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Lawmakers get back to work with start of General Assembly
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We started the 2012 legislative session Jan. 9 on the heels of positive news. The U.S. Department of Justice approved three new district maps on Dec. 23, 2011. The need for new district maps came after the 2010 Census, which showed that Georgia’s population has increased by about 1.5 million people in the last 10 years.

This increase provided us with a new congressional district and the responsibility of drawing new congressional, state Senate and state House district maps that are fair and representative of the most up-to-date population data. In August 2011, we met for a special session to fulfill this responsibility, and in just three weeks we managed to pass maps that received federal approval on the first submission, a major accomplishment that has never been achieved in the history of Georgia since the implementation of the Voting Rights Act. Now that this task is behind us, we can tackle the issues that Georgians care most about, like job creation, and tax reform.

On Tuesday, Gov. Nathan Deal gave his annual State of the State Address before a joint session of the Georgia General Assembly.  During this address, our governor focused on his legislative priorities for the upcoming session, as well as a brief overview of spending priorities.  Highlights of Gov. Deal’s second State of State Address included a focus on important key areas such as education, job growth, transportation and making our state more competitive and business friendly.

On Wednesday, the governor released his proposed budget recommendations for the amended 2012 and the fiscal year 2013 budgets.  To name a few recommendations which were highlighted in Gov. Deal’s State of the State Address, he suggested: the restoration of the pre-K school year by 10 days, additional funding for school nurses, additional funding for K-12 enrollment growth, salary increases for teachers based on training and experience, and additional funding for OneGeorgia to increase economic development in rural areas.

The governor’s budget proposal is the outline that the General Assembly uses to compile their own respective budgets. We are optimistic that our economy will continue to improve and we will be able to adequately fund essential programs.

While we were busy this first week of session, it was an honor to pause to remember the life of Georgia legend Larry Munson.

Sports fans throughout the country were saddened to hear of the passing of the longtime Georgia Bulldogs football announcer shortly after UGA clinched the SEC East championship. As a tribute to his service to the state, we adopted House Resolution 1104 and presented it to Munson’s son.  Larry Munson was truly a great Georgian and he will always be remembered for his “sugar falling out of the sky” call and many others.

The General Assembly will not be in session this week as the House and Senate hold joint budget hearings during which each state agency presents its budget and starts the legislative budget process. The General Assembly will continue our work at the state Capitol on Jan. 23 for the sixth legislative day of session.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, ideas, thoughts or concerns. It is both an honor and privilege to continue serving you in the Georgia General Assembly. 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