As I see it – the 2013 Session of the Georgia General Assembly

The Georgia House of Representatives convenes at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, January 14 for the first of forty legislative days comprising the 2013 session. Several of the key issues I anticipate considering include:

  • Adopting a Constitutionally required balanced State Budget that addresses an initial shortfall of $400+ million in state Medicaid/PeachCare funding. Debate will include continuation of the Hospital Provider Fee (Bed Tax) that excluded raises the shortfall to $600+ million. Further, though Governor Deal has indicated Georgia will not participate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) expansion of Medicaid, members will certainly request reconsideration. If Georgia were to expand coverage under this program, the systemic budget shortfall may exceed $1.2+ billion. I appreciate Governor Deal’s reasoning and support his decision for Georgia to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. While I also understand the arguments in favor of extending the Hospital Provider Fee, I oppose doing so and will support efforts to reform Georgia’s Medicaid program to reduce costs and close the budget deficit through less taxing measures.
  • Ethics Reform disguised as limiting lobbyists gifts to $100 or less. I believe our focus on ethics reform is somewhat misplaced and I fear that a simple lobbyist gift limit will result in widespread abuse of intent and an angrier citizenry eighteen months from now. I would prefer strengthening the State Ethics Commission by establishing a dedicated funding source perhaps a percentage of campaign contributions collected; permitting rule-making authority and subpoena powers to compel violators to answer charges; and retention of all fees collected to fund future audits, investigations, and operations. I also believe true ethics reform must consider the influence of governmental lobbyists that rarely appear on any disclosure form while daily spending your tax dollars advocating all too often for more government, bureaucracy, regulations, and taxation that simply is not in your best interest.
  • Pro and Anti-Gun advocates will most assuredly be pushing significant legislation. While I support protecting and expanding our liberties with regard to firearms to include church and campus carry, I suspect the best firearms advocates should expect this session is a strong defense against restricting current statutes further.
  • The Georgia World Congress Center Authority / Falcons Stadium tentative agreement is moving forward toward a 2017 stadium opening. A final agreement may require legislative approval to increase the bonding capacity of the GWCCA from $200 million to $300 million. From what I have read, public opinion remains largely opposed. Last session I co-signed a House Resolution, HR 1871, urging the GWCCA to use free-market principles in any negotiations regarding a new stadium. Based on all the information I have reviewed to date, I will vote against increased bonding capacity to support a new stadium.

The Georgia House and Senate will consider numerous other issues as well. Please keep me informed on the issues most important to you and your family. Whether we agree on a particular issue or not, I value your input and appreciate you sharing your opinions with me.