The legislative session has ended, and Gov. Nathan Deal has now either signed or vetoed every bill that passed the General Assembly.
I was joined at the Capitol on Tuesday of last week by members of the Sex Offender Registration Review Board. We were present for the signing ceremony when the governor signed House Bill 122 into law. This was the first bill that I had introduced, so it made the experience special for me and the group.
This bill will allow the sex offender board to have access to critical information they need to keep our state's young people safe.
Since the session has ended I have been asked many questions about my first experience serving in the General Assembly.
The number one question that is asked of me is, "What has surprised you the most about your first session?"
I have reflected on this a great deal and have concluded that the biggest surprise has been the lack of information that most of the citizens in our state have about their state government and the amount of incorrect information that is distributed.
This has reinforced the idea that I have developed over the course of 23 years of public service that communication is the number one key to success.
I made an early commitment to make myself available to the constituents of the 9th State House District. Many people were shocked when I published my personal cell phone number and then actually returned all of my own phone calls.
However, I felt then, and even feel more strongly now, that it is important for you to have access to your public officials.
It is important for you to have easy access to correct information to keep informed about what is occurring in Atlanta. It is just as important for me to keep in close contact with you to know what your thoughts and feelings are on various issues as I represent you in your state government. My number has not changed, and I encourage you to continue to call on me.
Prior to the session starting, Sen. Steve Gooch and I held town hall meetings in both Dawson and Lumpkin counties to listen to issues from citizens.
During the session I held a joint town hall meeting with Rep. Geoff Duncan in Forsyth County to update the residents there and to get their input on a wide variety of topics.
I plan to hold several of these meetings during the remainder of the year and prior to session starting back in January.
I was also pleased to be able to hold weekly informational breakfasts each Saturday morning during session. We rotated between Lumpkin and Dawson counties, and they were well attended.
This gave me an opportunity to have personal two-way communication with many of you. It allowed me to be able to discuss legislation that was being considered and to get feedback and thoughts from constituents.
Now that session is over for the year I plan to hold a breakfast meeting every couple of months to keep the lines of communication open.
Our electronic newsletter has proven to be another effective communication tool in getting information out. We e-mailed it out weekly during session to everyone on our e-mail distribution list. I plan to continue to provide updates through the newsletter every couple of weeks until session starts back in January.
If you are not receiving it and would like to, call or e-mail me. I am happy to add you to our distribution list.
Over the past few weeks since session has concluded, I have spoken at Kiwanis Clubs, Rotary Clubs, Republican Party meetings, Tea Party meetings and many other civic groups.
I have been asked to speak to college classes and to high school classes. Last week, I had a great time watching and then speaking to more than 150 middle school students at Dawson County Middle School as they debated bills in Y-Club.
Their advisor, Nikki Harvey, is doing an outstanding job with the program, and I was honored to be involved.
I was also thrilled to host the Dahlonega Woman's Club for a tour of the capitol last week. This fine group of ladies spent the day touring and learning more about their capitol and how their government works. If a group you are involved in has a similar interest, feel free to contact me.
I plan to continue to work hard to make myself available to you and to address your concerns.
I encourage you to contact me and to express your thoughts at anytime, because I know that communication is the key to success.
I am honored to serve as your representative at the State Capitol, and I look forward to working with each of you to make our state a better place to live, to work and to raise our children.
Rep. Kevin Tanner can be reached on his cell phone at (678) 776-5059, at the Capitol at (404) 656-0152 or by e-mail at email@example.com.