Capitol Update Week 1 – And we’re off!

CY_RD00U0AA05_lRemembering Dr. King

On this special holiday, I hope you will join me in remembering the power in affecting non-violent change, as epitomized by Dr. King, in our communities and state.

And we’re off!
The horse race that is the 2016 Session of the Georgia General Assembly is underway. The bell rang at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, January 11 and Representatives and Senators are fast at work preparing for a quick session in advance of May 24 primary elections.

State of the State
On Wednesday, Governor Deal delivered his 6 th State of the State address before a joint House and Senate. Highlights include:

  • The state’s Rainy Day Fund balance now exceeds $1.4 billion
  • Our post-recession unemployment rate has reached a new low at 5.6 percent
  • Georgia has added 22,000 new manufacturing jobs generating over $900 million in wages
  • Since taking office, Governor Deal and legislators have restored over $1.5 billion to education
  • The Governor’s FY 2017 budget proposal includes an additional $300 million for K-12 education to include 3 percent raises for classroom teachers
  • The FY 2017 budget also proposes a $10 billion, 10-year comprehensive transportation plan expanding our managed-lane system funded via HB 170

The Governor concluded his State of the State address releasing his $23.7 billion proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2017. Joint House and Senate budget hearings will consume the majority of our work next week.

Your Second Amendment Rights
Democrats, including a Representative of Gwinnett County, introduced HB 731 seeking to strip you of Constitutional Second Amendment rights. HB 731 would go so far as toauthorize the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to confiscate those firearms the authors deem objectionable.

I strongly oppose any and all attempts to weaken your rights as a law abiding citizen to own and carry firearms. Fortunately, Speaker David Ralston shares a steadfast resolve to protect your Constitutional rights and has said he will exercise his authority to prevent passage of HB 731.

A common sense bill, SB 270, by Gwinnett Senator P.K. Martin seeks to expand Georgia’s carry law to include law enforcement retirees moving to our state. The extremes between these two pieces of legislation provide a clear distinction on who is looking out for you. I will proudly support Senator Martin’s bill.

Transportation
Our newly appointed House Transportation Chairman Christian Coomer tasked me with leading an effort to formulate a Resolution establishing a Special House Study Committee to develop a Statewide Transit Plan. As an outspoken advocate for managed lanes, bus rapid transit, and other flexible, cost-effective and high ROI modes of public transportation, I look forward to working with heavy-rail advocates to determine an appropriate balance serving the best interests of all Georgians.

Another transportation issue returning this year is HB 411 permitting heavier logging trucks on Georgia’s county and city roads. I served on the Heavy Truck Weight Study Committee this past summer and I will be offering an opinion in opposition to increasing truck weights. Also opposed to HB 411 is the Association of County Commissioners, Georgia Municipal Association, Georgia Department of Transportation, and Triple A among others.

Let me hear from you
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 brett.harrell@house.ga.gov.

Thank you,

Brett