• Day 19 (Wednesday, Feb. 15): Without question, in the eight years that I have served in the Legislature, this has been the busiest time that I have ever experienced.
Although we were not in session yesterday, as a member of the appropriations committee, I was at the Capitol reviewing the fiscal year 2012 amended budget. As the chairman of the criminal justice subcommittee, it is my responsibility to oversee the budget for the Department of Corrections and the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.
We started today off with a meeting of the 1st Congressional District Coastal Delegation, chaired by Rep. Ron Stephens. The two-hour meeting included presentations by Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens regarding the difficulty coastal property owners east of Interstate 95 have obtaining homeowner’s insurance. We also heard from Todd Long, director of the state’s planning for transportation, regarding the upcoming TSPLOST referendum.
During today’s session, we dealt with three bills, including SB 246, which increases the employee contribution for new members of the employees retirement system from $4 per month to $10 per month. We also passed SB 286, which prohibits future tax commissioners and their employees from becoming members of the employees retirement system if they become a tax commissioner on or after July 1, 2012. SB 269, which deals with voluntary corrective actions for water violations, turns out to be controversial and is pulled off of the calendar by the author.
• Day 20 (Thursday, Feb. 16): I submit two more bills today as we go into session, bringing the total number of bills that I am sponsoring to 14 for the year. Counting the bills left from last year, I am working on 25 bills.
SB 331, a bill that defines what tasks and duties title insurers are authorized to execute, is one of three bills we passed today. We also passed SB 358, which requires local governments in Georgia to reciprocate the preferences granted by out-of-state local governments for vendors in their own states to Georgia’s vendors. The final bill to pass was SB 366, which prohibits bringing drugs or weapons across the guard line in juvenile detention centers and youth development centers.
• Day 21 (Friday, Feb. 17): We started out early today at 8 a.m. with a caucus meeting and session at 9 a.m. I presented and passed my first bill of the session today. SB 369 extends the repeal date of the Georgia Geospastial Advisory Council from June 30, 2012 to June 30, 2015.
The GGAC was created in 2010 by HB 169, a bill I passed while I was still in the House for the purpose of auditing Georgia’s geospatial capabilities at the county, regional and state levels.
We also passed SB 107, increasing the maximum fine for contempt of court in superior court from $500 to $1000, and SB 395, which authorizes the collection of SPLOST revenues to be fractionally collected up to a full 1 percent. SB 362, the deadhead logging bill, also passed today.
I am joined at the Capitol today by Matt Cardella, a friend and community activist from Hinesville. After enjoying a visit with Matt and catching up on paperwork, I head to beautiful Southeast Georgia for the weekend.
Carter can be reached at Coverdell Legislative Office Building (C.L.O.B.) Room 301-A, Atlanta, GA 30334. His Capitol office number is 404-656-5109.
Editor’s note: Several of our area lawmakers will be reporting periodically during the Legislative session, which began Jan. 9 and is expected to last until the latter days of March.