The blog.


VIDEO – Senate in a Minute: Day 11 with Sen. Charlie Bethel

Your Georgia Desk

From The Senate Press Office and Senator Charlie Bethel

Senate in a Minute: Day 11


Rep. Tom Price: Opening Statement – The President’s FY 2016 Budget

Your Washington – GA 6 – Desk

From Congressman Tom Price


Price’s Opening Statement: The President’s FY 2016 Budget

As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning, everyone, and thanks for being here today.

As we discussed in last week’s hearing with the CBO director, there is no question our nation is on a fiscal and economic path that is unsustainable. Our national debt has topped $18 trillion and is growing ever larger. Vital programs that folks rely on are heading toward insolvency. And our economy isn’t growing nearly as fast as it should be. If we maintain this status quo, we’re going to have a future of less opportunity and less security for the American people.

So, it’s clear we need to move in a different direction and that requires new ideas that can actually deliver real, positive results. Unfortunately, what the president has proposed in his budget fails on many levels to solve the challenges we face.

Director Donovan, thank you for being here today. I look forward to your testimony and explanation of the president’s reasoning behind his budget proposal, because, to be honest, my colleagues and I, on this committee, have serious concerns with what the president has put forward.

A lot of what we have here in the president’s budget is just more of the same policies that have been tried over the past few years and have led us to our current state of high, and soon to be rising again, deficits and an underperforming economy. The president is proposing a $2.1 trillion tax increase and a $2.4 trillion spending increase. He’s suggesting that Washington ought to take more from American families and job creators in order to spend more in Washington. That’s a formula that hasn’t worked in the past, and it’s not going to start working now. Every dollar that is taken from Americans in taxes – and every dollar borrowed – is a dollar that can’t be spent on – paying for your kid’s education, buying a car, paying your rent, paying your mortgage, buying a house. All the things the American people want to do – are made more difficult, because of the president’s budget.

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VIDEO – Sen. Johnny Isakson: Urges Senate Democrats to End Filibuster of Department of Homeland Security Funding Bill

Your Washington Desk

From Senator Johnny Isakson

Isakson Calls on Senate Democrats to End Filibuster on Homeland Security Funding Bill, Check President’s Executive Overreach on Immigration

‘Let’s get off the sidelines… and send the president a bill …that says we want a secure border, we want an immigration policy that works and we want to once again be a government of checks and balances, not a government of executive orders.’

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today urged Senate Democratic colleagues to end their filibuster of the Department of Homeland Security funding measure. The bill would hold the president accountable for his lawless executive amnesty, while also providing funding for the Department of Homeland Security currently set to expire on Feb. 27, 2015.

The House-passed Homeland Security appropriations bill failed to advance in the Senate yesterday in a 51 to 48 vote with every Senate Democrat opposing the measure, preventing the Senate to debate the legislation. The procedural motion needed 60 votes to pass.

Isakson delivered the following remarks on the floor of the Senate today:

“I think it’s ironic that on the same day that the Islamic state tragically took the life of a Jordanian pilot that the United States Senate failed to get a 60-vote majority to vote to move to a motion to proceed to debate the most important issue that’s facing the United States of America.

“I agree with my colleagues that have talked about the danger of Islamic terrorism, the danger of porous borders, all the dangers they talked about, but you can’t solve those problems unless you get it to the floor and you debate it.

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Sen. David Perdue: Cosponsors Balanced Budget Amendment

Your Washington Desk

From Senator David Perdue

David Perdue Country2

Senator David Perdue Cosponsors Balanced Budget Amendment

Continues to Advance Georgians’ Top Priorities In U.S. Senate

U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) today, along with Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and 52 other Senators, cosponsored a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the Constitution. The Balanced Budget Amendment would require total expenditures for any fiscal year to not exceed total receipts for that fiscal year. Senator Perdue continues to advance Georgians’ top priorities and has already cosponsored legislation in support of building the Keystone Pipeline, rolling back regulations, fully repealing Obamacare, advancing the Fair Tax, and implementing term limits.

“Georgians sent me to the Senate to help end the dysfunction in Washington and to get our economy back on track. In turn, I promised Georgians that I would immediately cut this outrageous spending, start solving our debt crisis, and finally balance the budget. That’s why I am proud to cosponsor a Balanced Budget Amendment to Constitutionally require the federal government to get its fiscal house in order.

“The United States is in a full-blown fiscal crisis, and we are handing our kids and grandkids $18 trillion of debt, as well as tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities down the road. Yet year after year, Washington is perfectly comfortable with giant budget deficits. For the sake of our economic and national security, and the future of our country, this has to stop.

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Adoptable Georgia Dogs for February 4, 2014

Cane is an adult male Dogue de Bordeaux, an extra-large breed who is available for adoption from the Atlanta Humane Society in Alpharetta, Ga.

His previous owners returned him because he was fine with their children, but he was not comfortable with other kids, or their cats. His new home should only have adults over the age of 18. He is very loving to adults he knows and is comfortable with. He needs a home without cats or other dogs, as he also has tendencies to food aggression with dogs (not people).

The Dogue de Bordeaux is a guardian breed, which means dogs that tend toward wariness, and Cane needs a stable environment with experienced humans who have done their homework. This is not a dog to take to the dog park, or have as a status symbol. Cane should not need a lot of exercise, as he has some mild hip displaysia (which may need treatment in the future but does not seem to cause him pain now). He needs a firm (not severe) hand and clear boundaries in a home without strangers coming in and out. The breed drools and snores. Research the breed carefully and come meet Cane.


Sadie is a 4-year-old spayed hound/retriever mix, a sweet, active girl who was returned because her previous owners did not have time for her. Sady is energetic and playful, and will do best in a home with a yard, and maybe even another dog to play with. Yard or not, she will need daily walks and a good amount of exercise to be her best. She enjoys romping with other dogs and enjoys the company of people. She is a bit jumpy at first, so she may be too much dog for small children, but otherwise seems like she would fit in well with an active family (bring the whole family, including existing dogs, to meet her). Sady may be too excited by cats.

Sady seems pretty housetrained, but it’s always best to prepare for a refresher course, since she has never lived in your home before. If you are looking for an adult dog who can make your family complete, come take a look at this girl. She is a bit zaftig, and could benefit from losing a few pounds. Sady is current on her vaccinations at this time. She has been microchipped and dewormed.

Sady is available for adoption from the Atlanta Humane Society in Alpharetta, Ga.


Wilson is a young male Lab mix, possibly with some Hound also. He is about a year old and is available for adoption from You Lucky Dog Rescue in Alpharetta, Ga.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for February 4, 2015

On February 4, 1789, George Washington was unanimously elected by the Electoral College as the first President of the United States; Washington’s runner-up John Adams served as Vice President. Washington would repeat the feat four years later on February 4, 1793.

On February 4, 1801, John Marshall took office as Chief Justice of the United States. Marshall continued to hold the post of Secretary of State until March 4th. In one of American history’s rich ironies, Marshall, who served at the same time in the judicial and legislative branches of the federal government, would write the Court’s opinion in Marbury v. Madison, establishing the supremacy of the Supreme Court in matters of applying the Constitution through judicial review and establishing the doctrine of separation of powers. Marshall would serve during the terms of six Presidents.

On February 4, 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress convened in Montgomery, Alabama, where it would draft a Constitution for the Confederate States of America, beginning with a near-verbatim copy of the United States Constitution.

On January 4, 1976, the Georgia Senate approved a resolution previously passed by the State House proposing a Constitutional Amendment to allow Governors of Georgia to serve two consecutive terms and voters approved in November 1976. Then-Governor George Busbee won reelection in November 1978, and since then Democrat Roy Barnes is the only Georgia Governor to not win reelection. Thus we are able to say, “Four More Years for Governor and Mrs. Deal.”

Happy birthday to Congressman Sanford Bishop, who shares this date with the late Rosa Parks (b. 1913), German theologian Dietrich Bonhoffer (b. 1906) and Facebook, which turns eleven years old today.

Irregularly Scheduled Programming


Tonight at 7 PM, I’ll be joining host Bill Nigut and fellow panelists Liz Flowers and Greg Bluestein to discuss today’s events at the Georgia General Assembly. Tune in on your local GPB station.

My latest column at makes the case for calling March First 2016 the “Waffle House Primary,” instead of the “SEC Primary” because social conservative voters may be “scattered, smothered, and covered,” splitting their votes between several candidates, while the establishment coalesces behind someone like Jeb Bush. Will this leave room for a pro-marijuana legalization candidate? Check it out, please.

WABE notes that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has a “Waffle House Index,” which uses the status of local WaHos to gauge the severity of conditions in an area.

The 24-hour restaurant chain prides itself on serving its customers at all hours of the day, seven days a week. And FEMA caught on to this. They discovered that if a Waffle House was closed after a storm, then that meant things were really bad.

“It just doesn’t happen where Waffle House is normally shut down,” said Philip Strouse, FEMA’s private sector liaison for the Southeast.

Strouse said Waffle Houses are able to bounce back relatively quickly after a natural disaster, and have a good sense of what their statuses are in a community.

“They’re sort of the canary in the coal mine if you will,” he said.

Green means the restaurant is open as usual, yellow means it’s on a limited menu, and red means the restaurant’s closed.

Under the Gold Dome Today

8:00am – 9:00am House Natural Resources & Env – 506 CLOB
12:00pm – 1:00pm Senate Rules upon adjournment – 450 Capitol
1:00pm – 2:00pm Senate Insurance & Labor – Cancelled – 125 CAP
1:00pm – 2:00pm Senate HHS – Pharmacy Sub – Senate Mezzanine 1
1:00pm – 2:00pm Senate Public Safety – Cancelled – 310 CLOB
1:00pm – 2:00pm Senate Education – 307 CLOB
1:00pm – 2:00pm Senate Approp – Criminal Just Comm – 341 CAP
1:00pm – 2:00pm Senate Approp – Fiscal Mgmt Sub – 310 CLOB
1:30pm – 2:30pm Setzler Sub of House Judy NC – 132 Capitol
2:00pm – 3:00pm Senate Approp – Public Safety – 341 CAP
2:00pm – 3:00pm House Budget & Fiscal Oversight – 506 CLOB
2:00pm – 3:00pm House State Properties – Cancelled – 403 CAP
2:00pm – 3:00pm House Education – 606 CLOB
2:00pm – 3:00pm Senate Finance – Senate Mezzanine 1
2:30pm – 3:30pm Senate Approp – Agriculture Sub – 307 CLOB
3:00pm – 4:00pm Senate Transportation – Cancelled – 450 CAP
3:00pm – 4:00pm House Education – 606 CLOB
3:00pm – 4:00pm Senate State Institututions & Prop – 123 CAP
3:00pm – 4:00pm House Judy Fleming Sub – 216 CAP
3:00pm – 4:00pm House Joint Retirement – 403 CAP
3:00pm – 4:00pm Senate Judiciary Non-Civil – 307 CLOB
3:30pm – 4:30pm Senate Approp – Gen. Govt Sub – 310 CLOB
3:30pm – 4:30pm Senate Approp – Transportation Sub – 341 CAP
4:00pm – 5:00pm Senate Regulated Industries – Cancelled – 310 CLOB
4:00pm – 5:00pm House Jacobs Sub of Judy Civil – 132 CAP
4:00pm – 5:00pm Senate State & Local Govt – Senate Mezzanine 1

Today, the Senate will discuss Senate Bill 53 by Sen. Greg Kirk, sunseting part of an earlier act with respect to licensed professional counselors. The State House will take up House Bill 57 by State Rep. Mike Dudgeon to allow some third-party financing for consumer solar arrays.Continue Reading..


VIDEO – Senate in a Minute: Day 10 with Sen. Greg Kirk

Your Georgia Desk

From The Senate Press Office and Senator Greg Kirk

Senate in a Minute: Day 10


Sen. Judson Hill: 2015 Session Weekly Update # 3

Your Georgia Desk

From Senator Judson Hill

Judson - Bio Photo 2013


Greetings from your state Capitol  

We settled into the 3rd week of the 2015 Session. All pending bills die at the end of every 2 year term; therefore, the Senate committees have only a few pending new filed bills meaning in Chamber Session days will be shorter until more bills are filed. A bill has until legislative Day 30 to pass one Chamber so our focus will not turn to House bills for several more weeks. Below is a list of notable legislation that has been introduced in the Senate and is under deliberation in their respective committees.

The legislature continues to hold hearings on the proposed state budgets in various Appropriations subcommittees. We will adjust both the current FY 2015 ($20.8 billion) budget as well as consider and pass the FY 2016 ($21.1 billion) budget. This 2015-16 GA State Budget link takes you to documents to view a more detailed description of Governor Deal’s proposed 2015 Amended and 2016 state budget.

The Georgia State Budget Process

The Amended FY2015 State budgeting process ensures Georgia closes out the fiscal year with a balanced budget on June 30th in order to begin the new fiscal year on July 1st.

After consideration and passage of the Amended 2015 Budget, which considers the second half of the fiscal year, the General Assembly will work on the fiscal year 2016 budget, commonly called the “big budget” because it will determine spending and programs hrough June of 2016.

Several FY 2016 Budget Highlights presented in the Governor’s Budget-

1.      $280 million for the K-12 QBE Formula is intended for systems to pass on to teachers as furlough replacement or pay raises for teachers.

2.      $16.7 million in Lottery funds for a 3% increase in the HOPE scholarship in public and private colleges to keep up with tuition increases.

3.      $139.8 million to fund the Annual Required Contribution for Employees Retirement, Teachers Retirement and Public School Employees Retirement Systems.

4.      $149.1 million in new funds for Medicaid growth and Affordable Care Act compliance, and voluntary case management for the Age, Blind and Disabled population.  Offset by reductions totaling $179.4 million in PeachCare and Medicaid costs and an increase in the federal match.

5.      $239.6 million to fund growth in K-12 enrollment and teacher pay scale recognizing 1.35% increase in enrollment this past year.  Georgia’s schools now educate 1.72 million students.

6.      $800 million in bonds including $230.0 million for K-12 school construction, $197.7 million for Regents projects, and $19.8 million for Technical Colleges.

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Sen. Jeff Mullis: Update from the Gold Dome

Your Georgia Desk

From Senator Jeff Mullis 


Update from the Gold Dome

The General Assembly took a break from the regular legislative schedule during the week of January 19 – 23 to attend budget briefings and review the funding requests presented by state agencies. While the Governor’s budget recommendations are certainly a guiding framework, it is up to the House and Senate to finalize the general FY 2016 and the amended FY 2015 appropriations bills—right down to the very last line item. While the amended FY 2015 bill has already passed the House and is now undergoing review in the Senate, the general FY 2016 budget will take much longer to evaluate.

Past years of responsible budgeting, even during tough financial times, has allowed Georgia’s economy to rebound faster than many other states. The proposed budget increase—from $20.8 billion in FY 2015 to $21.7 billion in FY 2016—is proof that Georgia is continuing to grow and invest in the future of our state. 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.

The HOPE scholarship program allows Georgia college students to receive a quality, affordable education in their home state, but the program has seen a sharp decrease in funding in recent years. Governor Deal has recommended, for the second year straight, a 3 percent increase in the award amount for HOPE scholarships and grants. This will be funded through $16.7 million in additional lottery funds. Nearly $19.7 million in bonds has been recommended for new capital projects, as well as renovations and new equipment, throughout the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).

Improving Georgia’s transportation infrastructure remains a top priority for both the Governor and the General Assembly. Approximately $17.5 million in additional motor fuel funds have been allotted for road and bridge projects, based on anticipated collections.

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Sen. Frank Ginn: Taking Care of Georgia Citizens

Your Georgia Desk

From Senator Frank Ginn

Sen. Frank Ginn

Taking Care of Georgia Citizens

The eighth day of the 2015 legislative session saw a significant piece of legislation pass through the Georgia State Senate. I am proud to say that with unanimous consent, Senate Bill 1 passed the Senate and is now headed for consideration in the House. Specifically, the legislation seeks new guidelines for the coverage of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in children up to six years old, including diagnostics and medically necessary treatments or therapies. Georgia will become the 36th state in the nation to require some form of autism insurance coverage if SB 1 receives final approval by the General Assembly and the Governor. I believe there is a huge payback to our citizens for the small cost of coverage. This early diagnosis and intervention can help a child to become a productive citizen instead of becoming a ward of the state.

In order to remain nationally and globally competitive, as well as maintain the safety of our roadways, Georgia must take immediate and significant steps to fund transportation investment. This week, our House counterparts unveiled legislation that will help fund future transportation infrastructure. Our economy is mobility driven—we have the busiest passenger airport in the world, as well as the fourth largest container port in the country. I plan to spend time analyzing this proposal, while also considering other legislative options. I would love to hear from my constituents about how you would like to address our transportation needs. Creating a responsible transportation plan is of utmost priority to lawmakers under the Gold Dome during the 2015 legislative session. What we do—perhaps more importantly, what we don’t do—will echo throughout our state for decades to come.

Some of you have contacted me about Governor Deal’s budget recommendations, in particular, eliminating coverage for approximately 11,500 school cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and other employees who work less than 30 hours per week. In response to the Governor’s proposal, the House passed their version of the amended FY 2015 budget last week; specifically including language supporting the idea of keeping health coverage for these valued staff members. These individuals play a vital role in the quality of our children’s education, and should be compensated for their important jobs. Bus drivers safely transport our children to and from school, and cafeteria workers feed our children. Our school systems could not operate without these employees.

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