Sen. Bill Heath: Gold Dome Update: Week 9

 Your Georgia Desk:

Gold Dome Update: Week 9

Sen. Bill Heath (R–Bremen)

The Georgia General Assembly is approaching the very last days of the 2014 Legislative Session. Although many people simply refer to the last day as Day 40, it is also known as Sine Die, Latin for indefinitelyThe last day of the legislative session can be very long, but it is also full of tradition.

During the remaining two days of session – and in some cases, the last few hours of session – bills that will significantly impact Georgians statewide will be debated and adopted in both Chambers at a rapid pace. Continue reading

Sen. Johnny Isakson: Weekly Newsletter

Your Washington Desk:

A Weekly Newsletter from Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)

From Senator Johnny Isakson:

This week, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014, which would protect millions of homeowners from being hit by huge flood insurance premium rate hikes.

Specifically, H.R.3370, will mitigate the unintended, unaffordable annual flood insurance premium increases felt by many homeowners that were included in the Biggert-Waters law enacted in 2012. Continue reading

Sen. Steve Gooch: Tackling the Tough Topics in the Final Days of the Legislative Session

Your Georgia Desk:

Tackling the Tough Topics in the Final Days of the Legislative Session

By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

One of the greatest things about serving District 51 is the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of Georgians statewide. It has been both an honor and a privilege to vote on bills that create growth opportunities for businesses, improve the safety and structure of our roadways, protect our basic Constitutional rights and increase opportunities for our brightest students to attend college at an affordable cost. I am the most proud when legislation is passed that will positively impact our state for generations to come.

Not all of the bills that come up each session are widely supported. Although debate is a normal part of the legislative review process, some bills are downright contentious. Continue reading

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland: Supports ENFORCE the Law Act

Your Washington – GA 3 – Desk:

From Lynn Westmoreland:

Westmoreland Supports ENFORCE the Law Act
Last week, the House passed H. R. 4138, the Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments of the Law (ENFORCE the Law) Act. ENFORCE the Law Act puts in place a procedure to allow the House or Senate to authorize a lawsuit against the Executive Branch for failing to faithfully execute the laws. It will rein in the growing overreach by the Executive Branch and restore balance to the separation of powers set forth by our Constitution. I am a cosponsor and strong supporter of this bill.
It has been a constant uphill battle for Congress and the Supreme Court to make sure that this administration follows the Constitution. If President Obama dislikes a law, he ignores it or goes around it. Continue reading

LNG export project moves forward | savannahnow.com

Plans continue for $1.5 billion-worth of development at Elba Island to allow the liquefied natural gas import facility to reverse its processes and export the fuel. Southern LNG and Elba Liquefaction Co. filed a formal application for the project with federal regulators earlier this week.

The facility currently imports and stores liquefied natural gas on a private island in the Savannah River about five miles downstream from downtown Savannah. On Monday the companies requested permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build and operate a natural gas liquefaction facility made up of 10 modular, movable units.

The units, able to liquefy about 2.5 million metric tons of LNG per year for export, are to be constructed and placed into service in two phases.

If the plans are approved, the current ability to import about 40-50 ship tankers full of LNG a year will be turned around to allow Elba to export about the same amount of gas, though it will retain its import capability. Instead of vaporized natural gas flowing only inland through pipelines, it will also be able to flow to the coast through those same pipelines and be liquefied at the Savannah River facility before being stored in its five storage tanks and eventually loaded onto tanker ships for export.

via LNG export project moves forward | savannahnow.com.

Obama to sign flood insurance relief | savannahnow.com

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is set to sign into law a bipartisan bill relieving homeowners living in flood-prone neighborhoods from big increases in their insurance bills.

The legislation, which cleared Congress on Thursday, reverses much of a 2012 overhaul of the government’s much-criticized flood insurance program after angry homeowners facing sharp premium hikes protested.

The Senate’s 72-22 vote sent the House-drafted measure to Obama. White House officials said he’ll sign it.

via Obama to sign flood insurance relief | savannahnow.com.

Buddy Carter accused of having conflict of interest | savannahnow.com

Walter Jones, with Morris News, gives a good, unbiased look at a complicated topic.

ATLANTA — The frontrunner in the race for the open congressional seat along the coast is under attack for sponsoring a bill as a legislator that could benefit his industry.

An Atlanta television station aired a story Wednesday night addressing Sen. Buddy Carter’s Senate Bill 408 that would add requirements on insurance companies which could make mail-order pharmacies lose some of their price advantage. Carter, a Pooler Republican who owns three drug stores, is the top fundraiser and the leader in polls for the First District’s six-man GOP primary to replace U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston.

By morning, political partisans had emailed links to the story to reporters across the state. In it, Carter is shown on camera saying “it’s borderline” when asked if his sponsorship was a conflict of interest.

Thursday, he was certain it wasn’t.

“It was not a conflict of interest at all. This is just another example of the biased media attacking conservatives,” he told Morris News.

Carter said the bill is good for consumers. It would require insurance companies to update more often the maximum price they will pay for specific medicines.

Brick-and-mortar pharmacies like Carter owns operate with less of a profit margin than mail-order giants which can absorb drug makers’ prices increases better than the independent stores. He said quicker adjustments in the maximum price to reflect rises from drug makers would put the small stores on a more even footing with their large competitors.

But according to the senator, his stores would benefit no more than any other.

That is an important distinction, according to other legislators. Rules of the House and Senate prohibit lawmakers from doing anything that would benefit them or their families directly.

“A bill that benefits all pharmacies is not a problem,” said Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans.

But with part-time legislators who have full-time jobs in the private sector, they would miss many votes if they avoided every bill that affects them or their industry.

“You can’t have a part-time legislature and expect us to work and not be involved with bills on subjects we know the most about,” Harbin said.

For instance, many legislators serve on the boards of local banks, leaving few who could vote on bank legislation under a strict interpretation of conflict prohibitions.

“This came up for us many times,” said Rick Thompson, a former director of the state ethics commission. “There is absolutely nothing in the law that says you can’t do that.”

via Buddy Carter accused of having conflict of interest | savannahnow.com.