To our readers: State Senator Buddy Carter (R- Pooler) will be reporting each week during the Legislative Session. The session began January 13, 2014 and is expected to last until the first of March.
Day 10 (Monday, January 27, 2014): Many of the local Mayors and City Council members are in town today as the Georgia Municipal Association had their annual Mayor’s Day at the Capitol this weekend. I was able to come up yesterday and visit with Mayor Harold Fowler and folks from the City of Richmond Hill last night. This morning, I am honored to be the guest of Mayor Mary Warnell and the City of Pembroke for breakfast as we hear from the Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House on the progress of the session thus far. Afterwards, I head over to the Capitol for a caucus meeting at 9:30 before we go into session at 10. Today is a very special day as we honor the Georgia National Guard and thank them for the outstanding work that they do for our state. As an honorary commander for the Combat Readiness Training Center in Savannah, I have an opportunity to work with many of these dedicated guardsman and know first hand how fortunate we are to have them in Georgia. Making the ceremony even more special is the opportunity to see Georgia’s TAG (Adjutant General), Major Gen. Jim Butterworth, who provides outstanding leadership to our Guard and who I had the honor of serving with in the State Senate for many years. The ceremony today becomes very emotional as we visit with deployed Georgia guardsman in Afghanistan via skype and are surprised by the appearance of the son of one of our fellow senators as he informs his Dad that he is fine and that he has been recently awarded a higher rank. While the obviously proud father manages to keep his composure, many of us in the chamber can’t help but shed a tear over this wonderful reunion. Afterwards, I spend the afternoon meeting with the Senate Appropriations Public Safety analyst to review the amended FY14 budget and meet with Mr. Lance Dyer from Bremen to discuss potential legislation regarding synthetic marijuana. Mr. Dyer lost his son, Dakota to an incident involving synthetic marijuana and has dedicated his life to eradicating this illegal substance from our state. I finish up the day with a visit with my good friends from Effingham County who are here for Effingham Day at the Capitol. While it’s always good to see these friendly faces the best part of Effingham Day remains the delicious raisin bread that they bring every year. I love raisin bread!
Day 11 (Tuesday, January 28, 2014): After our morning caucus meeting, we are in at 10AM and I have the honor of introducing our Chaplain of the Day, Dr. Charles Gardner from the First United Methodist Church in Atlanta, which is located near the Capitol. Dr. Gardner is filling in on short notice today and I am asked to introduce him since Amy and I stay near First United Methodist and worship there when we are here on the weekends. As usual, Dr. Gardner does a great job and everyone enjoys meeting him. We only have one bill on the calendar today, SB 298, a bill eliminating the requirement that a signed statement of disability from a doctor be notarized in order to get a special parking decal. This bill came through the committee that I chair, Public Safety, and passes easily. Many of the afternoon committee meetings are being cancelled in anticipation of the inclement weather that is being predicted for this afternoon. Around 12:15 PM the prognosticators are proven right as snow begins to fall and chaos breaks out at the Capitol as everyone is trying to get home before the roads become impassable.
Day 12 (Wednesday, January 29, 2014): We wake up to find Atlanta crippled by the snow and ice storm that hit yesterday. Horror stories are being told by commuters who found the roads to be impassable and the Governor has declared a state of emergency for much of the state. Some people who left work around Noon yesterday are still stranded in their cars this morning although many abandoned their vehicles on the side of the road and decided to walk. The continued freezing temperatures are hindering many relief efforts and the Capitol is closed today. Out of the numerous stories of frustration and difficulty comes one particular heartwarming story of a police officer who helped deliver a baby on I-285. Making the story even more meaningful is the fact that it is the police officers birthday and the baby is given the name Grace. The work of the emergency personnel during this horrendous experience is truly appreciated.
Day 13 (Thursday, January 30, 2014): The state of emergency is extended today as abandoned vehicles continue to clog the highways and people are trying to cope with this weather disaster. Unfortunately, the event of the year- Savannah Chatham Day- scheduled for tonight is cancelled and probably won’t be rescheduled this year. Although understood, this is indeed disappointing news. Because I stay close to the Capitol I am able to walk to work and spend the day in a lonely Capitol building catching up on work and trying to get ahead. The weather disaster in our state is garnering national attention and the Governor and Mayor of Atlanta are under intense scrutiny for their handling of the situation. As the temperature slowly rises, conditions are improving and hopefully things will be back to normal soon.
Day 14 (Friday, January 31, 2014): Finally we’re back in business as we caucus this morning at 8AM and most people are able to make it back in. We go into session at 10AM with most of the speeches during points of personal privilege calling for changes in the states storm response procedures. The only bill on the calendar today is HB 664 providing for a new charter for the City of Avalon and it passes unanimously. Trying to catch up for missing the last two days, members of the Appropriations committee meet during the afternoon to make final changes to the amended FY14 budget. Upon adjournment most of us are glad to head to our homes after an unprecedented week of ice, snow and chaos in our State’s Capitol city.
Senator Buddy Carter can be reached at 421-B State Capitol, 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.