The Georgia General Assembly has completed fourteen legislative days. Twenty six (26) legislative days remain.
Last Monday, the House adopted their legislative calendar through the 30th legislative day also known as "Crossover Day". The 30th legislative day is planned for Monday, March 5.
Once again, let me know if I can ever be of help on any public policy issue.
Public Policy Coordinator
Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce
|Interview with Lt. Governor Casey Cagle
| Speaker David Ralston's Small Business Deregulation Committee
At the outset of the 2012 session, Speaker Ralston created the Special Committee on Small Business and Job Creation. They were charged with thoroughly reviewing and evaluating the regulatory environment in which our small businesses operate.
Throughout the 2012 legislative session, meetings will be held at the State Capitol in order to hear testimony directly from those individuals who must work within the confines of our state's regulations to operate their businesses. The House has as its goal to seek out any unfair or burdensome regulations that hinder small business growth in this state and determine if the General Assembly can address this matter through legislation.
The first meeting was held on February 2nd from and the committee heard from many small business owners and operators. Additional meetings will be scheduled as requests to testify begin to come in.
If you are interested in testifying in person or in writing please contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org and include the following information.
Higher Education, the Board of Regents and University System
Your chamber has made it a top priority to increase access to higher education within our footprint. This year we are working with Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and others to bring a campus of Gwinnett Technical college to North Fulton. Over the next few weeks I will share short primers on higher education in Georgia. This week I focus on the Board of Regents and the University System of Georgia.
Public universities and technical colleges are two separate entities when it comes to funding and governance. The University System of Georgia consists of 35 colleges and universities: four research universities, two regional universities, 13 state universities, 14 state colleges, and two two-year colleges.
The Board of Regents is composed of 18 members all appointed by the Governor: five are appointed from the state-at-large and one from each of the 13 congressional districts. The Board elects a chancellor who serves as its chief executive officer and the chief administrative officer of the University System.
Kessel Stelling, a Cobb resident and Chairman and President of Synovus Bank, represents the 6th Congressional District on the Board. His North Fulton ties are deep as he formerly served as President of Bank of North Georgia.
In addition to Kessel our community has another advocate on the Board. Regent Richard Tucker technically represents Gwinnett County and the 7th Congressional District but has repeatedly gone to bat for the higher education interests of North Fulton and all of the North Metro area. He has been an important leader on that board. Appointed in 2011, Regent Phil Wilheit of Gainesville has also championed the Georgia 400 corridor throughout his tenure.
In 2011 the University System served 311,442 full-time enrolled students who completed 8,356,547 credit hours; both statistics set records for the system. The Governor and leaders in the General Assembly are committed to advancing higher education in Georgia.In recent years we have seen a number of shakeups in the two arenas concerning higher education. Controversy has surrounded the consolidation and redistricting of colleges and reformation of the HOPE scholarship. In 2011 the Governor and a bipartisan group of legislators analyzed the numbers behind the HOPE program. With lottery revenues declining because of a down economy and a reduction in direct state aid to education, Georgia could no longer afford the original scholarship offering.
Tradeoffs were made, and legislators passed a restructured program which Governor Deal signed into law. The new scholarship covers 90% of tuition for students with above a 3.0 or 90% for current college students with a 3.3; high school graduates with a 3.7 would have 100% tuition scholarships. This was named the Zell Miller Scholarship. To assist students currently enrolled in college who had planned for a full HOPE award, legislators established a 1% loan program from state funds to cover the unexpected costs.
Despite multiple lean budgets this year the University system will see a boost in their appropriation. Governor Deal has also called for an additional 5 million dollars for a state-of-the-art cancer research center at Georgia Health Sciences University in Augusta and $4.23 million for new graduate medical residency slots statewide. Top-notch doctor training and medical care is essential for economic growth.
In total the state will spend more than $6 billion on Higher Education next year. Efforts and money spent to advance the educational levels throughout the state will produce a strong work force prepared for the challenges of the future. Next week we will examine the technical college system and analyze action in the legislature.
Notes of Interest
- HB 86 which would eliminate all state and local sales and use taxes energy used in manufacturing will have a hearing next week. The bill could be expanded to include agriculture and mining. We are pushing to make data centers exempt. This would be a huge win for North Fulton. This bill is sitting in the House Ways and Means Committee.
- Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones Constitutional amendment to allow for charter schools to be approved by the state was introduced on reported out of the House Education committee on Thursday. Proposed charter schools would first apply to the local board of education in the jurisdiction in which they are located and if denied, they could then apply to the Georgia Charter Schools Commission for a charter which, if granted, would entitle that school to state and some local school funding. This Constitutional amendment is in response to (and would overturn) the May 2011 decision of the Georgia Supreme Court which declared that only local school boards could approve charter schools. The amendment is HR 1162.