2018 Legislative Session Week One
The 2018 Legislative Session and 154th Georgia General Assembly officially began on Monday, January 8, 2018, and my colleagues and I are prepared to work diligently in the following weeks to discuss and pass important legislation. Day One is always an exciting and significant part of our session, and this week we channeled that energy into our work as we discussed legislative business, met with committees to review and discuss proposed legislation, and Governor Nathan Deal delivered his annual State of the State address.
State of the State Address
Governor Deal’s State of the State address touched on many important topics, including Georgia’s exceptional economic growth, funding for the educational system, and most importantly the figurative significance of planting “orchards of opportunity” for our future generations. Next year we will celebrate his retirement of serving as Georgia’s governor for seven years and serving our state for four decades.
Governor Deal’s touching address began with a rumination of Georgia’s growth since he became our state’s 82nd governor in 2011. He has achieved the following accomplishments: an exceptional drop in Georgia’s unemployment rate from 10.4 percent to 4.3 percent, which is the lowest it has been in over 10 years; the creation of more than 675,000 private sector jobs; the maintenance of our state’s AAA bond rating and addition to our Rainy Day Fund; Georgia’s recognition as the No. 1 state in which to do business for five consecutive years; the booming film and television industry; and investments in education and criminal justice reform.
- Georgia’s Film Industry – Georgia’s film industry growth in the past decade includes a $9.5 billion economic impact, the movement of over 200 new companies to Georgia to support film and television production, the accountability of 92,000 jobs across our state, and an increase in student interest of the courses at the Georgia Film Academy. The film industry will only continue to flourish with programs such as these, and I look forward to seeing the benefits of its growth!
- Education – The following advances in education have been made since Governor Deal has been in office: state spending on education has increased by $3.6 billion for a total of $14 billion in state education expenditures, the HOPE Career Grant program was created, a marketing campaign to highlight Georgia’s technical colleges for post-secondary education growth was developed, and funds were created to establish the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, which is named after his wife, former teacher, and supporter of young learners First Lady Sandra Deal.
- Criminal Justice – Governor Deal has focused heavily on criminal justice reform efforts since taking office, and he has had immense success in his endeavors. There are currently 149 state-funded accountability court programs that sentence alternatives to nonviolent offenders, and each of Georgia’s 49 judicial circuits operates at least one sort of accountability court.
- Amended Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019 State Budget – The following proposals were made by Gov. Deal for the 2018 state budget: an allocation of $102 million for K-12 enrollment growth, $10.7 million for growth in Georgia’s Dual Enrollment program, $43.6 million for the Indigent Care Trust Fund and Medicaid, $15.1 million for child welfare services to care for children in state custody, $2.4 million for autism services for children under the age of 21, $17.6 million for Forestland Protection Act grants and $10 million for beach nourishment projects and $25.2 million for airport runway extension projects. Gov. Deal’s 2019 state budget proposals include: $361.7 million for the Teachers Retirement System, $127 million for K-12 education, $30 million to assist low-wealth school systems, $28.8 million for child welfare services to fund out-of-home care growth and foster care per diem increases, $22.9 million to implement recommendations from the Commission on Children’s Mental Health, $5 million for accountability courts to implement new courts and expand existing courts, and $31 million for transportation and $100 million to repair roads and bridges in Georgia. These proposals will continue to be reviewed and revised as we proceed with our legislative session.
An adjournment resolution, our legislative calendar, was also covered during this session. We create this schedule in order to make the most of our together, as my colleagues and I are not full-time lawmakers and face other obligations outside of the General Assembly. Our time together is critical, and it is important that we adjust our adjournment resolution to the benefit of our Georgia Assembly.
College Football Playoff National Championship Day
Our state was honored to host the College Football Playoff National Championship at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium last Monday, and we took some time to celebrate this event during our first week of session by adopting House Resolution 867, which recognizes Dan Corso and commends the Atlanta Football Host Committee for organizing this great event for our state. Despite the final outcome of the game, we were proud of our state for hosting this game for the first time in Georgia’s history.
Now that the legislative session has officially begun, my House colleagues and I will be working diligently to pass meaningful legislation on behalf of all Georgians. I hope that my session updates will help you to stay informed on legislative matters that impact our community and state as a whole. The House website has several tools that might be useful to you throughout the legislative session: a live stream of House proceedings, live and archived committee meeting videos and detailed information on all legislation we are considering in the General Assembly.
If you ever find yourself in Atlanta during session, I encourage you to visit me at my Capitol office, and please do not hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions or concerns regarding any current or upcoming legislation. My Capitol office is located at 220 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334, my office phone number is 404-656-5912, and I can be reached via email at email@example.com. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.