If you know someone who you think might like to receive these emails forward them this link.
Wednesday a deadly tornado hit Adairsville, GA. If you would like to help the victims, please consider donating to Samaritan's Purse.
I grateful to all those who joined me Tuesday night for my second Online Town Hall meeting. You can watch the video here. You can also watch video from the 1/08/13 Town Hall here. We'll have another Online Town Hall meeting toward the end of February.
Wednesday I was privileged to introduce the Pastor of the Day. Georgia Tech Football Chaplain Derrick Moore was invited by Speaker Ralston to deliver the devotional on what turned out to be Georgia Tech Day at the Capitol. Student Leaders, President Bud Peterson and the Commander of the USS Georgia all visited the House and were recognized. I was honored to be a part of this. You can view video of Chaplain Moore's remarks here.
On Tuesday, Speaker Ralston introduced two bills aimed at improving Georgia's Ethics laws. HB142 includes a ban on individual gifts from Lobbyists to Elected Officials, a restoration of Rule making authority to the Campaign Financing Commission, and changes to the definition of what a Lobbyist is, including removal of the confusing rule that a lobbyist is a person who spends 10% of his or her time advocating for or against legislation. Hearings were held this week on the bill where concern was raised that the definition of a lobbyist currently in the bill would make it harder for average citizens to contact their elected officials. As I stated in my Town Hall meeting, I don't think that is the case but the Committee committed to refining the language to insure citizens' rights are not infringed.
The second ethics bill introduced, HB143 would require campaign funds raised after the December 31st report and the beginning of the Legislative Session be disclosed within five business days of the start of the Legislative Session. Currently the law requires such finds to be disclosed in the regular reporting period which could be as late as June 30th in non-election years. Legislators are prohibited from raising funds while the Legislature is in Session. HB143 would also allow local elected officials who raise less than $2500 per reporting period to file their reports locally rather than with the Campaign Finance Commission. This will save the CFC an enormous amount of work and still allow citizens access to reports should they desire to see them.
Thursday the House passed HB57 once again outlawing synthetic marijuana which has become a big problem and has been blamed for three deaths last year in Georgia. The chemists tweak the formula and the formerly banned substance becomes legal again. Hopefully the chemists will have a harder time this time.
Also on Thursday, the House passed HB55 in response to a January 10th State Supreme Court ruling. The Court tossed out a case against an alleged ecstasy distribution network saying State law did not allow Judges to approve wiretaps outside of their judicial circuit. HB55 fixes that, likely protecting numerous ongoing law enforcement investigations.
Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) reintroduced this week his bill to create automatic fee adjustments in cases where funds are not appropriated. The bill attempts to prevent the State from "diverting" fees collected to the General Fund rather than to the purpose the fee was collected. The bill sailed through the House last year but stalled in the Senate. I co-sponsored this bill again this year.
The House will be back in Session on Monday and will meet each day this week. I'll send out another of these weekly emails next weekend.
Please feel free to contact me anytime if I can be of assistance. I'm honored to serve you at the Capitol and covet your prayers and support.