Your Washington – GA 6 – Desk
From Congressman Tom Price
Price Statement on CBO Outlook: A Sober Reminder of the Challenges We Face
Today, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its Budget and Economic Outlook, which projects a $468 billion deficit for fiscal year 2015. Annual deficits will stop falling and start rising again in 2017, reaching $1.1 trillion in 2025. According to the CBO, these deficits will add another $9.5 trillion to the national debt by the end of the decade – bringing the total to over $27 trillion.
In response, House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, M.D. (GA-06) issued the following statement:
“Today’s CBO report is a sober reminder of the fiscal and economic challenges we face as a nation. If nothing is done, we will continue down an unsustainable path full of rising annual deficits that will add to an already $18 trillion debt. Our vital health and retirement programs will continue to grow further toward insolvency. Perhaps most disturbing is the projected steady decline in economic growth. This ‘new normal’ is unacceptable, and it will mean less opportunity for American families and job creators now and in the years to come.
Your Georgia Desk
From Senator Tyler Harper
Update from the Capitol
The 2015 Legislative Session is officially underway, and there is much work to be done. With four of the 40 allotted days for session complete, we spent last week passing housekeeping legislation, receiving committee assignments, and listening to Governor Nathan Deal’s State of the State address outline the status of Georgia. Now that we have all of this in order, we are on to business, as the legislature will be addressing transportation and transportation funding, education, tax reform, as well as many other issues this session.
Before legislation can be presented on the Senate floor for a full body vote, it must first be assigned to a committee by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle. Last Tuesday, we received our committee assignments. I was honored to be selected as the Chairman of the Public Safety Committee and Vice Chairman of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee. I will also be the secretary of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee and a member on the Retirement Committee.
On Wednesday, Gov. Deal presented his annual State of the State address to both the House and Senate bodies to report the current and future condition of our state. The State of the State address recounted recent achievements and advised future policies regarding transportation and education.
Your Georgia Desk
Interview Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle
Your Ga Pundit correspondent spoke with Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle on education, jobs, and transportation funding:
Your Georgia Desk
Interview Senator Josh McKoon
Your Ga Pundit correspondent spoke with Senator Josh McKoon moments after he went to the well to refute attacks on the Religious Freedom bill from Better Georgia:
Your Washington GA 3 – Desk
From Congressman Lynn Westmoreland
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to Address Congress
During President Obama’s sixth State of the Union speech he stated “new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails.” This is just another example of how America’s international presence has diminished under the Obama administration and how out of touch he is with our foreign policy. The president claims that negotiations with Iran are “going well” and we should give it more time to develop rather than slapping on economic sanctions. However, Republicans are not going to sit idly by and watch the president make a bad deal with Iran. In giving Iran more time and by not monitoring and sanctioning their country, we give them opportunities to continue developing their nuclear program – a huge threat to American’s national security. I believe that Congress must pass an Iran Sanctions bill.
Following the State of the Union, House Speaker John Boehner took it upon himself to invite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to address a joint session of Congress in the coming months. Although the White House may disagree, I value Netanyahu’s perspective on the threats that Iran poses to not only to the Middle East, but to the entire world. Netanyahu has warned of Iran’s security threat in the Middle East for years and has been a strong supporter of the economic sanctions placed on Iran by Congress.
Your Georgia Desk
From Senator Bruce Thompson
Budget Week 2015
Budget Week at the Capitol has come and gone with joint appropriations meeting with the General Assembly to discuss balancing Georgia’s budget for the rest of this fiscal year and next. The Governor and state agencies delivered presentations and projections of how they suggest the budget be distributed.
There are 39 states, including Georgia, which require balanced budgets to be passed by legislature. The amended budget ensures that expenses are prioritized and unnecessary expenses are eliminated. Once the amended budget has passed, work will begin on the larger 2016 fiscal year budget, which will appropriate taxpayer’s money through June 2016. As legislators, we must work tirelessly to consider every detail of both budgets so we spend our taxpayers’ money in the most efficient manner possible.
The Governor presented projects the state will collect more than $21.1 billion before the fiscal year closes. The Governor’s office projects $21.7 billion in revenues for the 2016 fiscal year. This budget process will unfold over the next 36 legislative days with more information to come.
This Thursday, I was honored to stand in Liberty Plaza with hundreds of supporters for the 2015 March for Life. The rally then march began at the Capitol and ended on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. I was fortunate to be able to attend the event with Rep. Scot Turner, Rep. Wes Cantrell and many other legislators.
After hours of debating and discussing, sadly, last year’s autism bill did not pass into Georgia law. This year, Senate Bill 1 was introduced during the first week of session. The bill is sponsored by my colleague Sen. Charlie Bethel and is a great bill for many Georgians including their families. I support this bill which requires that insurance be provided for children with a wide spectrum of autism related disorders. This is something that I have focused on, and something I plan to continue fighting for during this year’s legislative session.
Next week, we will dive deeper into legislative issues as committee meetings begin and legislative session resumes. I am looking forward to working with my fellow legislators to serve Georgia and members of the 14th District.
Your Georgia Desk
From Senator Steve Gooch
The State of Our State
Governor Deal made it clear during his annual “State of the State” address that Georgia’s economy continues to grow in the aftermath of the worst economic collapse of the 21st century. Thousands of jobs are consistently being created every month, home values are on the rise, and Georgia remains the number one state in the nation to do business. Georgia’s Constitutional requirement that our state operates on a balanced budget remains one of the most—if not THE most—important factor to our economic recovery.
While the recession forced lawmakers to make very difficult budgetary decisions and spending cuts, after years of responsible budgeting on the state level, Georgia’s economic landscape is showing improvement. The increase in state funds from $20.8 billion in FY 2015 to $21.7 billion in FY 2016 is proof of a growing economy and allows our state to reinvest in the areas hurt most by the recession.
Georgia’s education programs continue to see the benefits of an improving economy. Governor Deal’s FY 2016 budget recommendations include $239 billion to fund enrollment growth and training for over 1.72 million K – 12 students and 121,000 teachers and administrators. An additional $280 million has been included to increase instructional days and properly compensate our best educators. (more…)
Your Georgia Desk
From The Senate Majority Caucus
Senate Majority Caucus Announces 2015 Agenda
Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert (R – Athens), Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, and members of the Senate Majority Caucus will hold a press conference today to announce the Senate Majority Caucus 2015 Legislative Agenda. The press conference will convene in room 203 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, immediately upon adjournment of the Rules Committee.
The Republican agenda for the 2015 Session of the Georgia General Assembly will focus on the following five issues:
- Helping young children with autism
- Providing opportunities and breaking down bureaucratic barriers for high school students ready to take college-level courses
- Continuing and expanding the protection of our children
- Pushing economic development and job creation
- Ensuring that the founding principles of our constitutional republic are taught to our students so that they are equipped for self-government and able to maintain their heritage of freedom.
“If you take a look at the bills we are considering most pressing, it should be obvious that the Majority Caucus is focused squarely on the education, health and protection of Georgia’s children,” Sen. Cowsert said. “At the same time, we will work to ensure Georgia remains the best place in the U.S. for business, thereby continuing to push every viable job creation mechanism for the benefit of Georgians across the state.”
Cowsert said this session’s main education bill is a bi-partisan initiative spearheaded by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle that provides options and breaks down bureaucratic barriers for high school students who are ready to enroll in college level courses. Senate Bill 2 would enable a high school student to enroll in a college or university upon successful completion of a college entrance exam. When they complete a degree or certificate program, their college level courses would satisfy high school graduation requirements. Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R – Marietta) will carry the bill with Sen. Freddie Powell-Sims (D – Dawson) and Sen. Bill Cowsert (R – Athens) as co-sponsors. (more…)
The Supreme Court of Georgia held its first meeting on January 26, 1846 at Talbotton, Georgia.
John Sammons Bell was born on January 26, 1914 in Macon, Georgia. He would go on to serve as Chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia, as a Judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals, and as chief judge of the appellate court. He is today best known as the designer of the state flag featuring the Confederate battle flag, which was adopted by the General Assembly in 1956.
On January 26, 2001 a new state flag, first designed by Atlanta architect Cecil Alexander, passed out of committee in the General Assembly by a 4-3 vote and would be voted on later that week. Click here to view the floor debate from 2001.
The list of aspirants for two DeKalb County judicial seats – one in State Court, one in Superior court — has been whittled from 72 to 25, and interviews by the Judicial Nominations Committee are expected to begin this week. Notable among the 25:
State Representative Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven)
Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis
State Senator Ronald Ramsey, Sr. (D-Lithonia)
Former DeKalb County State Court Judge Tony DelCampo
Bob Dallas, who served as Director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety under Gov. Sonny Perdue
The Fulton County Daily Report ran an interview with DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Asha Jackson, who discusses her views on accountability courts, the learning curve for a new judge, and diversity on the bench.
The Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit is often the example pointed to by groups who say there should be more diversity among judicial appointees—and those who defend the Deal administration’s recent picks. That’s because the State and Superior courts are among the most diverse in Georgia.
DeKalb County Superior Court has four black female judges, two white female judges, two white male judges, and two black male judges. The circuit also included the state’s first Latino (Tony DelCampo) and Asian-American (Alvin Wong) state court judges. (Delcampo left the State Court bench in 2011 but has applied for reappointment.)
Jackson said she believes diversity on the bench is important. When the makeup of judges reflects the population, there is inherently more trust in the judicial system, she said.
“But that can mean any number of things,” she said. Race. Gender. Socioeconomic status. Even life experience.
Jackson bristles at the suggestion that diversity is a second-tier consideration and not a primary qualification for being a judge.
“I hear people say, ‘I don’t know if we should sacrifice the quality of a candidate to make sure the bench is diverse.’ The very nature of being a diverse candidate is in and of itself a qualification,” she said. “There is a unique experience that comes along with being a woman or an Asian-American or an African-American or a white American.”
As a DeKalb County resident, I would argue that diversity on the bench might be improved with a Jewish member of the bench. After all, Atlanta is home to one of the nation’s largest Jewish communities and DeKalb hosts a number of congregations and a large number of the state’s Jewish citizens. As a constituent and former consultant to State Rep. Jacobs, if anyone asked my opinion, I’d say he would be a great fit for the bench, though I haven’t spoken to him about the current vacancies and haven’t been his consultant for more than a year.
As a bonus, it would open at least one special election, potentially creating a Christmas (or Hanukkah, if you will) in March or June for folks like me. (more…)
Buddy is a young male Hound/Shepherd mix who is exactly what his name implies – a great buddy! He LOVES people. Buddy has been in a wonderful foster home, and has been introduced to several other dogs and did beautifully with all of them. He chases squirrels and cats outdoors, but interestingly he virtually ignored the cat in a home where he spent a recent weekend.
He’s been working on his leash walking skills, and is making good progress. He does get excited when he sees another animal! Buddy has a lot of energy and needs regular exercise – at least two walks/runs a day.
Buddy’s people skills are excellent – he goes to work with his foster mom nearly everyday and has become the official greeter at her office! It’s been a wonderful socialization opportunity for him.
Buddy will be a wonderful companion. We feel a home without small children is best simply due to his size and exuberance, but an experienced owner with children would be considered. Buddy is available for adoption from Two Tailz K9 ResQ in Roswell, GA.
Doug is a typically playful lab pup who loves nothing more than his ball. He has high energy who would be best placed with an active family. He gets along with most dogs but can be protective of his ball. Otherwise he plays well with four legged friends when no ball is involved. Doug does great with adults and kids! He also has plenty of character and goofiness as most labs are! he is a bundle of fun and provides plenty of laughter. Doug is available for adoption from Two Tailz K9 ResQ Roswell,GA.
Zachary is an adult male Labrador/Terrier mix, the sweetest boy you could ever find. He loves attention and gets along with everyone! His favorite activity is prancing around with a toy in his mouth seeking your attention. After being in flux for several years he has found a loving foster home but desperately needs a permanent home. If you are looking for a sweet, low maintenance loving boy Zach is the dog for you! Please call David Butler @404-597-7948. Zachary is available for adoption from Second Chance Animal Rescue & Adoptions in Roswell,GA.