The General Assembly is at a critical juncture as we mark the midpoint of the 2012 Legislative Session. With many bills still being reviewed and debated in committees, there is a growing sense of urgency to pass legislation prior to Crossover Day.
One bill in particular that I would like to highlight this week is SB 292, also known as the Social Responsibility and Accountability Act.
I seem to have an innate ability to make folks mad. Usually, it is the humor-impaired and special interest twits.
Today, I hope to make everybody mad, no matter your race, creed, color or university affiliation. This diatribe is for all.
Over the past two weeks, I have received at least 200 e-mails pertaining to HR 1162 (a proposed constitutional amendment on public education) and its companion legislation, HB 797. The e-mails are split about 50/50, with most of those asking for a "no" vote being from school teachers and most of the "yes" votes coming from parents.
This begs the question: Why does Georgia need a constitutional amendment on public education this year?
As we've discussed in previous columns, Georgia is currently one of the most generous providers of merit-based financial aid in the nation. However, the HOPE scholarship is currently under attack by opponents who have proposed an income-based salary cap for students whose families make more than $140,000 per year.
When HOPE was originally created, eligibility was partially based on family income levels; this restriction was removed in 1995. No other state lottery restricts eligibility based on family income; every state lottery scholarship is set up to be a merit award program.
There was a time at my (Methodist) churches when we regularly stood in line to go kneel at an altar, be served communion, and then hear the minister announce, "Let these retire and others take their places."
We are doing it somewhat differently now: Going to the altar individually (after communion) rather than in groups. But whenever I learn of someone retiring from a public position, I remember that phrase and often wonder what will happen when "others take their places."
The 2012 Legislative Session is moving forward at a rapid pace under the Gold Dome as we begin to move bills through the legislative process. In just a few short weeks, we've already made great progress toward passing legislation that responds to our citizens' needs.
Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with commissioners of the Union, White and Dawson County delegations at the Association of County Commissioners Legislative Conference where we discussed issues relevant to the county's needs.
A miracle took place in the House of Representatives last week. For the first time in recorded history, a budget passed without a single dissenting vote on either side of the aisle.
Last January Gov. Nathan Deal conservatively estimated state revenues of $18.3 billion for Fiscal Year 2012.
In order to keep my national certification as a modest and much-beloved columnist, I am required to submit annually a State of the Column message. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Please stand and applaud if you hear something that floats your boat or look bored if you don't. You may be on television.
"My fellow Georgians, ladies and gentlemen and significant others, I am pleased to tell you the state of this column has never been better. (Applause.)
I just wanted to thank Dick Yarbrough for his recent column about teachers and the state of education in Georgia.
I am glad he will be watching Chip Rogers to see if he tries his vouchers bill again.
The 2012 Legislative Session is off to a fast start, as lawmakers have already passed several pieces of legislation and met to discuss the governor's budget recommendations.
In addition to my duties at the Capitol, I spent time this week meeting with several key leaders from throughout the 51st District, as well as my constituents.
Whew, that was close. I almost became a Baptist the other day. Not just any Baptist, but a (gulp) Southern Baptist.
Let me add here that there have been times when the Rev. Dr. Gil Watson, the world's greatest preacher, has become so weary of trying to save my sorry soul that he would gladly trade me to the Baptists, Presbyterians or even the Islamic Center for the Advancement of Self Pity in return for two altos, a Sunday school teacher and an usher to be named later. Dr. Gil only has these thoughts when I insult some demographic ...
The mayors and city officials from around Georgia hosted a breakfast for the General Assembly and selected state-wide officers on Jan. 23.
Mayor Gary McCullough, the Dahlonega City Council, Senator Steve Gooch and I were present for the occasion.
There must be some irony in the timing of President Obama's recent trip to Disney World. He returned to his home base of "fantasy land" to give an address regarding the need to boost tourism. He looked a tad on the silly side using Cinderella's Castle as his backdrop while exclaiming "America is open for business!" Taking a vacation in the middle of a depression is hardly a choice when you are unemployed.
Yet just hours earlier, the president was turning "thumbs-down," killing the Keystone XL Pipeline in our midwest.
Last week was budget week at the Capitol. The Appropriations Com-mittees of both the Senate and House held joint hearings from the governor and his department heads.
Gov. Nathan Deal has set the "revenue estimate" for FY 2013 at $19.2 billion.
Fire ants can be a nasty problem in the home landscape. They love to make unsightly mounds in the middle of our lawn turf and ...
I regret I won't have time this week to get into the details about how Barack Obama managed to wiretap Donald Trump's shoelaces ...
On March 6, Ken Akins, Marissa Pyle, and Bette Holland met with Rep. Doug Collins (R) at his Gainesville office to talk about the Affordable ...
House Bill 217 has passed the House and is now in the Senate for consideration. It seems to me that the legislators are again trying ...
As the General Assembly marches closer to Sine Die, our constitutional duty of passing a balanced budget for Georgia's government has become our biggest ...
After almost two decades of doing this, you think I would have figured out by now what pushes your hot button.
We returned to the Gold Dome on March 6 for legislative day 29, which began the ninth week of the 2017 session.
Crossover Day was a wild ride for everyone involved, but like every year, we made it through-even if it was late into the night.
Don't look now, but the initiative to deal with low-performing schools in Georgia has taken a big step toward becoming law.
Last week Rep. Kevin Tanner's bill on how to help our challenged schools in Georgia passed through the State House and will now be ...
With the completion of Legislative Day 28 last week, the State Senate continues to work hard as we approach Day 40, when the 2017 Legislative ...
Friday marked the end of a very busy week at the Capitol. The Senate picked up the pace with committee meetings running late into the ...
Sometimes I wonder if good customer service has gone the way of the dodo bird and 8-track tapes.
On Feb. 21, the House reconvened for another lively week under the Gold Dome where we were hard at work drafting, discussing and passing legislation ...
I have been a homeowner in Dawson County since 2008.