When I was named chair of the Senate Transportation Committee in January, it was becoming clear that there could be some struggles with producing a balanced FY 2014 budget for Georgia.
When the terrorist attacks occurred in Boston during the running of the Boston Marathon, memories came flooding back of our own dark days in Atlanta.
A friend and I met up in the massive Frankfurt airport's central lobby just by coincidence.
One of the most challenging tasks the Georgia General Assembly takes on each year is sorting through the state's finances.
Unlike legislation, the budget isn't something that can be carried over to the next biennial year.
Has it really been 43 years since the first "Earth Day?"
I remember it well; that's when I became an environmentalist.
It turns out that you can go home again. I recently established a chair in crisis communications leadership at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications at my beloved University of Georgia.
UGA President-elect Jere Morehead, along with Dink NeSmith, chairman of the Board of Regents came for the ceremony and both made my family and me feel warmly welcomed on campus. That is something we haven't felt at my alma mater for a long time.
They are the best University of Georgia athletic team you have likely never heard of.
They have won five national titles and go into next week's national championships one of the favorites to win it all again.
I stood on an oil rig miles off the coast of Africa as the final pipe joints were pulled from a just completed well. The mood was somber because we had not found oil. The following week I sat in an uncomfortable meeting where our corporate vice president declared my efforts had resulted in the driest well in years.
Back in my office overlooking the beautiful San Francisco hills I pondered what to do next with the project.
When the phone rang, I knew who was on the other end: Skeeter Skates, owner of Skeeter's Tree Stump Removal and Plow Repair in Greater Metropolitan Pooler. I can't tell you exactly why but the phone always sounds more urgent when Skeeter calls.
One thing about Skeeter Skates. He gets right to the point. Niceties aren't his style.
In January, the Georgia State Senate started the first term of the 152nd legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly with a challenging task list.
We were asked to find a way to fill a large anticipated Medicaid shortfall, evaluate the ethical behavior of elected officials, do more with less in the state budget, revamp the state's juvenile justice system, clarify points from 2012's tax code overhaul and find ways to expand access to higher education - among many, many other items on the agenda.
In my last column, I shared some observations about current happenings and promised some more. So here they are.
As Christians observed Holy Week leading to Easter, one of the emphases has been on service and sacrifice.
One of the best parts about serving in the Georgia State Senate is the ability to honor groups and individuals in the Senate chamber. I am proud to represent District 51 at the State Capitol, and I am even more proud of the efforts that keep our district one of the best places to work and raise a family in Georgia.
While the work we do in the Senate is great, it pales in comparison to the way each of you represents the pride and labors of our communities.
It is IRS time and I've been putting together information to take to the CPS who has figured Taylor taxes for decades (one thing I have not completely learned).
Surprisingly, I admit my gratitude that, even with a limited income, I usually must pay some extra dollars. That means that I have had money to live well enough and have something left.
It is a theological fact that God really likes Georgia. That is why He put mountains in north Georgia and the Golden Isles smack up against the Atlantic Ocean and added a bunch of lakes and parks and historical sites in between. Otherwise, we could have been Iran. Or Detroit.
I stopped by last week to visit the man who is entrusted with these assets, Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources Mark Williams, to get an update. We didn't talk religion, but I suspect his views on what God did for Georgia pretty much line up with mine.
Property owners in Georgia who feel their property value is less than the appraised value set by the tax assessor has the right under the law to file a taxpayer's return of real property Form PT-50R. This form must be filed before April 1.
The law states your property must be assessed at "fair market value" or "fair and equal value."
The scene: I-16 near Dublin. Waaangh! Reep! Reep! Reep!
March 3 marked the 30th legislative day of the 2014 session. Known as "Crossover Day," the critical point in the session is the last chance for bills to pass the legislative chamber from which they originated.
Some of you might remember a popular song from the '80s called "The Final Countdown."
Last week consisted of an important few days, as it was the last week for bills to pass out of committees, since "Crossover Day" was on Monday.
This week, the Georgia General Assembly hit an important deadline: Crossover Day.
As predicted in this space a few weeks ago, there is compromise legislation pending in the General Assembly regarding the Common Core curriculum, the controversial program which seeks to establish consistent education standards across the country.
I had the pleasure of knowing Ken Newell for the past eight years. Ken was a well-liked and respected man, and had a real love for the people of Dawson County.
The Cherokee County Republican Party has a blurb on its website about Rep. Sam Moore, who won the 22nd District house seat earlier this month following the death of veteran lawmaker Calvin Hill. Among other tidbits about Moore are his hobbies, including this: "Playing jokes ... watch out. You have been warned."
The snow and ice melted from Winter Storm Pax, and we returned to Capitol Hill on Feb. 17. This was the sixth week of the 2014 legislative session and an important one. This past week, we passed the Fiscal Year 2015 budget, as well as many other significant pieces of legislation.
State projects are often hindered by two things: Personnel needs and a lack of funding. We do not have an unlimited bank account or line of credit, and every taxpayer dollar counts. This means we often look to creative methods to bring in the employees and technology needed to address Georgia's biggest needs.
Severe winter weather in Georgia is a rare occurrence. Although a few snowflakes do fall during the winter months, the snowflakes only stick around long enough to take a few pictures before melting away the next day in 50 degree weather.
Monday, February 10, 2014, marked the 20th day and half-way point of the 2014 legislative session. With only 20 days left to pass laws this year, we quickly got to work, voting on legislation and reviewing bills in committee.