This week saw the completion of the first nine days of the 2013 legislative session in the Georgia General Assembly.
Now that any new chairmen and committee members have been announced and assigned, the committee process is full speed ahead with many pieces of legislation awaiting action. As session progresses, all legislation that is introduced must be assigned to the appropriate committee, and all pending legislation must then be vetted through the committee process (and usually sub-committee as well) and read three times in the House before it can come to vote before the whole chamber.
On Monday, the House passed House Resolution 50, which set the legislative calendar for the first twenty-nine legislative days of the session, taking us through March 5th.
This week multiple pieces of local legislation from legislators around the state were also heard on the House floor; however, none that affects our district. There were other measures passed by the House this week. House Bill 55 passed 164 to 1 to allow a superior court judge who has jurisdiction over a particular crime under investigation to issue a warrant with statewide application. The bill is of particular importance to law enforcement as they seek to track and locate drug dealers and drug traffickers. House Bill 57 also passed 167 to 1. This measure updates the list of prohibited drugs to include the most recent components used in synthetic marijuana. Senate Bill 24, the Hospital Medicaid Financing Program Act, passed the House 147 to 18 on Friday. This bill would authorize the Department of Community Health to establish, assess, and discontinue provider payments to hospitals. The extension of this fee, passed in 2010 and set to expire this year, will fill a $689 million gap in the Medicaid budget. With the passage of SB24 by both the House and the Senate, it now heads to Governor Deal for his signature into law.
This week the Georgia legislature also celebrated National Guard Day. As a former Alabama Air National Guard Officer and flight crew member, I have tremendous respect for the men and women who serve in the National Guard. Not only do they respond when we have disasters in Georgia or around the United States, their commitment and dedication is critical to our national defense as they deploy and serve around the world. House members took a moment of silence to recognize our fallen soldiers; the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while defending our freedoms. Also present and honored were the many family members of these fallen heroes. Our Adjutant General for Georgia, Jim Butterworth, also spoke to the General Assembly in honor of National Guard Day. It is important for us to remember that while we enjoy on a daily basis too many freedoms and opportunities to mention, it is the troops that are still fighting on our behalf that truly deserve our thanks.
Ethics reform is a topic that is sure to be discussed throughout the session. Speaker Ralston has sponsored House Bill 142, which went through the first sub-committee hearing on Thursday. As currently written, the legislation would ban all lobbyist gifts, and greatly limit those groups and individuals allowed to lobby without first registering with the state and paying the corresponding registration fee. This legislation will be discussed comprehensively to ensure that individuals are not denied their First Amendment right to free speech. As debate occurs, the bill will likely be amended multiple times during the committee process prior to being voted on by the full House.
The Georgia General Assembly will continue day ten of the 2013 Legislative Session on Monday, February 4th. Please contact me with your ideas and opinions or if I can be of service to you in anyway. It is your input and common sense ideas that develop into the best legislation and potentially becomes the laws of our State. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-5087 or write to me at: State Rep. Randy Nix, 18 Capitol Square, Suite 402 CLOB State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.