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HOPE at the top of Ralstons list
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When asked to prioritize his 2011 Legislative Agenda, Speaker David Ralston put keeping the HOPE Scholarship viable at the top of his list.


Our Joint House and Senate Committee continues to gather data and suggestions toward solving the current problem. As always, when the economy causes job-loss, the number of students in the university system increases dramatically. We now have more students than the revenues from HOPE can support.


The Joint Committee will probably recommend legislation to modify the current method of dispensing lottery money, but I have no idea what will be recommended. There are still members of the General Assembly who would like to see HOPE changed from merit based to needs based.


If the lottery money becomes needs based, it ceases to be “Help Outstanding Pupils Educationally.” I am against that change because there are other programs in place to help those who can’t afford tuition and those whose grades aren’t outstanding.


Georgia Tech Research Institute recently held a legislative roundtable on Energy and Environment. As chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology, I was asked to participate with other invitees of the Legislature and technology industries, including solar and natural gas.


It was the opinion of the group that Georgia does need an energy policy but not a mandated energy portfolio as some other states have. We also concluded that subsidies for alternative sources of energy should have “sunsets,” and that at some point all sources must be economically competitive.


Shortly after our roundtable, an article supporting our findings appeared in the opinion section of The Gainesville Times (Nov. 23) entitled: “Green energy still not ready for prime time.” 


The article pointed out that green energy executives “regularly acknowledge that their industries face ruin unless the taxpayer spigot is kept wide open, all the while providing assurances that they have become cost-competitive.”  


“Although conventional energy sources like coal and natural gas also receive subsidies, their existence does not depend on handouts ... renewable power generation receives at least 50 times the taxpayer subsidies doled out to fossil fuels per unit of energy produced ... even before the 2009 stimulus act and its more than $60 billion in green energy giveaways.”


“In the face of rising deficits, it’s well past time to end wasteful, taxpayer-funded welfare.” 


If you haven’t seen this article, it really is worth reading.


With all the money spent subsidizing “renewable green energy,” still only two percent of the nation’s electricity comes from these sources — wind, solar and biomass. 


In the long term, the individual choices of people and businesses, not government, will lead to a more diversified fuel supply, reliable energy technology, and environmental protection that is effective as well as efficient.


We know that coal, natural gas and nuclear power can be used to generate electricity safely and cleanly. If we fail to protect free markets and trade for energy, we risk supply interruptions and rising costs, which in turn will reduce economic growth, job creation and weaken our security.


Unhindered and unsubsidized competition among energy technologies is the best means to discovering tomorrow’s new energy sources. Market-driven energy policies will generate the wealth necessary to maintain a healthy environment and provide our homes and businesses with affordable and reliable electricity.


The next legislative session begins just after the New Year. Let me know what your legislative needs are so I can be prepared to assist.



Rep. Amos Amerson can be reached at 689 N. Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533; (706) 864-6589; e-mail Or call Gerald Lewy at (706) 344-7788.