Speaker Pro Tem Acceptance Comments

January 15, 2013


Thank you for allowing me to serve you as Speaker Pro Tem of the People’s House.  I value your support, friendship and commitment to our great state.  Together, we’ll position Georgia to lead the nation in economic growth, education excellence and job creation.

I want to thank the gentleman of the 134th from Columbus, Richard Smith, for his generous words.  And I want to thank the gentle lady of the 170th from Nashville, Penny Houston, for her kind words.

I’m grateful to serve by the grace of God; with the support of the good people of the 47th District; and because my family stands by me patiently as your families do for you. I want to thank Kalin and our four children, including Kalin and Peyton who are here today.

I’m also grateful to this body for its good judgment in electing David Ralston as Speaker.  Georgia is the beneficiary, and I’m honored to serve this House and you, Speaker Ralston.  I look forward again to Larry O’Neal’s leadership as Majority Leader.  He has my admiration.  As well, I am honored to serve with Minority Leader Stacy Abrams and I appreciate our valuable partnership in moving Georgia forward.
I want to welcome the 47 newly elected freshmen to the People’s House and into the halls of a Capital where others have served since 1889, each humbled as they pass under its dome rising 237 feet above ground.

I’m going to quote from a book I turn to from time to time to remind me how much Georgia has changed since the Great Depression.

“The average Georgian votes the Democratic ticket, attends the Baptist or Methodist church, goes home to midday dinner, relies greatly on high cotton prices, and is so good a family man that he flings wide his doors to even the most distant of his wife’s cousins’ cousins.”

So began the first chapter of Georgia, the American Guide Series published in 1940, a mere 73 years ago.

We’ve changed since then, becoming a state of tremendous diversity and with a complex economy.  Our unemployment rate, although still too high, is lower than the 15% rate in 1940.

Advancing our state with innovative thinking in the salad days, but more significantly, in the lean times, is part of Georgia’s rich history.  I’m confident we will continue to do the same this session.

We’ll assure our state lives within its means and maintains its coveted AAA bond rating.  We’ll make Georgia even more jobs friendly.  And we’ll continue education improvements to assure we have a 21st century educational system from kindergarten through college that is student-focused, innovative, efficient, flexible and effective.

None of this can be accomplished without each of us – Democrat and Republican; rural, suburban and urban – working together and focusing on what is truly important.
I’m confident we’ll find the “good” in these challenging times, including opportunities to do things differently and better across all 59,265 square miles and for our almost 10 million people.

I appreciate you as the People’s representatives and your role in moving Georgia ever forward. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of it as your Speaker Pro Tem.