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Sen. Steve Gooch: The First Bill of 2015 Passes the Georgia Senate

Your Georgia Desk

From Senator Steve Gooch

Steve Gooch

The First Bill of 2015 Passes the Georgia Senate

The third week 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 under 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 to require some form of autism insurance coverage if SB 1 receives final approval by the General Assembly and the Governor.

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 increase its investment in transportation infrastructure. This week, our House counterparts unveiled legislation that will adequately fund our transportation infrastructure. I plan to spend a great deal of time analyzing this proposal, while also considering other legislative options.  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.

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Sen. John Albers: This Week Under the Gold Dome

Your Georgia Desk

From Senator John Albers

John Albers

This Week Under the Gold Dome

The 2015 Legislative Session has been off to a quick start with more than 100 Senate Resolutions having been read and adopted and more that 70 Senate Bills being read on the senate floor. This week has been very exciting for me.

On January 26, SR 42 was presented to and adopted by the General Assembly as we recognized members of the Georgia National Guard for their unwavering commitment to our nation’s freedom. This came at a very special time in my family’s life, as my oldest son, Will, left for basic training that same day.  I cannot begin to express how proud I am of not only my son, but of all the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe at home.

I was honored to stand in front of my colleagues and friends to present SR 56, commending January 28, 2015 as Autism Awareness Day. I was joined by Ava Bullard, the inspiration behind Ava’s Law, who visited the chamber to voice her concerns about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). She encouraged all of the legislators to vote “yes” on Senate Bill 1, a bill which will provide up to $35,000 in insurance coverage for children six years and under who have ASD.

The Senate celebrated a bi-partisan victory on Thursday as we unanimously passed SB 1. If you support this legislation, I strongly encourage you to reach out to your representatives and urge them to vote ‘Yes’. This legislation will ensure children and families affected by ASD will be able to receive the care and support they need.

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Sen. Johnny Isakson & David Perdue: Cosponsor Bill to Protect Americans from IRS Political Targeting

Your Washington Desk

From Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue 


Isakson, Perdue Cosponsor Bill to Protect Americans from IRS Political Targeting

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and David Perdue, R-Ga., this week cosponsored legislation to stop the Internal Revenue Service from implementing its proposal to severely curtail the First Amendment rights of citizen-led 501(c)(4) groups.

The Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act was introduced by U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and is cosponsored by 33 additional senators. The bill would stop further attempts by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to exploit bureaucratic loopholes to restrict the free speech rights of the same types of tax-exempt social welfare organizations victimized in the IRS political targeting scandal.

“Our Founding Fathers put freedom of speech in the First Amendment to the Constitution for a reason, and I am proud to join my colleagues in ensuring that our Constitutional rights are preserved for groups of all political beliefs,” said Senator Isakson, who is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees the IRS. “I will continue to do all that I can to end the corruption and politicization we’ve seen within the IRS.”

“Far too many people, including Georgians, have been targeted by the IRS for their personal beliefs, and this legislation will put a permanent stop to it,” said Senator Perdue. “The IRS’s abuse of power is emblematic of what’s wrong with Washington today: the federal government has lost sight of what our Founders intended. It’s a sad day for the American people and our Constitution that we even need to create legislation to reinforce the protection of our right to free speech and free thought. With conviction, I am a cosponsor of this this bill because we must do everything we can to ensure that Americans are guaranteed their Constitutional rights.”

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Gov. Mike Huckabee at FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, Ga

Yesterday at FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, Georgia, I spoke to Governor Mike Huckabee on when he’ll announce whether he’s running for President, the effect of an “SEC Primary” and grits versus hashbrowns at Waffle House.



Gingrey appointed to Georgia World Congress Center board |

ATLANTA — Former congressman Phil Gingrey has been appointed to the board overseeing construction of a new Atlanta Falcons stadium.

Gov. Nathan Deal‘s office made the announcement on Friday. Gingrey represented Georgia’s 11th District until 2015. The Marietta Republican made an unsuccessful bid for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in 2014, opting not to run for the congressional seat.

Gingrey appointed to Georgia World Congress Center board |


Mitt Romney bows out of GOP presidential race over potential for political injury – The Washington Post

Mitt Romney’s exploration of a third presidential campaign ended Friday after three tumultuous weeks of deliberations that led him to conclude that, while he might emerge with the Republican nomination again in 2016, he might be so badly wounded in the process that he would have trouble defeating Hillary Rodham Clinton in a general election.

Romney’s sudden decision to declare his interest had been prompted by his concerns over rival Jeb Bush’s aggressive moves to poach from his 2012 coalition, according to intimates. It was fueled further by a mountain of polling data commissioned earlier for one of his donors — suggesting Romney was in the strongest position of any Republican.

But by the end of last weekend, Romney had made the call, according to those familiar with the deliberations. He sat on it for a few days to assure himself that not running was the right thing to do for himself and his party before making his announcement Friday. He bowed out in a call to supporters still convinced he was as well-qualified as anyone in the party to be president.

His decision, he said, was aimed at giving other, lesser-known candidates the opportunity to emerge and eventually prosper. “After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I’ve decided it is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee,” Romney said.

via Mitt Romney bows out of GOP presidential race over potential for political injury – The Washington Post.


Lindsey Graham officially launches presidential exploratory committee – The Washington Post

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham on Thursday announced the formal launch of an exploratory committee to consider a 2016 bid for the White House, adding another candidate to an already crowded field of potential GOP presidential candidates.

The committee, called “Security through Strength,” has been described by Graham as a “testing-the-waters” committee to help explore the viability of his candidacy. Graham announced the formal creation of the committee on Fox News.

“I’m going to take a look at the presidential primary on the Republican side. We’ll have an organization up and running today,” Graham told Fox News. “This organization will allow people to donate money and their time and resources to see if there is a pathway forward for me.”

Graham has previously indicated his interested in a presidential run and announced several weeks ago that he intended to launch a formal committee. His most vocal backer has been Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a close friend who has openly encouraged him to make a bid.

via Lindsey Graham officially launches presidential exploratory committee – The Washington Post.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 30, 2015

Today’s historical moments below combine to show some of the major influences on Georgia politics and governance since her founding, and how the same conflicts have played out across the world, from Northern Ireland to India, to stages of rock and roll shows.

On January 30, 1788, the Georgia legislature passed a resolution calling for a state Constitutional Convention in Augusta to adopt a state Constitution that conformed to the new Constitution of the United States.

On January 30, 1862, the United States launced its first ironclad warship, USS Monitor.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882 in Hyde Park, New York. In 1942, Roosevelt ordered Japanese-Americans on the west coast of the United States into concentration camps, leaving German and Italian Americans free.

On January 30, 1935, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. protested segregated elevators at the Fulton County Courthouse. If you’re stuck at home, maybe you’d like to take a moment to read one of the best essays I’ve ever seen on the true impact that Rev. King had.

On January 30, 1948, Mohandas K. Gandhi was assassinated.

1920 Georgia Flag

On January 30, 1956, six members of the Georgia State House of Representatives introduced House Bill 98 to replace the red and white stripes on Georgia’s flag (above) with a Confederate battle flag (below). That same day, a bomb was thrown at the Birmingham, AL home of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1956 Georgia Flag

January 30, 1972 is remembered as Bloody Sunday in commemoration of the shooting of 26 civilians by British troops in Northern Ireland.

On January 30, 2001, the Georgia State Senate passed a house bill changing the state flag from the 1956 version to one that aggregated the State Seal and five former state flags, pictured below.


Georgia General Assembly

The Georgia legislature stands in recess today so that members from outside Atlanta can return home – I imagine some of them might be hearing the thoughts of local voters and elected officials on the House Transportation Plan.

What is being called the House Transportation Plan has been introduced in the House as House Bill 170.

Several times in recent years, Governor Deal has acted to suspend planned increases in the gas tax – that power appears to be taken away or at least seriously curtailed in §45-12-22(b) of House Bill 170, which reads,

Unless there has been a state of emergency declaration by the Governor, the Governor shall not suspend or modify in any manner the collection of any rate of prepaid state taxes….Any suspension or modification of any rate of prepaid state taxes under this subsection by the Governor shall be effective only until the next meeting of the General Assembly which must ratify such suspension or modification by a two-thirds’ vote of both chambers.

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Adoptable Georgia Dogs for January 30, 2015




















Rami is a Dachshund/Pit bull mix who has become so internet famous that the Moultrie-Colquitt County Humane Society has been fielding applications to adopt him. His videos are hilarious.














Nat is said to be a four-month old Pit Bull mix, though he looks to me like a Lab mix. He gets along with everybody, but needs some leash training. Nat is available for adoption from Moultrie-Colquitt County Humane Society.




Astor is a beautiful 2-year old female Hound mix, a real sweetheart who hugs and kisses people. She walks well on a leash and is available for adoption from Moultrie-Colquitt County Humane Society.

Honor Sentinels and the Bainbridge-Decatur County Humane Society will collaborate to train shelter dogs as service animals for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or traumatic brain injuries, according to the Bainbridge Post-Searchlight.

Each day, 22 veterans take their own lives in 48 states. The figures are not kept by California or Texas, both large population states, which would undoubtedly raise the figures even higher if they kept track.

West said it is their goal to provide service dogs to the local veterans who may be suffering from the symptoms of panic attacks, anxiety, depression, flashbacks, agoraphobia, irritability, associated with PTSD.

West said that while Congress is currently studying the effects a service dog has on a vet, it has been documented that a dog serves as a good companion, going with the Vet wherever he or she goes, giving comfort and ease from anxiety.

They plan to supply the dogs free from our local shelter, which took in 1938 stray dogs last year. Once training begins, the dogs cannot return to the shelter, so the group is looking for a building to house the dogs during training until such time as the veteran is able to adopt them. Plans are to work with four veteran/dog teams at a time.


Sen. Bill Cowsert: Republican Priorities on Fast Track

Your Georgia Desk

From Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert 

Sen Bill Cowsert


Republican Priorities on Fast Track

On Monday, Georgia Senate Republicans released our legislative agenda for this year’s session of the Georgia General Assembly. When Republicans gathered to discuss the most pressing issues facing our state, we determined quickly that our legislative priorities should focus squarely on the education, health, and protection of Georgia’s children. Likewise, to better ensure these children will have a prosperous future, we are resolved to continue our efforts toward economic development and job creation – this year that includes working to bolster our transportation infrastructure.

The Republican Caucus has developed a five-point plan for the 2015 session:

  1. Helping young children with autism
  2. Providing college/technical school opportunities for high school students
  3. Continuing and expanding the protection of our children
  4. Promoting economic development and job creation
  5. Teaching the founding principles of our constitutional republic to our students

Our first priority this session was to assist children in receiving the diagnosis and therapy they need to treat autism. Today, 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with some form of autism—a true epidemic. This bill will require insurance companies to cover analysis, treatment, and counseling for autistic children under six years old; joining 38 other states with similar laws.

Early treatment has shown remarkable improvement rates for these children and can help put them in regular classrooms, steering them away from much more costly special education programs. This is especially important for children on the lower end of the autistic spectrum.  A report from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that 47 percent of autistic children who receive early treatment can achieve “typical function.” The increased insurance cost to cover early autism treatment is only $0.31 per health insurance member, per month. This small investment will easily be recovered through reductions in educational and medical expenditures for each child who benefits from early treatment. To ensure that no undue burden is imposed on businesses, the insurance requirement will not apply to companies with 10 or fewer employees and will be waived if it results in more than a 1 percent increase in premiums. We simply cannot afford to deny these children early treatment coverage.

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