Buzz’s Record

Legislative Votes, 2013 – 2014.

Click here for a spreadsheet showing all 779 votes I’ve cast in the last two years.

Interest Group Ratings

American Conservative Union: 2012 Defender of Liberty, 2013 Defender of Liberty.
Americans For Prosperity: Perfect Score.
Georgia Chamber of Commerce: C (2011). A+ (2012). B+(2013). A+ (2014).
National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB): 100%(2011-2012). 100% (2013-2014).
Georgia Parents Alliance: A+

Legislation

During my time in the Legislature, I’ve had the opportunity to sponsor, co-sponsor, and vote on many important measures. Below is a list of the measures I think best reflect my commitment to the people of Georgia and the residents of the Legislative District I represent. Most of these measures passed and were signed into law. Some are still being considered by the Legislature. We’ll keep working on the measures that haven’t passed yet.

Jobs

HB958 (2014) This legislation renews the $25 million dollar tax credit for qualified interactive video game production. The legislation also renews the back to school and energy star sales tax exemptions for two more years.
HB298 (2013) creates the privately funded Agriculture Commodity Commission requested by the Commissioner of Agriculture to better promote agricultural products grown in Georgia.
HB361, HB362, & SB179 (2013) strengthened Georgia’s Right To Work status. Protects the secret ballot in union elections and prevents any State agency, local government, authority, department, commission, board, or similar agency from requiring private businesses to use unionized labor.
HB100 (2011-2012) creates the Georgia Tax Court which would provide a venue for taxpayers to resolve problems with Georgia Department of Revenue.
HB386 (2011-2012) raises the tax exemption for married couples to reduce the “marriage penalty,” replaces the sales and ad valorem taxes on automobile sales with a one time title tax, eliminates the State sales tax on energy for manufacturers and agricultural business, provides other tax exemptions for business inputs in the agricultural industry, brings back annual sales tax holidays for certain items, and requires certain online retailers to collect Georgia sales tax to provide a more level playing field for Georgia’s bricks and mortar retailers. When fully implemented, the bill will be about a $200 million tax cut for Georgia’s businesses and individuals.
HB500 (2011-2012) provides additional job training for those receiving extended unemployment benefits.
HB863 (2011-2012) changes State law to give small businesses a better chance to sell products to the State government.
HB868 (2011-2012) was recommended by Governor Deal’s Competitiveness Committee. It modernizes several business tax credits making Georgia more competitive.
HB872 (2011-2012) seeks to strengthen Georgia’s laws dealing with metal theft. Metal theft had been costing Georgia employers millions each year.
HB1027 (2011-2012) renewed Georgia tax credit for film and video production as well as tax credit for video game production. According to the Motion Picture Association, this tax credit is responsible for 23,757 direct jobs and $1.3 billion in wages in Georgia.

Education

HB697 (2014) expands the Zell Miller Scholar designation to the HOPE Grant program for technical college students. The Zell Miller Grant Scholar is awarded the difference between the HOPE grant amount and the current academic year’s tuition.
HB283 (2013) repealed numerous outdated parts of Title 20, the part of the law dealing with education.
HB244 (2013) improves Georgia’s teacher evaluation system to be more focused on teacher improvement rather then the old pass/fail model.
HB173 (2011-2012) allows a teacher’s employment records to be expunged of false accusations once they’ve been proven false.
HB175, (2011-2012)called the “Online Clearinghouse Act” would allow teachers to offer courses they teach to other school systems around Georgia via the internet. These teachers, as well as the school system that employs them would a financial benefit to offering these courses. Thus, expert teachers would financially benefit from their expertise and students taking their courses would benefit from learning from the best teachers.
HB186 (2011-2012) the Career Pathways bill, allows students to receive specific training in a field of their choice. We hope this will better prepare students for the higher educational path they choose.
HB326 (2011-2012) addressed financial problems with the HOPE scholarship, ensuring HOPE’s financial stability in the coming years.
HR1162/HB797 (2011-2012) is a Constitutional Amendment allowing the Charter schools who have been denied by their local Board of Education.

Fiscal/Governmental Reform

SR415 (2014) proposes an amendment to the constitution to be voted on in November which would cap the state’s top marginal income tax rate at 6 percent if approved by the voters.
HB60, (2014) the Safe Carry Protection Act’s primary focus is to expand the Second Amendment rights of individuals with regard to Concealed Carry Permits. Permit holders would now be allowed to carry weapons in bars and churches—subject to the approval of the property owner—as well as in government buildings without active security screening.
HB788 (2014) will allow universities the ability to outsource management of student dormitories and parking lots. The bill also requires the Regents to engage in an open bid process when outsourcing the management of these facilities. This measure will cut costs, shift primary liability off the University System and reduce debt service.
HB142 & HB143 (2013) reformed the Ethics in Government Act by placing limitations on lobbyist spending, granting rule-making authority to the Campaign Finance Commission and other things. It puts a $75 cap on lobbyist expenditures on an individual Legislator and prohibits lobbyists from giving Legislators tickets to sporting events and recreational activities such as golf.
HB242 (2013) reformed the juvenile justice system based on recommendations made by the Governor’s Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform.
HB454 (2013) will help the State determine whether tax expenditures are achieving their desired result.
HR549 (2013) creates the House Study Commission on Professional Licensing Board.
HB33/SB33, (2011-2012) the Zero Based Budget Act would require every Department of State Government to submit a detailed budget showing every expense they make. This will allow the Legislature to find wasteful and outdated programs.
HB87, (2011-2012) called the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, targeted “coyotes” and others who traffick in illegal immigrants, requires businesses to use the Federal E-Verify system to insure people they hire are here legally, and provided immunity to illegal immigrants who report crimes committed against them, as well as other provisions.
HB456, (2011-2012) the Sunset Bill, would require the Legislature to reauthorize Departments of Georgia government. This will allow us to take a close look at each Department and determine if they are still needed.
HB641 (2011-2012) reformed Georgia’s criminal justice system based on recommendations made by the Governor’s Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform.
HB811 (2011-2012) would prevent the State of Georgia from diverting certain fees collected by the State into the general fund.
HB899, (2011-2012) a bill I introduced that included several election law “clean-up” items and several recommendation of Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s Election Advisory Council.

Transportation/Water

SB213 (2014) the Flint River Drought Protection Act authorizes – during periods of drought – EPD to augment flows in the Flint River Basin and to restrict large water withdrawal permit holders from withdrawing any of the supplemental water resulting from the augmentation. The measure establishes notice and appeal rights for any permit holder impacted by EPD exercising this authority.
HR4 (2013) proposes a solution to the Tennessee/Georgia border dispute with the intent of avoiding a Court battle.
HB806 (2011-2012) fixed a quirk in Georgia law preventing the DOT from immediately spending gas tax revenue. This freed up almost $1 billion in money that can be immediately used to address traffic problems.

Insurance/Healthcare Reform

HB943 (2014) formerly HB707, firmly establishes that neither the State of Georgia nor any of its departments will use money or human resources to advance the voluntary expansion of the state’s eligibility for medical assistance in furtherance of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The measure also prohibits the State of Georgia from creating an insurance exchange in compliance with the ACA.
HB990 (2014) prohibits any department, board, or representative of the State from expanding the eligibility requirements for Medicaid without legislative approval. Without this important protection in place any future Governor could unilaterally commit the state to billions of dollars in Medicaid expansion costs without going through the legislature. This is simply unacceptable given our commitment to responsible and balanced budgets.
SB98 (2014) addresses the Affordable Care Act as it relates to exchanges and excludes from coverage an elective termination of pregnancy. It also codifies a funding decision made by the Department of Community Health Board last Fall that provided that the SHBP will not cover elective abortions. The language in this bill reflects the current plan as it is being administered.
SB1 (2013) prohibits health insurance policies from denying a parent the right to inspect, review, and attain copies of health records relating to his or her own child.
HR107 (2013) creates the Joint Study Committee on Medicaid Reform.
SB236 (2013) requires health insurance companies to indentify which portion of premium increases are attributable to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.
HB47 (2011-2012) allows people in Georgia to purchase insurance sold in other States. This will increase insurance options for Georgians and lower costs.
HB248 (2011-2012) confirmed in Georgia law that Healthcare Sharing Ministries, where members help each other cover their medical costs, are not insurance programs and thus not subject to regulation by the PPACA (otherwise known as Obamacare).
HB461 (2011-2012) allows Georgia to for compacts with other States for the purpose of health care insurance. This could broaden health insurance options for Georgia’s citizens and reduce cost.
SB17 (2011-2012) creates an expert panel to examine proposed health insurance mandates to determine if they provide a benefit or merely drive up insurance costs.

Family/Children Issues

HB804 (2014) is intended to promote new technologies that impact the conduct of trial proceedings, specifically to allow for children (defined as under 17 years of age) to provide testimony without having to face the accused.
HB898 (2014) This bill enacts a new “Interstate Compact for Juveniles.” This compact between the states is to establish the proper supervision and return of juveniles that have absconded, escaped, or run away from supervision and control.
HB915 (2014) protects the credit reports of children from identity theft by allowing parents to “freeze” their credit reports.
HB21 (2013) set parameters for post-adoption contract agreements that are forged between biological and adoptive parents.
HB78 (2013) increased the penalties for elder abuse.
SB76 (2013) creates the Returning Veteran’s Task Force which will investigate and report to the Department of Veterans Services specific improvement recommendations. These recommendations will also be reported to the Speaker of the House, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Governor each year.
HB200 (2011-2012) strengthened Georgia’s laws relating to human and sexual trafficking, especially as it relates to minors. Sadly Georgia is a hub of human trafficking.
HB861 (2011-2012) allows the caregivers of children who receive State TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) funds to receive those funds directly when the parents fail a drug test. This would insure State funds do not support drug habits, those addicted to drugs can get the help they need, and State funds intended to help children, do.
HB954 (2011-2012) the Fetal Pain Bill, would limit abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. No mother would be required to carry a non-viable pregnancy to term, there are also exceptions when the mother’s life or health are in danger.
HR1151 (2011-2012) is a bill I introduced that creates a study committee to look at how we care for victims of human trafficking. The committee must report back to the Legislature by the end of 2012.

Constitutional Issues

SR736/HR1215 (2014) issues a call for an Article V convention of states for the purpose of proposing amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Georgia was the first state to issue this call.
SR371 (2014) re-issued Georgia’s call for a convention for proposing a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. constitution.
SR245 (2013) urges Congress to pass a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment.
HB930 (2014) requires the Legislature to give instruction to delegates to a convention of states and provides a method for Georgia to recall delegates who refuse to follow those instructions. This bill will help prevent Georgia’s delegates from advancing proposals for amendments outside the scope of the convention call.
HR1130 (2011-2012)/HR273 (2013)  urges Congress to repeal the 17th Amendment and return to election of US Senators to the States as originally spelled out in the Constitution.
HR1137 (2011-2012) calls for a Constitutional Convention for the purpose of enacting a Federal Balanced Budget Amendment.
HR1237 (2011-2012) urges Congress to allow Georgia to keep the Federal Gas Tax revenue and use it on transportation needs here in Georgia.
HR1809 (2011-2012) urges Congress to replace our current tax code with the Congressman Rod Woodall’s Fair Tax.

Miscellaneous

HB863 (2014) clarifies offenses involving animal cruelty by expanding the meaning of what constitutes “animal cruelty” and adds new activity which qualifies as “aggravated cruelty to animals.” The bill also elevates a conviction of “aggravated cruelty to animals” to a felony.
HB1080 commissions a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. be paid for with private funds and placed on the Capitol grounds.

Core Principles

My answers to the “Political Courage Test.”

I evaluate proposed legislation according to this 5 way test:

1) Less Government – Does the bill tend to reduce government regulations, size of government, or eliminate entitlements or unnecessary programs?

2) Lower Taxes – Does the bill promote individual responsibility in spending, or reduce taxes or fees?

3) Personal Responsibility – Does the bill encourage responsible behavior by individuals and families and encourage them to provide for their own health, safety, education, moral fortitude, or general welfare?

4) Individual Freedom – Does the bill increase opportunities for individuals or families to decide, without hindrance or coercion from government, how to conduct their own lives and make personal choices?

5) Stronger Families – Does the bill enhance the traditional American family and its power to rear children without excessive interference from the government?

I’m pro-life, having been endorsed by Georgia Right To Life, and an active member of Victory @ Hamilton Mill. Two years ago I signed the Mount Vernon Statement, an this passage from the sums up my core political beliefs succinctly:

A Constitutional conservatism unites all conservatives through the natural fusion provided by American principles. It reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety and leadership role in the world.

A Constitutional conservatism based on first principles provides the framework for a consistent and meaningful policy agenda.

  • It applies the principle of limited government based on the rule of law to every proposal.
  • It honors the central place of individual liberty in American politics and life.
  • It encourages free enterprise, the individual entrepreneur, and economic reforms grounded in market solutions.
  • It supports America’s national interest in advancing freedom and opposing tyranny in the world and prudently considers what we can and should do to that end.
  • It informs conservatism’s firm defense of family, neighborhood, community, and faith.
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