To our readers: State Senator Buddy Carter (R- Pooler) will be reporting each week during the Legislative Session. The session began January 9, 2012 and is expected to last until the latter days of March. .
Day 31 (Monday, March 12, 2012): My day starts off with an early morning meeting with the Director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, Tricia Pridemore, as we discuss legislation that I will be carrying in the Senate. Workforce Development is working to turn our state’s unskilled labor force into skilled workers that can meet the demands of today’s employers.
On the days we are in session, we have a Doctor of the Day who assists the Capitol nurse in providing any healthcare needs we may have. Today we are honored to have Dr. Keith Cobb, an internist with SouthCoast Medical in Savannah helping us. Besides being a fine physician, Dr. Cobb is also the author of The Grief Survival Handbook, which was recently picked as a top read by WORLD magazine.
Two of the three bills we have on the calendar today, HB 48 authorizing local ad valorem Freeport exemptions for inventory with voter approval and HB 175 establishing the “Online Clearinghouse Act” creating a system to allow local school systems and charter schools to share their computer-based courses with students in other districts and charter schools, pass easily. However, HB 110 which authorizes counties and municipalities to establish foreclosure and vacant real property registries, generates 2 hours of debate before finally passing.
Before we adjourn, we again take up the FY 12 amended budget that the appropriations committees of both chambers have been working on since the start of the session. Having finally reached an agreement between the two chambers, we pass the budget and it will now go to the Governor’s desk for his signature.
Day 32 (Tuesday, March 13, 2012): I am proud to be wearing my green blazer today as we are set to welcome the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee to the Capitol. Before we go into session, I present HB 897 to the Senate Economic Development committee. This is a bit unusual for a Senator to present a House bill to a Senate committee but the House sponsor is unable to be present so I handle this responsibility.
While in session we have quite a few special presentations but none as special as when the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee enters the chamber with bagpipes playing. The sea of green from Savannah is always a welcome site at the Capitol and my Senate colleagues and I are proud to have them here today.
All four bills that we pass out today are non controversial making for a short session. HB 895 expands the GBI’s duties to provide information to the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board while HB 729 updates the Georgia Code to reflect and adopt annual changes in the Federal IRS code. The two other bills, HB 642 and HB 805, are related as they both deal with abolishing the State Personnel Administration and transferring certain functions to the Department of Administrative Services.
The afternoon is full of committee meetings including a marathon 3 hour meeting of the Regulated Industries Committee where we pass out HB 1146, the Governor’s legislation switching rehab services programs, including the Vocational Rehab (VR) program to a stand-alone agency attached to the Department of Human Services (DHS) for administrative purposes. During the meeting, I have to leave on several occasions to attend other meetings where I am presenting legislation, making for a very hectic afternoon.
Day 33 (Wednesday, March 14, 2012): My luck with House committees continues today as I am successful in passing SB 416, dealing with electronic prescriptions and prior approvals for drugs not covered by insurance, out of the House Insurance Committee. As we head into session today, we have three bills on the calendar.
Two bills, HB 713 delaying the implementation of some college and career readiness initiatives until 2013, and HB 886, bringing state chartered banks in line with federally chartered banks in regards to credit exposure in derivative transactions, both pass easily. HB 706, however is a different story. This “clean-up” bill, as we often refer to bills updating certain code sections, deals with Title 20 of the Elementary and Secondary Education code. These changes are based upon the recommendations of the Student Finance Study Commission which has been reviewing this area for the past year. While the changes in this bill are generally technical, anytime a code section is opened we can expect a number of amendments to be offered on the floor.
Many legislators are always waiting for this type of opportunity and today is no exception as we have six separate amendments to consider. And while only one amendment passes, there is much debate and time spent on the others before they are finally defeated. After a Senate Appropriations meeting, I present two more of my bills to House committees, keeping my record in tack by passing both. I also have the opportunity this afternoon to meet privately with Governor Deal to discuss Chatham County as well as Senate issues.
Senator Buddy Carter can be reached at Coverdell Legislative Office Building (C.L.O.B.) Room 301-A, Atlanta, GA, 30334. His Capitol office number is 404-656-5109. You can connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/buddycarterga or follow him on Twitter @Buddy_Carter.