Tolleson: Update from the Capitol | Politics
We started this week with the best of intentions of vetting bills and amending the budget, however, Mother Nature had other plans in mind. As a result of the severe winter storm that hit portions of Georgia this week, the Georgia General Assembly did not convene as regularly scheduled. However, as required by state law, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle gaveled in at 10 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday to complete days 12 and 13 of the session.
Throughout the hardships of this week, it was encouraging to see the outpouring of Southern hospitality and generosity demonstrated by Georgians across the state. Now that the snow has melted and things are getting back to normal here in Atlanta, the Georgia General Assembly resumed business on Friday, January 31 with the Senate gaveling in for Day 14 of the legislative session. The appropriations subcommittees will continue to meet in order to prepare the amended budget for a Senate floor vote next week.
On Tuesday, both the House of Representatives and the Senate dedicated the morning to celebrating Georgia National Guard Day at the Capitol to acknowledge and thank them for their hard work. Members from the Ga. Guard, along with Adjutant General Jim Butterworth were in attendance for the celebrations. However, a lot changed in a couple of hours and by late afternoon, members of the Guard had changed from their formal wear to their fatigues to get out and help in a time of extreme need. The Ga. Guard provided assistance to around 500 stranded motorist, transported 60 MRE’s (meals ready to eat) and 1,000 bottles of water while assisting in the towing of cars.
Not only did the Ga. Guard report for duty, but the Georgia State Patrol, local police departments, outstanding citizens and many more went to work on Tuesday afternoon assisting stranded drivers and ensuring the safety of students late into the night. Although in a time of hardship, the great people of Georgia stepped up to the plate to help each other out, whether you helped push a car off the ice or handed out food to stranded motorist, I want to thank you for exemplifying what it means to be a good Samaritan.
Prior to the snow, we celebrated Mayor’s Day on Monday where I was lucky to welcome three of our prestigious mayors from District 20. I want to thank Mayor Randy Toms of Warner Robins, Mayor Phil Best of Dublin and Mayor Jimmy Faircloth of Perry for making the trip to Atlanta to discuss city issues with other city leaders and state legislators.
In addition, 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 that brought about the creation of the cooperative extension service in the United States. Cooperative Extension extends lifelong learning to the people of Georgia through unbiased, research-based education in agriculture, the environment, communities, youth and families to communities all over our state. We are lucky here in Georgia to have the best Cooperative Extension services in America as we are able to work with professionals from two excellent land-grant institutions (UGA and Fort Valley State University).
Next week, the Georgia General Assembly will convene for days 15- 19 of the session and the committee process will gear back up. Although the weather stalled Senate work this week, we remain dedicated to passing a balanced budget and bills that provide the best environment for Georgian’s possible. As we move forward, I will continue to update you on the status of the amended and general budget; as well as Senate Bill 296 which protects Jekyll Island’s natural beauty by allocating specific land for developmental purposes.
For the next several months, I will be spending a lot of time at the Capitol working for you this Session. If there are any issues you wish to have addressed, I would love to hear from you. I look forward to continuing my service on behalf of my constituents in the 20th Senate District. Georgia is on the right track. I am confident that the steps we take this year will mean lasting prosperity for future generations of Georgians.