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State Rep. Jon Burns
It is now official, the Georgia General Assembly has completed the 2011 legislative session. The session began on Jan. 10 with a icy snow storm that blanketed much of our state, including the State Capitol; however, that did not deter the members of the legislature from doing our job and serving on your behalf. Forty legislative session days later, the adjournment of the 2011 session ended at around 11:40 p.m. on April 14.
The first full week in April, also known as Master’s Week throughout most of Georgia, is the traditional spring break period for K-12 schools in our state. For similar reasons, the General Assembly also took a brief break this week. This break gave state legislators, a chance to review the status of legislation and prepare for the last three days of the current legislative session.
As this session draws to a close, the General Assembly continues to debate and vote on issues of importance to our state. Most of what my colleagues and I passed in the House were bills whose intent was to increase safety for Georgians in several professional fields.
As you may remember, last week marked the 30th legislative day or “Crossover Day,” when all House bills must have passed through the House in order to allow enough time for them to undergo the Senate committee process. Likewise, the House spent most of this week discussing Senate bills in committee. We did, however, pass several important resolutions, which express the opinion of the House body.
We reached an important point in the 2011 session on Wednesday, March 16. “Crossover Day,” the 13th day of the session is the last day a bill passed by either chamber can be considered by the other chamber.
In the column this week, I want to bring you up to date on the recent recommendations for the Georgia Department of Early Care And Learning” (DECAL) and their program “Bright From the Start,” more commonly referred to as pre-k. There has been a great deal of talk about this proposal, and I wanted to let you know what information we have received since last week, and also, how carefully Governor Deal is weighing these policy decisions.
The General Assembly completed its work this week on Friday, March 4, with our 24th legislative session day. Several key pieces of legislation were debated and discussed on the House floor.
We dealt with several difficult issues at the Capitol this week that will have a significant impact on our state. The biggest of these issues was how we continue with the HOPE Scholarship and Pre-K funding.
This week we held the State of the Judicial address by Chief Justice Carol Hunstein.
Just as our governor, serving as chief of our state’s executive branch, visits the House and presents the State of the State address to the General Assembly each year, so to does the chief justice in presenting the State of the Judiciary address.
The two biggest issues addressed by Chief Justice Hunstein in her State of the Judiciary address this week were sentence reform and specialty courts.
The first priority of the legislative session is always to pass the budgets.
We concluded our 10th day of the session on Feb. 3. The committee process is in full swing as we have begun consideration of new legislation. The House Appropriations subcommittees delved further into the state budgets. These meeting have begun to show that zero-based budgeting and the HOPE program will receive a great deal of attention throughout the remainder of this session. With that in mind, I would like to take a moment to let you know a little about both of these issues.
Monday, Jan. 24, marked the beginning of the third week of the 2011 legislative session.
Traditionally the third week is a time when committees begin to meet to review and discuss legislation. It is required that each bill be read on the House floor before it passes through the committee process with hopes of returning to the House floor for final deliberation.
Despite the slow start caused by the snow and ice that covered much of Georgia over two weeks ago, we were able to begin the committee process in earnest this week.
During the first week of the General Assembly’s 2011 legislative session, Gov. Nathan Deal delivered his State of the State Address and presented his amended budget for the Fiscal Year 2011 and the Fiscal Year 2012.
According to Georgia’s Constitution, the Georgia General Assembly is required to convene for its annual 40-day legislative session each year on the second Monday in January.
After a major winter storm covered much of our state in a blanket of snow and ice, many Georgia schools and businesses were forced to close. However, that was not an option at the state capitol.
When we began this year’s legislative session, David Ralston, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, challenged the state House to pass four pieces of legislation that would improve the entire state of Georgia. Each of these bills was aimed at addressing a particular problem currently affecting our entire state.