VANCE SMITH COLUMN: Back at the Capitol

Published 6:11 pm Friday, February 3, 2023

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By Vance Smith
Represents Georgia House District 138

The 2023 Session of the Georgia General Assembly began Jan. 9 at 10 a.m. with the legislative branch being sworn in.

Having been out of the House for 10 years, thanks to you I returned in 2019 and this will be my fifth session back. Our first week in session dealt with organizational matters and various assignments, which are made by House leadership. We elected a new Speaker, Representative Jon Burns (R-Newington), who is a successful businessman from Effingham County. Jon was elected in 2005 and recently served as the Majority Leader in the House. Jon and his wife, Dayle, are good friends of Michele and me. Also in the first week, the governor and Constitutional officers took their oaths of office. 

I am one of the 180 members in the State House of Representatives, and this year we have 43 new members. That is a substantial number, but, to me it is like a breath of fresh air. They bring new ideas and new ways of approaching state issues. You can also imagine the amount of work going on behind the scenes to move people’s offices, desks on the floor, and to assign members to committees.

The Committee on Assignment, under the direction of the new Speaker of the House, has allowed me to serve on two additional committees. I have been assigned to the Urban Affairs Committee, a newly formed committee, and I am very fortunate to have been appointed as Vice Chairman of the Transportation & Infrastructure Subcommittee on Appropriations. I have always been interested in transportation because I see it as the backbone of our state and nation. Moving people and goods from Point A to point B is vital to individuals and our economy. I will continue to serve as the Vice Chairman of the Natural Resources & Environment and as a member of Economic Development & Tourism, Motor Vehicles, Transportation, and Ways & Means Committees. I enjoy each of these and consider the policy decisions to be a very important factor in the success of our state and citizens.  The second week was entirely budget hearing. The new House Appropriations Chairman Representative Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) and the Senate Appropriations Chairman Senator Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) host joint committee meetings all week for the Commissioners and departmental representatives to come and present the amended budget for this year and their 2024 budget. The budget document presented to us by the governor is a little over $32 billion. 

Our budget cycle runs from July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024. 

This past week more legislation has been dropped in the hopper, and committees are beginning to schedule meetings so the pace will begin to pick up. Some 1000 bills have been drafted already. 

Governor Kemp gave his State of the State Wednesday, Jan. 25 and in attendance were two friends from home, the Honorable Ben Land, Judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals, and Andrew, my grandson. Andrew sat in the Gallery during Governor Kemp’s remarks, and afterwards we had our picture taken with Judge Land. 

I always enjoy hearing from constituents in my district and enjoy seeing those who can visit the Capitol. Please give me a heads up by calling, texting, or emailing to let me know when you are on your way so I can be on the lookout. It has been a good start to the Session and remember to email me your thoughts and comments. I appreciate the honor of serving you in the Georgia House. My office number is 404-656-0254 and email is