Day 3 (Jan. 24): According to our state’s constitution, we start our legislative session on the second Monday of every January. The governor gives his State of the State address during the first week and at that time presents his budget proposal to the full legislature.
The next week is reserved for the Appropriations Committees of both the House and Senate to meet and review the budget. The governor starts the process off by briefly recapping his proposed budget then, over a period of three days, agency heads present their respective budgets and answer questions of legislators. As we went into session today, we had a better idea of what to expect in the budget process.
While not much business was conducted in the Chamber today, there was much excitement at the Capitol as we welcomed mayors and city council members from across the state for the Georgia Municipal Associations annual Mayor’s Day. We are also excited to welcome the good folks from back home for Effingham Day.
Day 4 (Jan. 25): We began the day with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Eggs and Issues breakfast at the World Congress Center as we heard from the speaker, lieutenant governor and governor on what they consider to be the major issues coming up this session.
As we went into session today, we had our first debate of the year as we adopt a resolution for our housekeeping rules. Although usually adopted without fanfare, this year’s resolution contained a few changes that stir up the ire of the minority party. Although never referred to directly during the debate, the central issue involves this year’s upcoming redistricting process and who will be in charge of drawing the new maps.
Day 5 (Jan. 26): The day started with a meeting of the Chatham County delegation to discuss local issues. While not much business was conducted today during session, most of our day was consumed by committee meetings.
I am excited because today I chaired my first meeting of the Senate State Institutions and Property Committee. This committee handles all legislation concerning the construction and maintenance of buildings, lands and other property owned or managed by the state. Our responsibilities primarily are oversight of the Department of Corrections, which runs our prison system, and the State Properties Commission.
As is the case in any management position, the key is to surround yourself with good people, and we are fortunate to have Commissioner Brian Owens and Commissioner Steve Stancil overseeing these two departments. Both gentlemen are regarded to be among the best in our state in their respective roles.
Day 6 (Jan. 27): As is the case every year, excitement filled the air at the Capitol today as we anxiously awaited the Savannah-Chatham annual seafood fest tonight. Although it is wonderful to see so many people from the Savannah area at the Capitol, I spent most of the day trying to fill the requests of my colleagues in the legislature with their ticket needs. Without question a ticket to this event is the hottest item in town.
We finally get down to some serious business today in the Senate as we took up a veto override of SB1 from last year. SB1, the zero-based budgeting bill, was vetoed last year by former Gov. Sonny Perdue even though it received near unanimous approval from both the House and Senate.
Zero-based budgeting requires each state department to start anew every year while preparing their budget requests as opposed to adding on to a previous year’s budget. The veto override vote was unanimous and the bill went to the House for its consideration.
Later that night, as always, we are treated to the most delicious food in the state, straight from Savannah.
Carter, R- Pooler, will be reporting each week during the Legislative Session. The session began Jan. 10 and is expected to last until the latter days of March. He can be reached at Coverdell Legislative Office Building (C.L.O.B.) Room 301-A, Atlanta, GA, 30334 or (404) 656-5109.