Last Thursday marked the 30th legislative day of the 2013 session.
Known as "Crossover Day," this critical point in the session marks the last chance for most bills to pass the legislative chamber from where they originated.
Let's face it. Judges can be pretty scary folks to We the Unwashed. About the only time we ever see them is when we are called for jury duty or when - Heaven forbid - we are a plaintiff or defendant or a witness, wishing we could be anywhere but in the courtroom.
But I will let you in on a little secret: Get them out of those black robes and away from their intimidating surroundings and these folks are fun to be around.
In reference to the proposed Calhoun Creek Reservoir, Mayor James Grogan stated in news reports: "It's a manmade reservoir already, an old rock quarry..."
It would be interesting to know what he bases this on. There is no evidence that there has ever been a quarry on Calhoun Creek or Peachtree Creek, the tributary which flows into it and would also be a part of the reservoir.
The Georgia House of Representatives has passed an ethics reform bill and has sent it on its way to the state Senate for its consideration and action.
But don't get out the confetti just yet. What one body sees as true ethics reform, the other sees as a desultory effort to curb the power and influence of those lizard-loafered lobbyists skulking the halls of the Gold Dome. We the Unwashed? We are caught in the middle, as usual.
This past week, the Senate passed House Bill 266, which would update Georgia's IRS code and clarify measures from 2012's tax reform overhaul by a vote of 41-7.
The bill was amended from its original version to reconcile any unintended financial repercussions from last year's comprehensive tax reform package.
Now that we're almost three quarters through session, the House is considering more legislation than at any other time this session. We spend longer days at the Capitol, and vote on more legislation.
This past week the House voted on several major pieces of legislation that will have a positive impact on our state.
Although I was just recently named chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, I am not new to the discussion on Georgia's wide range of transportation needs.
As a former DOT board member and a former county commissioner, I am well-versed in the transportation needs of more rural areas of the state, and as a former member of the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Overview Committee (MARTOC) I have also had the chance to review some of the common obstacles faced by a metropolitan mass transit system.
It is often difficult to foresee the end results of an action when it is initiated, although we are constantly taking actions that have far-reaching outcomes. That's exactly what life is all about.
Sometimes the results are serendipitous (look that one up), sometimes calamitous or run-of-the-mill or even unobserved. Generally, I think, we must look back and analyze situations in order to realize the cause/effect steps.
Last Wednesday marked the 20th legislative day, which puts us half way through the 2013 legislative session. The day was extremely special for me, because this was the day that House Bill 122 passed the House of Representatives.
My recent observations on the lack of respect given public school teachers in Georgia engendered a lot of responses but none better than this story sent to me by my friend, David Egan, co-director of the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island and a former educator himself.
I commend it to those members of the General Assembly who seem to spend more time and effort these days trying to starve public schools to death financially and promoting private school scholarship schemes with no public accountability and with all sorts of opportunity for abuse, rather than giving public school teachers the tools ...
I often write adventures from the past, but today I am writing about an event that is occurring this very moment - the Rome Confluence.
Last December, after a long day of meetings, I could think of nothing more important than going home and hugging my kids tightly.
The Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy was everywhere that day - TV, newspaper, social media and general conversation. When a parent sends a child to school or when a teacher goes to work, it is assumed both will return home safe and sound at the end of the day.
Experts tell us that we need a vision of a desired outcome in order to achieve it.
I've been thinking about some of the visions I have heard recently.
Are you sitting down?
I had a meeting with House Speaker David Ralston last week at the Capitol. Got your breath yet? There's more. It was a good meeting.
Last week was another busy week under the Gold Dome. Bills were introduced on various topics and all of my committees met to discuss legislation and to learn about issues occurring in our State.
The House and Senate went into a joint session on Thursday in the House of Representatives for the State of the Judiciary Address.
Last week, Winter Storm Leon brought snow and ice to many parts of our great state. Leon's impact on the metro Atlanta area was particularly harsh.
Columbia University's John McWhorter lectures on English linguistics and he, along with other linguists, are excited people these days. That is good because I would hate to think of them being bored.
My fellow Georgians, in order to keep my national certification as a modest and much-beloved columnist, it is a requirement that I submit to you annually a State of the Column message. This I do today. (Yea! Clap! Clap! Clap!)
Since I can't get out and about too much these days and since the weather has been too cold to be out and about much anyway, I decided to share some email chatter that might make you smile.
Every January, legislators from across the state convene at the Georgia State Capitol to set the course for Georgia's future. Because 2014 is the second half of a legislative biennial term, bills that did not pass in 2013 are still eligible for consideration in addition to the new bills introduced this year - which means legislators have a significant pile of work (literally, when you think about the stacks of printed bills on our desks...) ahead of us.
The purpose of this letter to the editor is to request the residents of Dawson County to assist me in contacting our local and state officials to work toward improving the unsafe intersection of Hwy. 53 and Hugh Stowers Road.
Gov. Nathan Deal gave his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly on Jan. 15. The annual event takes place in the House of Representatives and is attended by members of the House, Senate, State Supreme Court Justices, State Court of Appeal Judges and the State's Constitutional Officers.
I read a news report this week that says while we are living longer in the U.S., people in other countries are living even longer. Bummer.
Before 2013 faded out, my intentions were to congratulate a number of local people receiving honors. And though it is late, and I'll probably overlook some important ones, I'll still tip my hat to these.
I hope each of you had a safe and wonderful Christmas and that your New Year is off to a good start. My family was blessed this past year in so many ways, and we had a wonderful holiday season. Stacie and I have a tradition of taking the girls to the mountains for New Year's, and we had a great time again this year. The girls were extremely excited to be there to see their first snow of the season.