions as we celebrate Aerospace Recognition Day, Columbus Day, and mark the centennial anniversary of Georgia State University. GSU is the second-largest university in our state, offering educational opportunities to more than 32,000 students. It continues to be a positive catalyst for the renovation of downtown Atlanta. SB 14, establishing a statewide Alzheimer’s and Dementia Task Force to assess the current and future impact of these diseases in our state, is passed today.

Later in the afternoon my good friend, Ann Purcell from Rincon, is elected to the State Transportation board as the representative from the 1st Congressional District.

Day 13 (Thursday, Feb. 7): I present SB 10 and SB 13, both dealing with nursing issues, to the Health and Human Services sub-committee this morning and am successful in getting them passed on to the full committee. We celebrate both Veterinary Medicine Day and Turkish American Day during our session today before convening to the House Chamber for a joint session to hear Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein deliver the State of the Judiciary address. Her speech centers on reforming Georgia’s juvenile justice system and is well received by the legislature.

Later in the afternoon, Gov. Nathan Deal announces that he will be supporting legislation changing the grade-point average required for a technical college student’s HOPE Grant from a 3.0 back to 2.0. The HOPE Grant eligibility was changed in 2011 as part of legislation intended to address the fiscal stability of the program, and since that time technical colleges have witnessed a significant decrease in enrollment. By changing the requirement back to the original 2.0, it is anticipated that enrollment will increase again, boosting the state’s ability to attract and fill high-skilled jobs.

Day 14 (Friday, Feb. 8): Today is John Bulloch Day in the Senate, honoring the longtime Agriculture Committee Chairman by suspending the rules and wearing jeans in the chamber, as was the now-retired senator’s Friday custom. As chairman of the Public Safety committee, I have the honor today of recognizing law enforcement cooperation between the state of Georgia and the country of Georgia. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has selflessly donated time and expertise in assisting the country of Georgia, a part of the Russian nation.

Also, in session today, we elect Greg S. Griffin as the state auditor of Georgia. This important position provides decision-makers such as the legislature with management information on the accountability and stewardship in state and local governments.

Sen. Buddy Carter can be reached at 421-B State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334. His Capitol office number is (404) 656-5109. You can connect with him on Facebook at or follow him on Twitter @Buddy_Carter.