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.
So far this winter we have had periods of chilly weather mixed in with more mild conditions. This is the time when we might expect to see some springtail activity popping up.
I have already had one call from a household that was experiencing a sudden flush of tiny purple insects invading their house. This description is consistent with springtail activity, and if we continue to have mild and moist periods this winter, we can expect more springtail infestations.
As many of you recall, I opposed the recent charter school amendment, not because I oppose charter schools - I don't - but because I thought the wording of the amendment was duplicitous.
I thought it grossly unfair that Gov. Nathan Deal could wax eloquently on the need for passage of the amendment but State School Superin-tendent John Barge was not allowed to talk about opposing it. It was like Goliath beating up David.
There are many things that I simply do not understand and that's OK. The fact that I am not able to take advantage of lots of electronic devices may make me feel stupid, but it does not raise my blood pressure. I have long ago acknowledged that my finite mind will not comprehend infinity or divinity.
But arguments being floated against some measures of gun control not only surprise but outrage me.
In every middle school government class, there is a lesson about how a bill becomes a law-complete with charts, diagrams and textbook chapters.
We spent many hours as students reviewing and memorizing the process, and of course, passed the quizzes with flying colors. But with age sometimes comes a fuzzy recollection of those important lessons we learned so many years ago, and the one step of the process I am asked about the most is when a bill goes to committee. What is the function of committees? Who serves on the committee? Why are committee reviews necessary?
This past week was busy in the Georgia General Assembly.
We voted on several bills, including House Bill 57, legislation designed to protect Georgians from the growing problem of synthetic marijuana and narcotic "bath salts." These designer drugs can cause extreme paranoia, suicidal tendencies, hallucinations or death in some cases.
Every month, I sit down to review my family's household bills and pay what we owe in full.
Although there are always a few surprises (I remind my kids that they were not born in a barn, but the consequences of an open front door are reflected in the electric bill from time to time) my wife and I rearrange our budget to accommodate all of our monthly expenses. Even though our bills may fluctuate from time to time, we are careful to never spend beyond our means.
Last week the House and Senate appropriations committees began the arduous process of reviewing the governor's budget recommendations and turning them into the actual legislation that will ultimately guide all state spending.
Gov. Nathan Deal started the process Jan. 22 and was then followed by the leaders of our state agencies, each of whom explained their agency's budget and answered questions from House and Senate members.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
"Hello. Can I help you?"
My pilot eased back on the throttle, allowing our floatplane to start its decent toward the Wouri River. The massive river in Cameroon had flooded its banks because of the monsoons.
Low clouds and spotty fog hid much of the river as we scanned for a clearing in the grey muck. As we skimmed just above the rain forest canopy an opening emerged and we drove down, pulling up just before the water.
Don't look now but I think you are beginning to have some impact on the issue of unlimited lobbying expenditures in the Legislature.
Our politicians seem none too happy about having to derail their gravy train. They have tried to ignore you (and me) or, when necessary, explain to us in the most condescending manner the fact that just because they get to take expense-paid trips to fancy resorts (or Germany) or get free meals whenever they want or sit in private boxes at sporting events that you and I could never hope to see courtesy of lizard-loafered lobbyists ...
The Legislative Session is under way and it is off to a busy start.
Gov. Nathan Deal delivered his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Thursday. During the speech he discussed his key legislative agenda items for the year and delivered his proposed budget to the General Assembly.
The 2013 legislative session kicked off last week and the Georgia State Senate wasted no time getting to work.
Although many issues will pass through the legislature this year, the decision on whether or not to continue the hospital provider fee as a funding mechanism for the state's Medicaid program is one that has received media attention for the past several months.
I have the privilege of being with a group of newspaper publishers at the Georgia Press Association's winter gathering in Atlanta this week.
It is one of those times I wish my momma and daddy were still around to see the crowd their little boy is hanging out with these days. Momma would be pleased; Daddy would be surprised.
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.