On Monday, January 11, 2010, we began the second session of the 150th General Assembly. As our first order of business, the House quickly began the process of electing a new Speaker of the House and Speaker Pro Tempore--the two highest ranking positions in the Georgia House of Representatives. After hearing the candidates, the House of Representatives elected David Ralston as House Speaker and Jan Jones as House Speaker Pro Tem. Both won with broad, bi-partisan support.
During his acceptance speech, Speaker Ralston discussed the challenges that we face as a state. However, he also noted that we should view these issues as opportunities and as a chance to make significant changes that will ultimately better our state.
Although Speaker Pro Tem Jones is now the highest ranking woman in the history of the Georgia General Assembly, she did not focus on her own accomplishments. Rather, she reminded us of the high standards that we, as elected officials, should hold ourselves to and that our first priority is to represent the people of Georgia.
On Wednesday, January 13, Governor Sonny Perdue addressed a joint session of the House and Senate during his final State of the State address. Governor Perdue echoed the sentiments of the new leadership in the House. Quoting Thomas Paine, Governor Perdue reminded members of the General Assembly that good fathers and mothers ask for hard times and sacrifice during their lives so that those same challenges might be avoided by their children.
Governor Perdue, Speaker Ralston, and Speaker Pro Tem Jones all know and understand that Georgians are facing great challenges. However, we must remember that these are opportunities, not insurmountable obstacles. Like good fathers and mothers, we must also be ready to accept these opportunities and be willing to make the necessary sacrifices for the next generation. You elected me to do what is right for our district as well as all of Georgia, and I am eager to make the most of that opportunity.
On a personal note
It was my honor to serve on newly elected Speaker David Ralston's escort committee on Monday. He selected ten representatives (out of 179) to escort him into the House chambers as the new Speaker. Words cannot express what an honor it was to be one that he chose. I was quoted in The Gainesville Times on Wednesday regarding his election as Speaker. The article link is http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/news/article/28190/.
The 2010 Committee assignments have just been announced. My committees are Appropriations, Education, SECRETARY of Higher Education, and Special Committee on Small Business Development and Jobs Creation (new committee). Since I have served in the House, Speaker Ralston is the first Speaker to appoint someone from the minority party to be an officer on a standing committee. He is certainly making an effort toward bringing both parties together to work for all Georgians. I truly believe that reaching across party lines is what we need to move forward.
Regarding the Governor's budget, it has just been released online. The link is http://www.opb.state.ga.us/budget-information/budget-publications/governor's-budget-report-order-information-for-fy-2011---afy-2010.aspx if you are interested in reading more.
I'm still learning how to work with the new format of my newsletter. In the next few weeks I'll figure out how to add those who want to be added to the mailing list. Until then, please ask anyone who would like to receive my weekly newsletters, during the session, to send an email to my address (firstname.lastname@example.org) with "add to newsletter list" in the subject line.
I would like to send a few shout-outs to:
* Lowndes County for becoming a Certified Work Ready Community
* David Retterbush, MD, for his appointment to the Georgia Composite Medical Board
* The City of Valdosta for its 150th anniversary
Did you Know?
Georgia ranks 49th in State Gasoline Tax Rates with 12.4 cents per gallon as compared to New York, with a rate of 42.5 cents (ranked 1st). Information provided by the Tax Foundation, Washington, DC