On Thursday, Feb. 10, the General Assembly adjourned for the week marking the end of the 13th day of the 40-day legislative session.
Over the past two weeks much of the focus has been on working on the Fiscal Year 2011 Supplemental Budget which was approved by the whole House on Thursday.
Each year the General Assembly must pass two budgets: the Supplemental Budget for the current fiscal year which provides for any necessary mid-year adjustments to ensure the budget remains in balance and the full budget for the next fiscal year that begins on July 1.
The measure passed by a strong bipartisan majority; however, there was recognition that the full year FY 2012 Budget that will be drafted in the weeks ahead will be a much more difficult process given the current revenue picture in the state.
While revenues have certainly stabilized, there is still a shortfall estimated to be in excess of $1 billion that will need to be addressed through spending reductions in the FY 2012 Budget.
Last week legislation that I introduced to give consumers more choice in the individual insurance market by allowing sales of insurance products across state lines received its first subcommittee hearing in the Health and Life Subcommittee of the House Insurance Committee.
I strongly believe this is important legislation that will provide for much needed competition in the insurance market in Georgia. After presenting the measure the members of the subcommittee had numerous questions that led to a good debate. I am optimistic the bill will get passed out of the subcommittee at their next scheduled meeting this upcoming week and then it will go on to the full committee for consideration.
I have written a great deal about HB 87, legislation I and numerous other Republican members of the House introduced aimed at addressing the social and economic consequences posed by the 425,000 illegal aliens currently in our state.
On Friday the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee had its third and final hearing of the bill. The hearing process lasted numerous hours over three days and was incredibly inclusive, allowing for views to be expressed from all along the ideological spectrum.
Unfortunately the vast majority of the criticism of the bill continues to be based on hysterical political rhetoric put out by anti-enforcement left wing activists, rather than based on any actual reading of the provisions in the bill.
Thankfully, the vast majority of working Georgians believe, as I do, that enforcing the rule of law and protecting taxpayer-funded benefits for those eligible to receive them are critical and necessary goals.
This is particularly true in a time that our core, taxpayer-funded services are stretched to the max due to budget reductions, leading to more crowded classrooms, an overburdened healthcare system and a law enforcement community working to do more with less resources.
Make no mistake, the failure of the federal government to secure our nation’s borders impacts every single family and business in this state.
I and the other sponsors of this measure continue to be overwhelmed by the incredible level of support from the public in favor of taking this necessary and aggressive action aimed at removing taxpayer-subsidized incentives for illegal aliens to come to Georgia and providing law enforcement more tools to address issues posed by those that are here.
I look forward to the committee’s consideration of the bill in the coming week and am optimistic of a favorable vote which would send the measure to the House Rules Committee.
I have previously written about my committee assignments for this session, which included being named the vice chairman of the House Reapportionment Committee. I was honored this past week by the Chair of the Reapportionment Committee, Roger Lane (R-Darien), to be named the Chair of the Subcommittee for House and Senate Legislative Districts.
I look forward to working with my colleagues to hear input from around the state aimed at drawing fair, balanced and constitutional state House and Senate maps.
I will continue to provide legislative updates as the session moves forward. I look forward to hearing from the members of this community on issues of concern pending before the legislature. As always, please never hesitate to call on me if I can answer any questions or be of service.
[Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) was first elected to the District 72 post in December 2007. He is a law partner with Warner, Hooper, and Ramsey, P.C., in Peachtree City. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.]