State Representative Howard Maxwell (R-District 17), and I, State Representative Paulette Braddock (R-District 19), returned to the Gold Dome, along with our fellow colleagues in the House of Representatives for the 2013 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly, which convened on Monday, January14th. Since this was the first day of a new term, all 180 members of the Georgia House of Representatives were sworn into office and soon after cast our first vote on the House floor for the
election of the Speaker of the House. After hearing the nominations and speeches, Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) was re-elected Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives. Next, we elected our Speaker Pro Tem, Rep. Jan Jones (R-Milton), and other House officers.
On Thursday, January 17th, the House and Senate convened in the House chamber for a joint session to hear Governor Nathan Deal give the State of the State
Address. This annual speech before the legislature, judiciary, special guests and the public gives the governor the opportunity to convey his or her assessment of the condition of our state government and its people. It usually
contains a strong emphasis on the state budget, but this year Gov. Deal also chose to focus specifically on economic development, public safety, and education as priorities in his remarks to the General Assembly.
Concerning economic development, Gov. Deal said the state is still strong due to growing employment numbers, increased job opportunities, revenue growth, and the expanding prestige of the state in the international
market. This positive news came on the heels of tax and regulation reforms passed by the House during last year’s legislative session, which have made the state more attractive to job creators. As a result of those reforms, which we hope to continue this year, Georgia currently has its lowest unemployment rate in nearly four years, and has been ranked in the top five for business climate by Site Selection Magazine.
For public safety, Gov. Deal plans to better use taxpayers’ dollars by emphasizing community-based, non confinement correctional methods for low-risk offenders as
an alternative to regional and state youth centers. Gov. Deal also said he will propose legislation to minimize the number of annual boating fatalities by decreasing the legal blood alcohol level permitted while driving a boat and
placing age limits and educational requirements on young boat operators.
Governor Deal also addressed education during the State of the State address, noting that although most state agencies have seen an average 3 percent budget cut, K-12
education will be awarded $156 million in additional funding for enrollment growth in K-12 schools. While this additional funding is needed for schools, it will not solve all issues facing our state’s education system. For this reason,
the Governor is working with the General Assembly to modernize the way the state spends in this area, which will help stop poor education outcomes and result in more students graduating and finding a job.
In addition to starting session and hearing the State of the State address, my fellow state representatives and I received our committee and office assignments for the 2013 Legislative Session. I was assigned the position of
Vice Chairman of Science & Technology. I am also a member of the following committees: Economic Development & Tourism, Juvenile Justice, Small
Business Development, and Special Rules. Rep Howard Maxwell was assigned the position of Chairman of Regulated Industries. He was also assigned a member of
the following committees: Appropriations, Education, Insurance, and Retirement.
If you reside within District 19, and have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Lauren Talley at my Capitol Office, 404-656-0177. If you have any questions or concerns and reside within District 17, please feel free to
contact Julie Jordan in Rep. Howard Maxwell’s office at 404-656-5143.