Report on Week No. 2 of Georgia House

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[Editor’s note: Rep. Ramsey’s column was sent too late for inclusion in the Feb. 6 edition.]

Last week (Jan. 26-30) in the General Assembly, we convened for legislative days five through eight of our 40-day session and we took our first legislative floor vote of the session.

At the beginning of last week I had the opportunity to meet with high school exchange students from the World Heritage International Student Exchange Programs, and welcome them to your state Capitol. They are staying with families all over our community and it was an honor to visit with such a diverse group of young people and exchange information and perspectives.

In addition to students, the House also played host this past Tuesday to the Atlanta Hawks’ very own Dominique Wilkins. Dominique is our state’s diabetes ambassador and I have had the opportunity to work with him on issues pertaining to diabetes as the chair of the House Diabetes Caucus. He is a strong advocate for diabetes-related issues and he played on integral part on Diabetes Day.

As the dad of a Type 1 diabetic, I truly appreciate his passion and zeal for all of those afflicted by Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

On Wednesday, January 28th, the House adopted HR 67, which I was proud to author. The resolution recognizes January 28, 2015 as Autism Awareness Day in honor of the many families that are dealing with this confounding and difficult condition.

Current studies show that 1 in 68 American children are diagnosed with some form of autism and I join all of the Georgia House of Representatives in recognizing and applauding the cooperative efforts of organizations devoted to finding a cure for autism, such as Autism Speaks, as well as families affected by the disability and who seek to advance research, treatment, and care for individuals with autism.

Legislatively, the House passed its first piece of legislation of the 2015-’16 session: the amended 2014 -’15 budget. That might seem confusing to most, but the amended budget is really the budget for the last three months of the current fiscal year.

This budget exemplified the spirit and intent of an “amended” budget, making only the changes needed to balance Georgia’s budget within the new revenue estimate, realign agency budgets based on need and funding the mid-term adjustment for K-12 education.

Meanwhile, committees received a wave of legislation this week, and by last Thursday 126 pieces of legislation were read for the first time and assigned to committee. I shared with you last week (Jan. 28 column in The Citizen) that the real work of the General Assembly was about to begin, and it has.

One piece of legislation that has already grabbed a great many headlines over the past couple of days has been the newly proposed transportation infrastructure funding initiative.

As I study and learn more about the measure during the hearing process in the weeks ahead, I will share additional information about the specific elements of the bill.

The plan put forth by the chairman of the House Transportation Committee and others is an effort to ensure all tax dollars collected at gas pumps are spent on transportation infrastructure, rather than routed to other purposes by government.

His proposal attempts to accomplish this goal by eliminating the sales tax on gas in lieu of an excise tax, which is constitutionally dedicated to transportation purposes and thus can’t be diverted to non-transportation purposes.

The measure was just introduced last week and will likely be heard by the Transportation Committee in the days ahead.

This is the beginning of the legislative process and this measure will surely change and evolve throughout that long and winding process as questions are raised.

I look forward to learning more about the proposal and will provide updates as the measure is considered during the legislative process.

Please never hesitate to call on me if I can be of service to you.

[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 matt.ramsey@house.ga.gov.]