Valdosta Daily Times

February 1, 2010

Legislative Session Update

January 25 - January 29, 2010

by Amy Carter

As a member of the Appropriations committee, I had the opportunity to examine the state's budget last week. The House reconvened this week to continue working on some of the other major issues affecting Georgia. While passing a balanced state budget is still our number one priority, many other vital issues remain at the forefront during this year's legislative session. Among those are securing a sustainable water supply for all Georgians, helping small businesses grow, creating jobs, and ensuring we make the necessary improvements to our state's ethics laws.

In 2008, the House passed sweeping legislation in an effort to create a more sustainable water supply for the state. While that has helped, the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee continues to look for more ways to insure a sufficient water supply for our growing state. This week the full House met to hear from experts regarding the state's status in the current litigation over access to water resources between Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, as well as to discuss legislation to promote water conservation.

Under the leadership of Speaker David Ralston, the House has committed itself to helping small businesses grow and create jobs for Georgians. We now have a new committee specifically designed for that purpose: the Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation. This committee will hear and review legislation intended to promote small business and job creation before sending it to the House floor for debate. This is a committee that I proudly serve on so that I may better serve Valdosta. I hope you'll share your ideas with me on this or any other committee.

This week we also heard about exciting new legislation from Representative Tom Graves. He, along with other members of the state House, introduced the Jobs, Opportunity, and Business Success Act of 2010. The legislation is designed to stimulate the state's economy by providing tax credits and incentives to create, expand, and attract new businesses in Georgia. Some of these initiatives include a $2,400 tax credit for Georgia companies that hire difficult to employ individuals who are currently receiving unemployment benefits, the creation of the "Year for Georgia Entrepreneurs" which would allow Georgians the opportunity to start a new business with no state fees, and a fifty percent reduction of the capital gains tax for all Georgia taxpayers.

Finally I would like you to know that I am aware of the sacrifices many of you are making due to the current economic conditions. Just as you and your family must balance your budget, so must the state of Georgia. Over the past year, that has meant making difficult decisions, including furloughs for nearly all state employees. This sacrifice has not gone unnoticed. This is why I am voluntarily choosing to take an additional six more furlough days on top of the five furlough days I have already taken as your state legislator along with the three days as a Lowndes County Schools employee. It would be wrong to expect other state employees to make a sacrifice that I am not willing to ask of myself. Despite these furlough days, I will continue to be your state representative 365 days a year. Please feel free to call me with any questions or comments that you might have regarding our state.

I am eagerly anticipating presenting my first bill of the 2010 legislative session this week. I am hopeful that it will be brought to the Floor of the House for a vote. For a little background of HB 651--current law requires the Georgia Board of Education to "send" the sex offender list to all schools in the state each year. The DOE sends this list via a disk in envelope to each school at a cost of over $7,600 (for the 2009-10 school year). HB 651 allows the department to share this list with schools via an electronic link, instead of having to physically mail the list. Not only will it save the state dollars that we can certainly put to better use elsewhere, but it allows the schools to have a more current list. This list is provided by the GBI, which updates its website list twice daily.

On Wednesday we will enjoy our annual Lowndes County Bird Supper at the Depot. It is certainly the highlight of my legislative year, allowing me to spotlight my community to my colleagues in the legislature. I am also excitedly anticipating serving as a host to the Leadership Lowndes Class of 2010 on Thursday for its annual Legislative Day.

I want to send a few shout outs to:

Cliff Landis, VSU Technology Reference Librarian, for his extremely generous personal financial relief of $10,000 for Haitian relief efforts

Sarah Jackson on her retirement from SGMC as Clinical Nutrition Manager after 37 years

Georgia Power employees, who helped spruce up the South Georgia House of Hope at its annual "A Day On For A Day Off"

Our Moody Air Force Base Airmen who are in Haiti providing relief for the decimated country

Local ladies golf celebrity Dori Carter for winning one of the 2009 GSGA Tommy Barnes Awards

VSU's newest Hall of Fame recipients: Dr. Lamar Pearson, Michael Terry, Randy Fisher, Nicky Balanis, Kim Southall, and Bobby McDonald

Did You Know?

Georgia ranks 50th in State Revenues per Capita with $4,772 dollars as compared to Alaska, with $18,337 dollars (ranked first). Information provided by the Tax Foundation, published 2009, Washington, DC.