Sen. Tyler Harper: Update From The Capitol


Sen. Tyler Harper: Update From The Capitol

Your Georgia Desk:

HARPER: Update from the Capitol

Sen Tyler harper


By: Sen. Tyler Harper (R- Ocilla)

Every January, legislators from across the state convene at the Georgia State Capitol to set the course for Georgia’s future. The morning meetings come early and the nights spent revising legislation are long, but any time spent making our great state a better place is time well spent. Because 2014 is the second half of a legislative biennial term, bills that did not pass in 2013 are still eligible for consideration in addition to the new bills introduced this year – which means legislators have a significant pile of work (literally, when you think about the stacks of printed bills on our desks…) ahead of us.

That said, legislators quickly got down to work on Monday, January 13, the first day of the legislative session. 2014 will be the year of a shorter, more efficient session – and more importantly – will save Georgia taxpayers a substantial amount of money in per diem and temporary workers salary costs.

A shift in election qualifying dates has further encouraged a shorter legislative session and brought the passage of the first piece of legislation to the Senate floor in 2014. House Bill 310 passed the Senate by substitute and if enacted, will revise the schedule of state and local candidate elections to correspond with federal candidate election dates. Maintaining two separate election calendars places a heavy burden on state resources and would likely require a costly update to technology infrastructure. By combining the two calendars into one streamlined schedule, the state will be able conserve both state resources and taxpayer dollars.

Governor Deal also presented his annual “State of the State” address during the first week of session, highlighting the steps our state has taken to preserve our state’s fiscally responsible reputation. As a result, Georgia has added approximately 217,000 new jobs to our state in the past three years; the state unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in five years; our “rainy day fund” has grown by 518 percent over the past three years; and Georgia is one of only ten states that still maintains a AAA bond rating from all three major agencies. The federal government doesn’t even have that distinction. Furthermore, Site Selection Magazine rated Georgia as the number one state to do business in as a result of our fiscally conservative policies that encourage economic growth.

Although Georgia still faces its share of challenges, the proposed budgets for FY 2014 Amended and FY 2015 provide a positive outlook towards the future. Governor Deal has proposed a $20.8 billion budget in FY 2015, including a $547 millionfunding increase for K-12 and Higher Education initiatives. I look forward to sharing a closer and more in-depth look at Governor Deal’s budget proposals and Georgia’s economic outlook in my next column.

Senate committees have already started meeting to review bills moving through the legislative process, and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue serving as Vice Chair of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee. I am very excited that Senate Leadership has given me a new position as the Secretary of the Public Safety Committee.   I look forward to diving right into my work on this essential committee throughout the 2014 Legislative Session. I also serve on the Natural Resources and Environment Committee as well as the Retirement Committee. This year, we will continue our work to pass pro-business legislation that encourages economic investment in Georgia for all industries and businesses, both large and small.

I was especially privileged to host Okefenokee Occasion on Tuesday.  It was an honor to welcome South Georgia to the Gold Dome and celebrate the truly unique habitat we call home.  Folks from all over the state got to enjoy great food and experience of South Georgia first hand in Atlanta. Thank you to everyone who helped make this wonderful event happen; this event wouldn’t have been possible without your hard work and dedication. I encourage groups who are interested in visiting the Capitol to call my office at 404.463.5263 to set up a date and time. I look forward to personally welcoming you to the Capitol!

I am honored and humbled that you have placed your faith in me to represent District 7’s best interests at the Georgia State Capitol. Please feel free to contact my office at any time to talk about pending legislation or address other concerns in our district – my door and phone lines are always open.

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