Gold Dome update: Jan. 23, 2015

Published 10:59 am Sunday, January 25, 2015

By State Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus, District 13

The Gold Dome started buzzing once again on Monday, Jan. 12 as senators and representatives gathered in their chambers to mark the beginning of the 153rd Legislative Session.

Day one was full of tradition. The day began with the ceremonial call to order by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, the Pledge of Allegiance and the traditional devotional by the Chaplain of the Day. Following the devotional, we elected and swore in President Pro Tempore David Shafer and Secretary of Senate David Cook. All 56 senators, including myself and nine other new senators, from around the state were sworn in for two-year terms.

This week committee assignments from the Lt. Governor were handed out. As a freshman senator, I am excited to announce that I was given the opportunity to serve as vice-chairman of the State and Local Government Operations Committee. I was also selected to serve as secretary of the Government Oversight Committee and as a member of the Health and Human Services and Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committees.

During the week, I also began my duties as Deputy Whip of the Majority Caucus. My role of Deputy Whip is to assist the Majority Whip with researching legislation, educating and informing caucus members, and ensuring a full caucus presence during important legislative votes. Having this leadership role as a newly elected senator is an honor and I am looking forward to being a positive voice for South Georgia during this biennial legislative term.

Gov. Nathan Deal delivered his annual “State of the State” address on Jan. 14. He spoke inspiring words about our state’s prosperous recovery after the economic collapse. He reported that our state is strong and getting even stronger as each day passes. He mentioned Georgia’s status as the number one place to do business in the country, a recognition given by one of the nation’s premier real estate and economic development publications, Site Selection Magazine. With the relocation of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche America to Georgia on the horizon, it is apparent that this recognition was earned.

During the “State of the State,” Gov. Deal also unveiled his proposed budget plans for the upcoming fiscal year, focusing on key state priorities such as education, transportation funding and healthcare. Last year, we budgeted for an increase in revenue of 3.4 percent and ended the 2014 fiscal year with an increase in revenue of 4.8 percent! The second week, members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will spend a considerable amount of time combing through every line item of the state budget. This is done to ensure that not a dime of taxpayer money is misappropriated.

During the week, I also had the privilege of sponsoring my first bill, Senate Bill 34. After countless cases of young children being left in cars last year, I felt that it was necessary to create a bill that would protect the individuals who enter a parked vehicle to remove unsupervised children that are in imminent danger. Senate Bill 34 would protect these individuals from liability of property damage or injury.

This session promises to be full of important legislation designed to help make Georgia a better place to live, to work and to play. I am honored that you have put your trust in me and I will always put your best interests at the forefront of my decision making while here at the Capitol. Please feel free to contact my office at any time to talk about pending legislation or address other concerns in our district — my door and phone lines are always open!