Jan. 28 marked the third week of the 2019 Legislative Session as well as a very special day for myself, Rep. Bill Hitchens Sen. Jack Hill: Effingham Day at the Capitol.
My colleagues and I were joined by representatives from the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce, the Effingham County Board of Education, Effingham Health System and the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority. It was great to see so many friends from home at the Capitol and have so many great young people serve as pages for the day.
On the legislative front, the General Assembly held an abbreviated session schedule last week in anticipation of Super Bowl XLIII and the estimated one million visitors to Atlanta.
Super Bowl XLIII was expected to generate an economic impact for metro Atlanta and our state of between $198 million and $400 million. To be sure, the game and its accompanying events showcased the strength and Southern hospitality of our state and our capital city to the entire world!
Even with the increased traffic and road closures resulting from the Super Bowl, the House was hard at work on one of the most important issues facing rural Georgia: broadband connectivity.
The House Economic Development Committee passed two pieces of legislation authorizing both Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs) and rural telephone cooperatives to deliver broadband services in an effort to expand the number of providers able to reach our unserved and underserved rural regions.
These bills build on the tremendous accomplishments the General Assembly achieved in rural broadband last session. These include the establishment of the Georgia Broadband Development Initiative, which will provide funding to communities across our state who have partnered with providers to build out broadband access and the creation of the “Broadband
Ready Community Site Designation,” which enables local governments to fast-track broadband deployment by adopting efficient permitting and approval processes. Beyond our work to expand broadband providers in rural areas, you can expect the General Assembly to evaluate lowering and consolidating communications taxes and fees in an effort to broaden the base of payers so that our state can financially support broadband deployment in the estimated 16 percent of Georgia without reliable service. As I have said before, broadband is the infrastructure of the 21st century and I will continue to fight to ensure South Georgia benefits from this vital technology.
As we work hard in the days ahead to strengthen Georgia families and businesses, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail (Jon.Burns@House.Ga.Gov) or engage on Facebook (www.FB.com/JonBurnsGA) with your feedback. It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly, and I look forward to seeing you soon.
Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly where he serves as the House majority leader.