By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)
The Georgia General Assembly has completed the fourth week of the 2016 legislative session, and week five is well underway. The days only get busier as we continue to debate legislation, review the budget numbers, and meet with constituents who have traveled to the Capitol to discuss important concerns with us. The last part of the previous sentence is especially significant, because everything I do as your state senator is based on daily calls, visits and emails received by my office.
I recently introduced Senate Resolution 876 because of conversations with citizens and business owners in District 51, and also throughout the state. If approved by the Georgia General Assembly, the resolution would create the Joint High-Speed Broadband Communications Access for All Georgians Study Committee. The legislators assigned to this committee would be tasked with examining the conditions, needs, issues and problems of high-speed broadband internet access. Economic development, education and health care are areas commonly impacted by reduced access to broadband communications, and professionals from these areas will be asked to share information about specific barriers and concerns. I am looking forward to discussing solutions that will expand broadband internet access and create more opportunities for economic and educational growth in rural Georgia.
The Senate took a stand against family violence by passing Senate Bill 193 last week. Under current Georgia law, a first conviction of family violence batter is only considered a high and aggravated misdemeanor—it takes a second conviction in order to be charged with a felony. Senate Bill 193 amends this law and increases penalties for repeat family violence offenders by charging those already convicted of family violence in another state with a felony.
The Senate also passed Senate Bill 199, which clarifies the definition of allowable campaign material at active polling locations in Georgia. Most campaign material is not allowed in or around these locations; however, there has been some confusion about prohibited publications, objects and signs. This bill would provide polling workers with new guidelines about what is considered campaign material.
Last week, we welcomed a number of groups to the Capitol, including members of the Georgia statewide 4-H leadership team and the Georgia Farm Bureau Federation. Thank you for all you do to promote the agriculture industry and educate the next generation of Georgia farmers.
Senate Appropriations Subcommittees met last week to closely review sections of the amended FY 2016 budget, as passed by the House. Subcommittee reports were submitted last Friday, and these reports will be used to draft the Senate’s proposed version of the amended budget. We still have a long way to go before a finalized version will be passed, but this is just the start of a cooperative process between the House and Senate.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, comments or concerns you may have with any legislation this session. I always appreciate and encourage your feedback!
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Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties. He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at [email protected]