2013 Legislative Preview

January 29, 2013

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Thank you for the privilege to represent your interests in the Georgia General Assembly. It is a tremendous responsibility that I take seriously.

I was re-elected as Speaker Pro Tem on the first day of session by my colleagues from across the state. This position, the second highest ranking in the House, gives me greater ability to assure your state government works for you. I will continue to do so gratefully and with the utmost attention to your concerns.

The 2013 legislative session kicked off to a productive start. As we move forward into this term, there are a number of items that I want you to know about.

Cutting Fulton County down to size remains a priority for me. As you may know, Fulton taxes and spends substantially more per resident than other metro counties.  Its annual per capita tax revenues and expenditures are more than double those of Cobb and Gwinnett counties even after taking into account the cost of Grady Hospital.

During challenging economic times, there’s no time better than the present to assure we’re getting the best government services possible and at the lowest cost.  Although most county decisions lie within the exclusive authority of the commission, the local legislative delegation can make numerous modifications.

For background, the local delegation comprises all state representatives and senators that represent a portion of Fulton County.  After the 2010 census, the General Assembly drew new legislative maps. When those maps took effect recently, the balance of representation shifted north from Buckhead to the county border.  Now, 13 Republicans and 12 Democrats represent Fulton in the House and seven Republicans and four Democrats in the Senate. Here are a few of the ways this new north Fulton-majority delegation will be working hard to meet your needs:

Passing new county commission district maps:  Necessary per federal law following 2010 census counts to assure equal representation by commission districts.  Additionally, the structure of the commission and its powers will be reconsidered.

Fighting high property taxes: I will champion an initiative to double the general county homestead exemption from $30,000 to $60,000 and implement limitations on millage rate increases. I’m passionate about cutting the cost of government.

Cutting through Fulton’s red tape: We will work to reform library and court systems, as well as the employment system and the elections board, so you receive fair and capable services.

Re-creating Milton County: Although passing a Constitutional amendment with a two-thirds General Assembly majority remains a challenging prospect, it also remains my top priority. I will reintroduce the legislation again this session and keep you informed as we make progress over the next two-year legislative term.

I want to thank you for re-electing me as your State Representative. I’m excited to continue representing your interests this legislative session. Please feel free to contact me and share your ideas and concerns.