The 153rd legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly began on Monday Jan. 12, with a ceremonial call to order by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle. The first day of the legislative session is always filled with necessary organizational votes and procedures, and this year was no different.
The full Senate body confirmed second terms for both President Pro Tempore David Shafer, R-Duluth, and Secretary of the Senate David Cook, and also approved the rules that will govern us throughout the next two-year term. All 56 state senators took the oath of office and were sworn in by State Supreme Court Justice Hugh Thompson, with family members and friends present.
The first week in general is always very light on legislative action. We passed various housekeeping resolutions such as House Resolution 3, which informs Gov. Deal that the Senate has convened. Senate committee assignments were released early in the week, and I’m honored to continue serving as chairman of Senate Rules Committee, and also as a member of the Appropriations, Economic Development and Regulated Industries Committees.
Committees are an important part of the process because they provide lawmakers with a closer look at proposed legislation and the opportunity to hear from parties who are both for and against any given bill.
Gov. Nathan Deal delivered his annual “State of the State” address to both the House of Representatives and the Senate in a joint session on Wednesday. In his address, the Governor provided an overview of Georgia’s success and upcoming legislative challenges.
The Governor focused on a number of topics, but primarily honed in on our increasing economic developments, outdated education practices, and transportation funding. Gov. Deal also offered a brief look at his budget recommendations for FY 2016, including significant increases for the ethics commission and K-12 education, as well as targeted pay raises for some state employees.
Next up is budget week, where we will attend briefings that provide us with an economic forecast and thorough information about our state’s financial needs. These hearings take place at the Capitol and provide a time for state agencies to propose their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.
We will listen to countless testimonies from agency leaders in order to allocate the necessary funds in the FY 2016 budget. Due to budget hearings, we will be back in the Senate Chamber and ready to begin debating legislation on Monday, January 26.
This session promises to be full of important legislation designed to help make Georgia a better place to live, to work and to play. I am honored that you have put your trust in me and I will always put your best interests at the forefront of my decision making while here at the Capitol.
Please feel free to contact my office at any time to talk about pending legislation or address other concerns in our district – my door and phone lines are always open!