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Tonight there will be major changes to how traffic flows along Highway 316 at the GA 20 intersection. If you drive there take note:
“The next phase of construction is to begin lowering State Route 316 where the new SR 20 Bridge will be built. Because SR 316 runs along the highest ridge in the area, 316 must be lowered. This saves us time and money by minimizing the SR 20 bridge structure. Traffic will be redirected from SR 316’s normal path to the outside lanes that will eventually be ramps for the new interchange. Please slow down and follow the signs and barrels until you get used to this change. Remember, all fines are doubled in a work zone if you are ticketed,” explained Harold Mull, District Construction Engineer.
This past Thursday evening I had my third Online Town Hall Meeting. You can watch video from the meeting here. We'll have another one near the end of March. You can watch the video from the 1/29/13 meeting here. You can also watch video from the 1/08/13 Town Hall here.
We voted on a number of important measures this week. You can see the list of all votes taken in the House here. Click on each vote number to see more details about what was being voted on and how I voted on that particular measure.
On Monday the House passed HB142 and HB143, Speaker Ralston's ethics reform bills. HB142 bans gifts and meals to individual Legislators, restores rule making authority to the Georgia Campaign Finance and Transparency Commission, making it easier to adequately carry out their responsibilities, and clarifies the registration process for Lobbyists to prevent underground lobbying. Provisions of the bill that caused concern among citizen activists have been modified to allow those who are not paid to lobby and spend no money lobbying to continue to be at the Capitol anytime they want (see lines 275-290 of the bill, and other exemptions from lobbyist registration beginning on line 305).
HB143 requires Legislators who receive campaign donations after the December 31st disclosure report and prior to the start of the Legislative session (the second Monday of January each year) to file a report of those donations. HB143 also allows local elected officials who receive less than $2500 in donations to file their reports locally rather than with the Campaign Finance Commission, freeing up resources at the CFC.
Several other key pieces of Legislation passed this week including:
HB242, or the Juvenile Justice Reform bill, would substantially revise and modernize provisions relating to Georgia’s juvenile proceedings and enact comprehensive juvenile justice reforms. These changes have been discussed by advocacy organizations for years and many were recommended by the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform, which Governor Nathan Deal asked to study the state’s juvenile justice system and formulate ways to improve public safety while decreasing costs.
HB244 would create uniformity in the way Georgia teachers are evaluated by establishing a single statewide educator evaluation system. This evaluation system has been piloted in 50 districts across the state, and teachers, superintendents, principals, and advocates who participated in the pilot program all came together to publicly support this bill. The evaluation system implemented by HB244 would become effective no later than the 2014-2015 school year, and would apply to teachers, assistant principals, and principals. Creating this evaluation system would ensure all public school teachers and school leaders in Georgia receive the feedback they need to grow and improve in their profession.
HB283 repeals numerous outdated and unnecessary State regulations on local school systems, while HB327 would provide for a method for good performing school systems to be free from many other State regulations regarding the day to day operations of local school systems.
HB284 creates a framework for youth sports programs to provide information and care for young athletes who suffer a concussion.
Thursday is "Crossover Day," the deadline for legislation to pass the House in order to be considered by the Senate so this week will be a busy one. The House will pass the Fiscal Year 2014 budget this week and consider many other pieces of Legislation. One bill sure to attract attention is HB512, the "Safe Carry Protection Act." This bill has the support of organizations like the National Rifle Association and Georgia Carry.
On Friday I dropped HB524, a bill I had introduced last year to allow adults adoptees to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate without having to go to Court to do so. Another bill I dropped, HB219, could pass the House this week or it may be folded into the Juvenile Justice Code reform bill I mentioned above. HB219 would allow victims of human trafficking or sexual exploitation who have been caught up in the legal system the opportunity to present evidence to a Judge that they are victims, not perpetrators of the sexual crimes they are accused of. Two years ago when the Legislature passed revisions to Georgia's human trafficking laws, we allowed people arrested in connection with certain sexual crimes such as prostitution to present evidence they were victims of human trafficking or exploitation if that is the case. HB219 extends that same right to current human trafficking victims. This bill is one of the recommendations of the Joint Human Trafficking Study Committee I was a member of last year.
Committees continue to work on numerous bills working their way through the Legislative process. House Committee meetings are broadcast live and past meetings are available online.
The House will be back in Session at 10 AM on Monday and will meet Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. You can watch each day's session live or review the archives. I will send out another of these weekly emails next weekend.
You can connect with me via Twitter and Facebook (personal or campaign page or ) and see photos from events at the Capitol on my Tumblr page. Also, you can watch each day's session live on the internet.
Please feel free to contact me any time I can be of assistance. I'm honored to serve you at the Capitol and covet your prayers and support.