2015 Capitol Update – Week 1
On Monday, January 12, 2015, I took the Oath of Office along with 179 other Representatives and 56 Senators as we began the 153rd Legislative Session of the Georgia General Assembly. Governor Deal delivered his annual State of the State address in the House Chamber on Wednesday, January 14 and on Friday, January 16; the Governor released his budget proposals for the Amended FY 15 and FY 16 fiscal years.
In his address, Governor Deal detailed the exceptional progress Georgia is making creating 319,000 new jobs and increasing by 643 percent the state’s rainy day fund over the last four years. Georgia’s future is bright with companies like Mercedes-Benz USA and Porsche North America solidifying plans to re-locate their headquarters to our state. Georgia is now the third largest state for the film industry generating over $5 billion in economic impact this past year.
The Governor’s budget proposals continue his strong focus on education. Over $8 million will go directly to local school systems and an additional $35 million in grants to expand classroom access to broadband internet in the Amended FY 15 budget. In his Fiscal Year 2016 budget, Governor Deal allocates more than a half a billion dollars in new funding for Georgia’s education system, including $280 million to specifically aid local school systems to increase instructional days, eliminate furlough days, and enhance teachers’ salaries.
My colleagues and I will carefully review the recommendations during Joint Budget Hearings with the Senate next week. You may watch those hearings online at http://www.legis.ga.gov You may also watch the House in action, view live and archived committee meetings, and track legislation at the same website.
Committee Assignments and Legislation
Speaker Ralston and the Committee on Assignments have kindly allowed me to continue serving in the areas of my greatest passion and interest. I will remain Vice Chair of the Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight Committee as well as a member of the Regulated Industries, Transportation, and Ways & Means Committees. I anticipate a very busy session with important legislation in each of these key committees.
In addition to the first week ceremonial matters, I introduced HB 49 that would authorize paperless property tax billing. Upon becoming law, should a Tax Commissioner choose to offer paperless billing, the taxpayer will have the option to select electronic delivery of their property tax bill. Gwinnett County estimates participation rates that would result in savings approximating $100,000 per year.
House committee meeting calendar:
As always, I remain appreciative that you allow me to serve as your state Representative. I encourage you to contact me with any comments or questions you have about the legislation being considered at the state Capitol. You can reach me at my Capitol office at 404-656-0254 or on my cell at 404-966-5804 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.