Sen. Tommie Williams: Taking Life’s Lessons to the Legislature


Sen. Tommie Williams: Taking Life’s Lessons to the Legislature

Your Georgia Desk

From Senator Tommie Williams

Tommie Williams

Taking Life’s Lessons to the Legislature

Life’s experiences always change our perspective. The past couple of years I’ve had the opportunity to see things from some new perspectives, and it has had a positive effect on the issues I will take to the legislature.

I am not sure how it happened so quickly, but this year I will turn 60.  If I couldn’t tell by my birth certificate, I certainly can by my body.  In the past year, I have had two sinus surgeries and my gall bladder removed.  I won’t go into the details of these surgeries and the pain and complications prior to and after them, but I will tell you these experiences have given me a new appreciation for people who suffer with health issues. While my personal experience with our local hospital, staff and doctors was exceptional, I can sympathize with constituents that have to regularly deal with insurance, hospitals and finding healthcare physicians.

In recent years, healthcare issues have become a regular topic in the legislature.  This session, one issue we will readdress is the fight between kids that suffer with autism and insurance companies who are unwilling to cover these kids’ needs.  Health insurance companies love mandated coverage paid by the consumer or the government, but they do not like to be told what they have to cover as a benefit.  Autism is an unavoidable health issue that should be covered.  We will also deal with Certificate of Need laws to improve healthcare access.  Expanding Medicaid will be another hot topic. Medicaid is about 25 percent of our budget and growing. Many people don’t realize that Georgia’s budget is almost entirely comprised of k 12 education, Medicaid, the prison system, and the courts. There is very little waist in our current budget, and Georgia has one of the most financially stable governments in the U.S.

When I first began serving in the Senate, I thought I had a good perspective on education. I had taught in the public school system and had some experience teaching in Israel and China.  Now I have children of my own.  What a life lesson children can be.  Over the last several months, I have been helping my seven-year-old son Jack with his spelling.  Yes, I am 60 with a seven-year-old, and honestly, I am not a good speller. Fortunately, I have spell check and a wife that is a terrific speller.  Before Jack, I liked to joke that a person who can only spell a word one way must not be a creative speller.  That will, of course, not help Jack make a 100 on his spelling test.  I really feel for kids that have to learn to spell in English, and decipher when to use ight or t, ei or ie, kn or n, long and short vowels, exceptions and silent letters.  Add to this a southern accent, and spelling becomes a real chore.  The life lesson to take to the legislature is not to rewrite the English language, but determine what can be done about the thousands of children in homes tonight without dads to help with spelling.  Every decision we make at the legislature should encourage the restoration of the family.

Education is always a subject of great interest in the legislature.  Usually the debates are focused on funding rather than policies. One policy change that I would like to focus on is moving foreign language learning to the elementary level. It is a fact that kids learn language better when they are young.  If languages were taught earlier, we could replace high school foreign language learning with programs like Rosetta Stone to meet university language requirements and move at least half of the teachers to the elementary school.  Most countries that are teaching their population English are doing so in elementary schools.

There are a few of life’s lessons that I have learned at the legislature.  One is to not make decisions in order to get re-elected.  I have learned that if I make decisions and votes based on conviction and principle, then I can reasonably explain those positions to my constituency.  Voters can see pretentiousness from a mile away.

The most important life lesson that I have learned in the legislature is that the person that really needs my listening ear the most is the one that can’t afford a lobbyist.

Thanks you for your support.  If I can be of help to your please call my office at 912-526-7444.

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