Your Georgia Desk:
Legislative Week 5 Recap
Sen. Bill Heath (R–Bremen)
It’s hard to believe the 2014 Legislative Session is already past the halfway point. The Georgia Senate has only passed a handful of bills since the beginning of session, but this is a good thing. Adopting fewer bills ensures less government involvement in our everyday lives and is critical to smaller, more efficient government.
Earlier this week, the Senate and House reached an agreement on an aggressive legislative calendar through legislative Day 40 or Sine Die. This calendar will allow the General Assembly to plan more effectively and ensure that legislation is carefully considered and fully deliberated. The calendar gets us finished by March 20, allowing Georgia’s families and businesses to return to normal without fear of what the legislature might do.
Just like any household budget, Georgia’s state budget is dependent on revenue and has unanticipated expenses. Adjustments need to be made periodically, and this is the reason why we amend the current fiscal year budget everylegislative session. We cannot allow deficit spending, and therefore need to review the budget to ensure revenues will sustain the investments in state agencies, programs and infrastructure.
On February 7, 2014, the Senate approved its version of the FY2014 amended budget; recommending $20.2 billion in total state funds. If the House agrees to minor changes made by the Senate during our budget process, the bill will receive final passage and go to the Governor’s desk. If not, the House and Senate will negotiate the minor differences between the versions of the bill.
There will continue to be tough fiscal decisions ahead, but at no time will the basic necessities of Georgians be ignored. Just like in any household, personal or business budget, the most fiscally responsible decisions are also the most difficult ones. However, those decisions are also the ones that are the most likely to bring lasting financial stability.
On another note, I’d like to take a moment to commend the people of this state and the citizens of the 31st Senate District for your response to this week’s winter storm. Even though this widespread winter storm was every bit as treacherous as the storm that hit two weeks ago, the people were prepared and acted responsibly. Instead of venturing out onto the roadways, Georgians heeded the warnings of local and state officials by staying in their homes and making preparations in advance. This response made all the difference in keeping families safe throughout the entire week.
It is also important to remember the countless men and women who worked throughout the night to restore power to countless homes throughout the state. Most of the outages occurred throughout metro Atlanta and the northeast portions of our state, but some were reported right here in the 31st Senate District. As a result of the tireless efforts of Georgia Power and our EMC’s, electricity was quickly restored to the majority of affected areas.
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize the Georgia DOT as well as the Georgia National Guard for working to keep Georgians safe. Through the collaborative effort of citizens and statewide officials working together, we were able to produce a much more efficient response and protect public safety.
As always, I welcome constituents to contact my office at any time with questions and concerns regarding the legislative process or any bills of interest. For more information regarding a specific piece of legislation, you may access the Georgia General Assembly website at http://www.legis.ga.gov/.