By: Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia)
While most of the buzz around our state currently centers around the Super Bowl, the Capitol it was business as usual – almost. Tuesday’s weather predicted snow and ice, necessitating a government shutdown of another type, as fears of ice with 2 million visitors in town caused flashbacks to the Atlanta “Snowmageddon” of 2014 . The weather forecast, however, proved to be as reliable as a career politician, as the snow never accumulated. Governor Kemp smiled as he tongue-in-cheek referred to this as a “dress rehearsal” for a show we are all very glad never came. I join the Governor in his praise of our law enforcement, GDOT workers, and first responders who were aptly prepared even while stretched and stressed with the pressures of preparing for our Super Bowl guests.
The Senate cleared its first bill in committee, a relatively simple clean-up addressing who must stop for stopped and unloading school buses. Current law does not clearly define when passing a stopped school bus on a separate roadway is permissible. According to last year’s HB 978, if a turn lane divider is present, drivers on the other side of the divider can pass a school bus when dropping off or picking up students. SB 25 clarifies that a grass median, unpaved area or physical barrier are the only road dividers that allow for the passing of a stopped school bus. So, if the only thing separating one direction of traffic from the other is a turn lane, you still have to stop for loading and unloading school buses. This bill would take effect immediately upon the Governor’s signature. There is no reason to delay this measure that puts the safety of Georgia’s school children first.
On the House side two broadband bills received favorable consideration in their respective committee. These bills would allow EMCs and telephone companies to deploy broadband. There are also two bills in the Senate that would do the same thing. We’re making progress on this topic and I look forward to diving deeper into this topic in the coming weeks.
Many of you emailed and called me concerning questions from last week’s column on the state budget. You wanted to know the specific costs and contracts that made up the percentages I gave you. The State of Georgia makes available every state department financial report, local government audit, and even that salaries of every state employee from your local school teacher to the Governor through the State Auditor’s website at www.open.ga.gov. Here, you can look up the salary of your favorite school teacher, your favorite football coach (yes, even Kirby Smart), or even you favorite senator (I’ll save you the time and tell you my salary is $17,341.68! J). It’s like viewing the checkbook register of your state government whenever you want and is a great way to see where your tax dollars are being spent, down to the last cent. If this is of interest to you, I walk you through the process of searching this site in my weekly “Senate Minute” video posted to my Senate Facebook site or on the Georgia Senate Press’s YouTube channel.
The survey I mentioned last week is up on my website seeking your opinions on the hot button topics I foresee we will deal with this year. Many of you have already logged in and given me your thoughts. I encourage everyone to fill out this survey if able. I ask you also fill out the address section so I can confirm the feedback I’m getting is from folks in our area, not metro-Atlanta. I may sit in the chair at the state Capitol, but the seat belongs to you. I value your input the most when voting on legislation, but the only way I can know what you think is if you tell me! You can find the survey here: https://www.blaketillery.com/2019survey/
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about legislation, please do not hesitate to let me know. I am more than happy to answer your questions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 404-656-0089. Thanks for the opportunity to serve you.
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Sen. Blake Tillery represents the 19th Senate District, which includes Appling, Jeff Davis, Long, Montgomery, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne, and Wheeler counties and a portion of Liberty and Tattnall counties. He can be reached at 404.656.0089 or by email at email@example.com.