• Monday, Feb. 4 — After a short weekend break, we were welcomed back to the Capitol by a sea of green for 4-H Day. The mission of 4-H is to assist youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills and forming productive attitudes. The fine young people who gathered Feb. 4 were great examples of this successful program. Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, and I were delighted to welcome the Leadership Liberty group to the Capitol. At lunch, I was honored to join my friends from Glynn County and the Brunswick area who were there to meet with state officials. Later in the afternoon, after attending the Appropriations Criminal Justice subcommittee hearings, I presented legislation to the Ethics Committee allowing individual counties to hold nonpartisan elections for offices such as county coroner and tax commissioners. While the testimony and discussion at the meeting were enlightening, the bills were tabled until the next meeting.
• Tuesday, Feb. 5 — I joined House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams, D-Smyrna, in addressing the Gate City Bar Association, one of the oldest law organizations in our state. As we went into session, we honored a number of groups and recognized the Georgia State Firefighter Association. Feb. 5 was the 41st annual Firefighters Recognition Day at the Capitol, as we continued to honor the commitment and sacrifices made by firefighters in our communities on a daily basis.
The afternoon was a tough one; I chaired a 2½-hour meeting of the Appropriations Public Safety subcommittee as the departments present their budgets for the year.
• Wednesday, Feb. 6 — We learned that Dr. Dean Burke from Bainbridge would join us in the Senate as he was victorious Feb. 5 in the special election in Southwest Georgia. Senator-elect Burke will be sworn in this week after the election results are certified by the secretary of state’s office.
During session, we had more deserving recognitions as we celebrated Aerospace Recognition Day, Columbus Day and marked the centennial anniversary of Georgia State University.
Senate Bill 14, establishing a statewide Alzheimer’s and dementia task force to assess the current and future impact of these diseases in our state, was passed. Later that afternoon, my good friend, Ann Purcell from Rincon, was elected to the state transportation board as the representative from the 1st Congressional District.
• Thursday, Feb. 7 — I presented SB 10 and SB 13, both dealing with nursing issues, to the Health and Human Services subcommittee and was successful in getting them passed on to the full committee.
We celebrated both Veterinary Medicine Day and Turkish American Day during our session before convening to the House chamber for a joint session to hear Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein deliver the State of the Judiciary address. Her speech centered on reforming Georgia’s juvenile-justice system and was well received by the Legislature.
Later that afternoon, Gov. Nathan Deal announced that he would support legislation changing the grade-point average required for a technical college student’s HOPE Grant from a 3.0 back to 2.0. In 2011, the grant’s eligibility was changed as part of legislation intended to address the fiscal stability of the program. Since that time, technical colleges have had a significant decrease in enrollment.
• Friday, Feb. 8 — Friday was John Bulloch Day in the Senate, honoring the longtime Agriculture Committee chairman by suspending the rules and wearing jeans in the chamber, as was the now-retired senator’s Friday custom.
We elected Greg S. Griffin as state auditor. This important position provides decision-makers such as the Legislature with management information on the accountability and stewardship in state and local governments.
Carter can be reached at 421-B State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334. His Capitol office number is 404-656-5109. Connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/buddycarterga or follow him on Twitter @Buddy_Carter.