The first week of the 2017 session of the General Assembly is now behind us. As a freshman Senator, I must admit, it was a blur. The first day of the 2 year session began with a swearing-in ceremony for all legislators, new and old alike. I was particularly humbled as more than 50 of you traveled to the Capitol to be a part of this event for me.
Work began as soon as our guest left the Senate Chamber. I have been placed on several committees of strategic importance to our region: Higher Education, and Economic Development and Tourism. The importance of these committees to our region cannot be understated because of our numerous technical colleges and the role they play in the issue I’ve heard most from our district: job creation. Additionally, my profession as an attorney landed me on the prestigious Judiciary Committee and the large presence of state properties, particularly prisons, helped me land a role as Vice-Chairman of State Institutions and Property. I look forward to using my position on these committees to benefit our area.
The first piece of legislation I signed onto as a Senator involves another major issue for our area: rural healthcare. Senate Bill 14 extends the privilege currently allowed to individuals and “c” corporations who wish to support rural hospitals and receive state tax credits for doing so to “s” corporations. I also signed on to a soon-to-be proposed Senate Bill focused on the growing issue of mental health. This bill gathers interested parties, including healthcare providers, community organizations, families, and law enforcement officials for the purpose of tackling this growing issue.
SB 2, sponsored by Senator Mike Dugan of Carrollton, seeks to limit regulation and permitting processes as it pertains to starting a business or endeavor. Sen. Dugan’s bill would apply to state agencies and local governments alike, requiring them to give a date by which the applicant would receive their license or permit and requiring the government to reduce the cost of the license or permit if they did not meet the deadline given to the applicant. The bill also requires agencies to share information with the purpose being that applicants for various licenses not be required to go through the tedious practice of entering the same information time and time again. While I’m concerned about how this could create a central database of information, I’m excited about this bill overall and look forward to seeing if we can iron out some of these wrinkles in the committee process.
I do now have an office at the Capitol Complex at suite 324 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building. It appears I will be able to keep the same phone line many of you are comfortable using to call to Senator Tommie Williams for years- 404-656-0089. If you or your group will be up visiting, please let me know. I’d love to see you. If you have any other questions or concerns, feel free to send me an email at email@example.com, or call my district office at 912-537-3030. I’ve also prepared a survey asking upon which issues you’d like me to focus. If you haven’t filled one out yet, those are available online or from Mandy at my district office.
Thanks for the opportunity to serve you.