UPDATE: Here’s when you can expect to get your bloomin’ onion fix at Dawson County’s first Outback Steakhouse
The Australian-themed restaurant will soon open its first location in Dawson County.
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Is Independence Day 2009 different than 1776?
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There will be Independence Day celebrations in virtually every county in the state.  The Independence Day celebration in Dahlonega should be another showcase event.  Once again we will be reading portions of the Constitution.


In 1776, our country and its finances hung by a thread.  There was very little money to fund our fledgling military and even less to fund a central government. 


Taxing folks on anything but whiskey and tea wasn’t widely known.  At that time, the individual states still had most of the responsibilities and were wary of a strong federal government.


As Thomas Jefferson said: “I place economy among the first and most important of republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared...To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.” 


Are Jefferson’s words relevant in today’s world?  If you think so, then let your Congressmen hear that those values are still important, and encourage them to take a step back and look at what is happening to America’s Independence.


Around the state, there have been articles speculating on a Special Session of the General Assembly to make more cuts in the FY 2010 Budget.  As yet, we have had no public speculation by either the Speaker or the Governor. However, the revenues for FY 2009 are down more than 10 percent, and the Governor has initiated actions to curtail spending. Some of which I do not agree with, and there are indications that other Representatives would like a say on those cuts.


During the 2009 session we passed House Bill 143, which made changes to the Homeowner Tax Relief Grant program.


From 1998 through 2008, the state appropriated revenues in the budget to provide each homeowner with a credit on their tax bill in the amount of an $8,000 homestead exemption equivalent, worth an average of about $200-300 per homestead. 


Under HB 143, revenues generated by state taxation must increase by 3 percent plus inflation in order for the state to fund the HTRG program in 2009 and future years.  With revenues down, funds will not be allotted for the HTRG credit for the 2009 property tax year.   


It is important to understand that HTRG was never intended to be an ongoing tax credit to local governments, but rather a program to help homeowners when the state can afford to do so. 


Under current economic conditions, we just can’t afford the usual rebate. Our local governments are trying very hard to provide realistic budgets for next year so that any increase of out-of-pocket expenses by homeowners will be minimized.


The House Republican Caucus will meet July 9-12 to discuss current issues and to plan for the 2010 Session of the General Assembly. Additionally, I expect to see population forecasts by the Census Bureau for 2010 and potential redistricting numbers. The National Conference of State Legislatures will provide us with a broader picture when we meet July 20-25.


The most recent estimates of Georgia’s growth put the population at 9.6 million.


This means that each of the 180 members of the Georgia House will have over 50,000 constituents, and each of the 56 Senators will represent in excess of 170,000 constituents.  That is a growth of over 10 percent since the last census. 


A special session will be held in 2011 to restructure Congressional, State House and State Senate districts based on the population distribution found in the 2010 census. 


All work must be completed with Justice Department approval in time for the 2012 elections. 


Some news media are still concerned that the 2009 General Assembly did very little, but I disagree. I went through the general legislation signed into law and found that the House originated 269 bills and the Senate 68.  That was actually more than we did in 2008.  Tough times require appropriate and meaningful legislation to help, not hinder, a speedy recovery.


It’s important that you keep in touch with me on issues that concern you.


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