The 2014 legislative session came to an end March 20, when the House and Senate completed the 40th and final legislative day.
The last day of session is known as "Sine Die," a Latin term meaning "without assigning a day for further meeting."
Being the final day of the legislative session, we worked late into the night to ensure the passage of important legislation related to issues like education, criminal justice and public safety.
There are several key legislative accomplishments that I want to bring to your attention.
One of the most important bills we passed this session was House Bill 744, which establishes the state budget for Fiscal Year 2015.
As the only piece of legislation that we are constitutionally required to pass, the Fiscal Year 2015 budget will guide all state spending from July 1 to June 30, 2015.
Going into the last week of the session, I still had three bills that I had authored waiting in the Senate for consideration on the floor.
One of the bills was House Bill 741; better known as the "Sludge Bill."
The idea for HB 741 started from concerns within our district relating to the fact that local authorities and citizens had no real say in where the solid byproduct from a waste water treatment plant, known as sludge, could be placed. The EPD could issue a permit to land apply this product without taking into consideration surrounding land use or holding a public hearing within the community to solicit public input.
Over the past year I worked closely with EPD, the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia and community leaders to develop a bill that would attempt to address the issue.
Last Tuesday, House Bill 741 passed the Senate and is heading to Gov. Nathan Deal for his consideration.
If signed into law, it will allow local zoning and land use ordinances to be taken into consideration prior to the EPD issuing a permit to land apply sludge. It would also require that a public hearing be held prior to the permit being considered in the county or city where the land is located.
Two other bills that I authored that passed the House had also not yet been considered by the Senate going into the final week of session, House Bill 870 and House Resolution 1083.
HR 1083 would allow Georgia voters to consider amending a constitutional amendment that passed in 1998 that created the Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Commission Fund.
The change would allow a surcharge on reckless driving convictions to be used to help fund the commission.
The commission assists those that have received a brain or spinal injury with a once in a life time maximum amount of $15,000.
The money can be used to equip someone's home or vehicle to be handicap accessible, used to purchase software that allows a paraplegic to communicate or for other purposes approved by the commission.
HB 897 is the bill that would implement the collection of the money, if the voters approve the change in November.
The commission does not receive any taxpayer dollars to operate and this would not change under this new provision. Both of these bills successfully passed the Senate last week.
Prior to "Crossover Day" I had authored six bills that had passed the House. With the passage of these three bills last week, all six of my bills are on the way to the governor to become law.
It is a humbling experience to work on legislation for months and then to see it pass overwhelmingly in both chambers. I am looking forward to attending the ceremony and witnessing the governor sign these measures into law.
This year's session moved swiftly, but I believe it was a productive one.
I was blessed to be able to have my 12-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, Page for me on day 40.
She was on the House floor with the other Pages to witness sine die at midnight last Thursday.
This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for her, and she had a great time. I am truly grateful to the citizens of the 9th State House District for allowing me to serve as your representative. I will continue to work hard to make sure that your voice is heard at the Capitol. I realize that the seat I hold is not mine, but it belongs to each of you.
I held my session wrap up breakfast March 22 in Dahlonega at the Wagon Wheel. Due to spring break weekend next Saturday, I plan to hold my next breakfast at 9 a.m. April 5 at Ryan's in Dawsonville.
With the future of all the bills that passed both chambers now in the hands of the governor, the General Assembly's 2014 legislative session has adjourned.
Although session is over, I hope that you will continue to contact me with any questions or concerns that you might have regarding your state government.
Rep. Kevin Tanner can be reached on his cell phone at (678) 776-5059, at the Capitol at (404) 656-0152 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.