The Georgia General Assembly convenes Monday for the 2005 legislative session, with the potential of being one of the most difficult sessions our local delegation has ever faced.

Issues such as tort reform and Medicaid cuts loom large, along with balancing a budget that has been a highly contentious issue, particularly in light of the fact that the state is reporting substantial increases in revenues.

Even though the assembly is now controlled by a Republican majority, our Democratic delegation faces some tough battles drawn not just on party lines, but increasingly across rural boundaries. The phrase referring to "two Georgias" has become a part of the legislative lexicon.

Metro Atlanta, comprised of 20 counties of uncontrolled urban sprawl, is a revenue hungry beast casting a giant shadow across our state. How to feed this beast while maintaining services in the rest of the state is becoming more and more of an obstacle, with funds increasingly diverted from the poorest counties to the richest, as evidenced this year by the redefinition of the counties available for grants from the OneGeorgia Authority's cash laden tobacco fund that were supposed to be earmarked solely for rural development.

While Lowndes County is fortunate to have received strong support and funding for transportation, services, and education improvements over the years, other rural counties in the state have not been as fortunate. With the shift in power, we can only hope that this strong support will continue, although perhaps this is as good a time as any to remind Gov. Perdue that he won Lowndes County.

Although in the minority, our legislators are seasoned and have the experience to weather this session. Let's hope party politics diminishes quickly as the session gets under way and our state's senators and representatives can act in the best interests of the one, and only, Georgia.

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