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Session hits the halfway point as Pax hits the capital
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Feb. 10 marked the 20th day and half-way point of the 2014 legislative session. We quickly got to work, voting on legislation and reviewing bills in committee.

My week was cut short by snow and ice that came with Winter Storm Pax. This storm was especially severe in Screven County, cutting power for several days.  Damage was heavy and widespread. I will continue to make sure state leaders understand the  effects this storm had on our community.

Despite the weather and an early adjournment, we were able to conduct business two days last week.

House Bill 773 was one of several bills passed on the floor during the first part of the week. The language of this bill, aimed at improving public safety, makes it unlawful for anyone to discharge a gun or pistol on or within 50 yards of a public highway or street. The bill exempts anyone who is firing a gun at indoor/outdoor shooting ranges, firearm safety course facilities sponsored by a government entity, and any business that is licensed as a firearm dealer.

Another measure taken up this week, HB 877, modernizes the code for golf carts on public paths and roadways, making Georgia a model for all states. HB 877 provides a set of rules of the road for those cities that have not already established their own golf cart laws.

It also maintains local power for those cities, such as Peachtree City, which already have enacted traffic laws for these vehicles. Georgia is home to the leading manufacturers of golf carts, producing a total of 90 percent of golf carts in the world.

Early Tuesday morning, the Appropriations Committee, of which I am a member, met and passed the fiscal year 2015 budget out of the committee. This budget runs from July 1, 2014 until June 30, 2015. Now, we will wait for the FY15 budget, House Bill 744, to be placed on the Rules calendar where it will then be voted on in the House chamber.

We will examine in more detail provisions of the spending document in future columns.

Although the snow and ice disrupted legislative business for the second half of the week, I was proud to witness Georgia’s response to Winter Storm Pax.  Immediately after the National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for Georgia, Governor Deal put emergency response agencies on alert. Department of Transportation crews pre-treated roads, and school districts closed schools so that children would be kept off of the icy roads.

As the storm drew closer, Governor Deal declared a state of emergency for affected counties and released government employees before the temperatures dropped below freezing. I commend Governor Deal, state agency heads, and all emergency response employees, state and local, for taking the appropriate steps for preparedness through these challenging weather conditions.

Now that the weather has improved and the clean-up is in full swing around Georgia, we got back to work on Monday. We passed an adjournment resolution, which calls for the 2014 legislative session to conclude on March 20. I hope that you will contact me before this date, so that I can apply your ideas and opinions to this last month of lawmaking.

You are always welcome to visit or call my office at the State Capitol. The number is (404) 656-5099 or email at I look forward to hearing from you.