Several serious pieces of legislation were not passed into law during the 2011 legislative session.
Here's a small list of some of the more important ones currently under review for final approval during the 2012 session.
Zero-based budgeting: Georgia uses the continuing budget method of determining what the next budget will be. This means that the current department budgets are either added to or subtracted from to get the next budget. During the past 11 years, I have never seen a complete department budget.
Zero-based budgeting requires that every item in the budget be justified through an in-depth analysis of how each dollar is spent on behalf of the citizens of Georgia. The 40-day session does not allow enough time to contemplate a complete state budget. Over the past five sessions bills have been introduced to cycle through the departments every three to six years.
The current initiative nearly found its way through to the governor's desk this year, making it all the way to a conference committee between House and Senate members on the 40th day.
However, with so much activity surrounding the last day of session, the conferees chose patience rather than a hasty decision on such a crucial shift in how Georgia prepares its budget.
We understand that families have to examine their budgets, asking if what and how they spent their money several years ago makes sense in today's climate. The state should hold itself to the same standard, and this legislation will do just that.
Juvenile code rewrite: This rewrite is similar in scope to the evidence code revision passed in this year's session. It will substantially revise and modernize provisions relating to juvenile proceedings.
Transit governance: The passage of 2010's Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act created a Joint Transit Governance Study Commission. The investigation by the commission began in earnest last fall, and its final recommendations will be made no later than Aug. 1, 2011.
The commission is charged with examining ways to inject conservative principles into the planning, operation and oversight of mass transit. It is also charged with incorporating a statewide perspective to overall governance as the asset of "transit transportation" continues to grow in importance. The 2012 session will see legislation that arranges the commission's findings into legislative language.
Small business investment pools: As the General Assembly continues to study ways to create jobs and dig our way out of the recession, our eyes have turned to other states. Twelve states have created "small business investment pools."
Legislation was introduced to create a private capital fund totaling $125 million. It is a proven economic development tool already used in other states to help small local businesses gain access to capital. Access to capital remains a key issue for small business as the economy rebounds from the recent/current recession.
Small businesses eligible for the fund must be headquartered in Georgia with less than 100 employees. Funding for the private capital fund comes from tax credits which the state grants to entities who invest in Georgia businesses.
I don't see any of the above topics being included in the redistricting special session scheduled for August, but they are continuing to be studied and will resurface in the 2012 legislative session.
At 5:30 p.m. June 9 there will be a town hall meeting at the Lumpkin County Park & Recreation Center. State Sen. Steve Gooch and I will talk about the 2011 session and try to answer any questions you may have. We hope to see you there.
Rep. Amos Amerson can be reached at 689 N. Chestatee St., Dahlonega, GA 30533: phone (706) 864-6589; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Or contact Gerald Lewy at (706) 344-7788.