Day 14 (Feb. 15): The Capitol was abuzz today with the disappointing news that the president’s budget did not include funding for the deepening of the Savannah Harbor.
Members of the state legislature consider this to be one of the top priorities of any economic development project in the state and appear to be undeterred by this temporary setback, pledging to work even harder to ensure the project becomes a reality.
Another major topic in the Senate today was Sunday sales of alcohol, which continues to be discussed among this very deliberative body. Poll results from the weekend were reviewed and a caucus vote on whether to bring the issue to the Senate floor was scheduled.
As we went into session today, I was prepared to present SR 84, a constitutional amendment to allow the state to enter into multi-year leases, and SB 37, the legislation that describes how the multi-year leasing process will work. However, as I entered the chamber, I was approached by the minority caucus chairman who requested that the legislation be delayed until I can meet with them to discuss any issues they may have.
Later in the session, I texted my three sons to let them know we are honoring one of their favorite bands today. Widespread Panic, a popular band from Athens that my sons have followed for many years, was welcomed and honored for their success and many contributions they have made to our state. As I get my picture taken with members of the band, I can’t help but think of how cool my sons will think I am to have had my picture taken with one of their favorite bands.
Day 15 (Feb. 16): I began the day by meeting with members of the minority caucus to discuss SR 84 and SB 37. After a good meeting with the caucus members, we headed into session, and after honoring a few great Georgians such as long time University of Georgia tennis coach Dan Magill, we join our House colleagues across the hall for a joint session to hear the State of the Judiciary address by Chief Justice Carol Hunstein of the Georgia Supreme Court.
Echoing the same concerns Gov. Nathan Deal brought out in his State of the State address only a month earlier, Chief Justice Hunstein said the state can’t afford the costs of incarcerating so many inmates in the prison system and called for a sentencing revamp and the increased use of drug courts and other venues for dealing with non-violent offenders.
These comments were of particular interest to me as the new chairman of the Senate State Institutions and Property Committee, where I now have responsibility of overseeing the state’s prison system.
Later in the afternoon I presented SB 36, a bill creating the Prescription Monitoring Program, before full committee and was delighted that it passed unanimously.
Day 16 (Thursday): Deciding to concentrate on more important issues such as HOPE, jobs and the budget, Republican leadership announced today that a caucus whip count has resulted in the Sunday sales of alcohol issue being abandoned for this session.
Later in the morning, along with other pharmacy caucus members, I had the opportunity to meet with Gil Kerlikowski, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control (ONDCP), who traveled from Washington, D.C., to offer his support of SB 36, the Prescription Monitoring Program.
Carter, R- Pooler, is reporting each week during the legislative session, which is expected to last until the latter days of March. He can be reached at Coverdell Legislative Office Building Room 301-A, Atlanta, GA, 30334. His Capitol office number is (404) 656-5109.