On Monday, January 22, my House colleagues and I convened for the third week of the 2018 legislative session. We have completed legislative Day 10, which means we are already one-fourth of the way through our 40-day session. With just 30 legislative days remaining, the pace has noticeably picked up as House committees meet more frequently to consider and vet the proposed legislation. The House also saw measures introduced this week that were recommended by our interim House councils and commissions, and we worked with the Senate and passed an adjournment resolution that set our legislative schedule for the remainder of the session. There is still much to do and several important issues that need to be addressed before adjourning Sine Die.

Although Georgia’s economy has experienced exponential growth over the past few years not all parts of our state have had the same amount of prosperity. Because of this, the House is focusing heavily on improving economic opportunities for our more rural communities. Last session, we adopted House Resolution 389, which established the House Rural Development Council (RDC). During the interim, the members of this council traveled to many of Georgia’s various rural communities and met with their local leaders. The RDC studied issues that are specific to Georgia’s rural areas as well as researched ways to encourage economic growth. The RDC examined various components of economic development and related policies such as education, infrastructure, access to health care and economic growth incentives. In December the RDC took their findings and released the first of two reports that outline several legislative recommendations for helping to boost rural Georgia’s economic opportunities.

This week, we saw the first rural development-related bill, House Bill 735, be introduced for the House’s consideration. HB 735 would create a tax credit for short line railroad track maintenance expenditures to create incentives for investment in rail infrastructure in rural Georgia. This is hopefully just the beginning of many pieces of legislation that we will consider in order to bring economic growth to areas of Georgia that have not yet experienced the robust growth that other areas of our state have experienced. Since the bill was just introduced this week, it will not begin to make its way through the legislative process. I will keep you updated on its progress throughout the rest of session.

For our state to continue its economic success attention must be given to our transportation network. A connected and efficient transportation network is vital to economic growth, which is why transit is of such a high priority in the House this session. During the 2017 session, House Resolution 848 was adopted, which established the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding. This commission is tasked with the responsibility of studying our state’s transportation needs and researching different ways our state can plan and provide for those needs. Both the transit commission and the RDC have worked diligently since the end of the 2017 session to study pressing issues facing to our state, and I am excited to see initial proposals come to fruition in the form of legislation.

This week some time was also spent working with our Senate counterparts and adopting another adjournment resolution. This resolution determined our calendar for the remainder of the 2018 legislative session. Legislative Day 40, also known as Sine Die, will be the final day of the legislative session and will be Thursday, March 29. My House colleagues and I will spend the remainder of of our time working diligently to pass meaningful bills for Governor Nathan Deal to consider signing into law.

On Thursday, January 25 the House Rules Committee held its first meeting of the session. Once bills have passed out of their respective committees, they must also be passed out of the Rules Committee. This process determines which bills should be debated and voted on the House floor. Once a bill has passed out of the Rules Committee they are generally heard on the House floor the following legislative day. We will most likely begin to vote on the session’s first pieces of legislation next week as several committees are now beginning to pass bills out of their committees.

While last week we focused largely on reviewing Gov. Deal’s state budget recommendations with the Senate, this week, the House Appropriations subcommittees held several hearings at the Capitol to further review the governor’s budget proposals. The General Assembly is required to pass a balanced budget every year, so after reviewing Gov. Deal’s proposed budget, my House colleagues and I will draft a bill for the Amended Fiscal Year 2018 (AYF 2018) budget as well as another bill for the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY 2019) budget. The AYF 2018 budget, often nicknamed the “small budget” is an adjusted budget for the current fiscal year, which will end on June 30. The FY 2019 budget, often nicknamed the “big budget” is the state budget for the fiscal year of 2019, which will begin on July 1. The big budget will be based on projected state revenue for the upcoming fiscal year. After the House Appropriations Committee passes the complete budgets for AYF 2018 and FY 2019, they will follow the necessary steps to reach Governor Nathan Deal, where they will ether be vetoed or signed into law.

While we had a busy week on the House floor my colleagues and I took the time to honor a distinguished Georgian and former state representative. Thursday, January 25, Congressman Doug Collins visited the Georgia State Capitol, bringing greetings and updates from our state’s congressional delegation in Washington D.C. Collins praised our legislative body for the work we are doing on behalf of all Georgians. It was an honor to have him visit and to receive his praise.

Finally, the House celebrated National Guard Day at the Capitol on Thursday by recognizing some of our state’s most honorable citizens. Several men and women of the Georgia National Guard visited the House Chamber and were presented with House Resolution 902. The Georgia Department of Defense, which provides military-ready forces to the president and disaster response forces to the governor, employs:

  • Over 10,891 Army National Guard Soldiers.
  • 2, 746 Air National Guard Airmen
  • 583 State Defense Force members
  • Over 600 state employees.

Since 9/11, over 18,000 Georgia National Guard members have been deployed overseas and more than 200 are currently being deployed. These courageous men and women have selflessly served our state’s citizens in so many ways, and it was an honor and a privilege to recognize their contributions and sacrifices for all Americans, especially us Georgians. We were so excited to welcome them to the House Chamber.

As we continue to make our way through the 2018 legislative session, House committees will continue to meet more frequently to review proposed legislation. I serve as a member of the Health and Human Services, Higher Education and State Planning and Community Affairs committees, and I encourage you to contact me to discuss any measures that will be discussed by these committees or any other legislation that may interest you. Please visit my Capitol office located at 607-F Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg. You can also reach my office phone number at 404-656- 0287, and my email address is karen.mathiak@house.ga.gov. Please feel free to reach out to me anytime. You can also stay up-to-date by following my Facebook Page. Your input and comments are invaluable to me, and I hope that you will reach out to me with any questions or concerns you may have about our district or our state as a whole.

Thank you for allowing me to be your representative.

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