This past Monday the 2014 Session of the Georgia Legislature began and we got right to work. Budget hearings began on Wednesday and various Appropriations Committees meeting on Thursday. On Friday we passed our first bill of the session HB310, which moves state and partisan county primary elections from July to May 20, so that the state elections will coincide with the federally mandated elections that were recently moved to May. If this fix had not been made, as voters we would have to vote at separate times to decide who we were going to send to Washington and who we were going to send to Atlanta. The change in dates also provides troops overseas with more time to vote via absentee ballot. Election dates for 2014 will be:
General Primary: Tuesday May 20, 2014
General Primary Runoff: Tuesday July 22, 2014
General Election: Tuesday November 4, 2014
General Election Runoff: Tuesday January 6, 2015.
For more information visit the Secretary of State’s website.
On Wednesday, Governor Nathan Deal delivered his State of the State Address. In his address, Gov. Deal detailed the exceptional progress Georgia’s economy has made since the Great Recession. The state’s unemployment rate is atit’s lowest since 2009, and 217,000 jobs have been created in the past three years. Lower unemployment means more Georgians are back at work, and state revenues are returning to pre-recession levels.
Gov. Deal presented his ideas on how to best allocate state revenues in his amended budget for the Fiscal Year 2014 (AFY 2014), the mid-year spending plan, which helps fund the final few months of the current fiscal year, and full budget for Fiscal Year 2015 (FY 2015), the state’s budget from July 1 to June 30. He projects that revenues for AFY2014 and FY2015 will total $20.2 billion and $20.8 billion respectively. Both figures are a slight increase from the $20 billion that was originally forecast for FY2014 last session.
Georgia’s education system ranked at the top of Governor Deal’s priority list in his address. Among his goals for education was an increase in internet access at schools across the state, expanded online learning programs, and the creation of a new Zell Miller Hope Grant for technical college students who maintain a 3.5 GPA. The Governor then delivered his budget proposal, detailing the funding for these, and other, state projects. In his budget summary, Gov. Deal recommended that Georgia’s education system obtain the largest budgetary increase in the past seven years. With a partnership between school systems, such funds have the potential to restore instructional days that were cut during the economic downturn and provide teachers with a much-needed and long-awaited pay raise.
I am working on several bills this session which I will detail in the coming weeks. However, on Tuesday I will present HB524 which seeks to help adult adoptees obtain a copy of their original birth certificate. The hearing will take place at 1 PM and you can watch the hearing online.
There are also a number of ways to stay in touch with me:
1) Download the “vote4buzz” app for your iPhone. Search for “vote4buzz” in the App Store or click here. In the app you’ll be able to participate in “flash polls” on hot topics and see my latest Facebook and Twitter posts, as well as photos from the Session.
2) “Like” my page on Facebook.
3) Follow me on Twitter.
4) Follow me on Instagram.
5) Visit my You Tube channel to see videos, including videos from last year’s online Town Hall meetings.
You can also contact or visit me at the Capitol:
Capitol Office: 504-B Coverdell Legislative Office Building Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Capitol Phone: 404-656-0188
I covet your prayers and value your feedback. Feel free to contact me any time.