Representative Buddy Harden
The first day of the 2013 session of the Georgia General Assembly began on Jan. 14. Members were sworn in for a two year term and the House leadership was elected.
David Ralston was re-elected Speaker of the House and Jan Jones was re-elected Speaker Pro-Tem. Committee appointments were made by the Speaker and the Committee on Appointments.
I will serve as vice chairman of the Agriculture Committee, vice-chairman of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee, and secretary of the Small Business Development and Job Creation Committee.
In addition I serve as a member of the Appropriations Committee, the Health and Human Services Committee and the Banks and Banking Committee.
I also have been asked to serve as a deputy whip with House Majority Whip Representative Ed Lindsey.
After reapportionment in 2012 our District number is 148 and includes all of Crisp, Pulaski and Wilcox Counties and a portion of Houston County. I share Houston County with the finest House county legislative delegation in Georgia including House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, Representatives Willie Talton, Bubber Epps, and Robert Dickey.
I had an opportunity prior to the session beginning to visit with county and city local government and civic leaders throughout the District. I am confident that, under the local leadership in District 148, we will see the District move toward economic recovery and job creation in the coming months.
The Governor gave his State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate that included members of the judiciary, special guests and the public. In his address Governor Deal highlighted economic development, public safety and education as priorities while covering all areas of State responsibility.
I will not cover the details of his address in that I am sure most readers already have been informed through a variety of media.
One piece of legislation did pass the Senate this week dealing with the Hospital Medicaid Assessment. This fee brings back our federal tax dollars, for use at the State level, on a two for one match to ensure that hospitals are paid for at least a portion of the indigent care they are required to furnish and for which they are not compensated.
The money generated by this fee ensures that hospitals which furnish a high level of care for the indigent population can continue to operate and make their services available to the less economically fortunate.
The House will consider this legislation when the General Assembly returns on Jan. 28. All hospitals in District 148 have expressed support for this legislation.
I will cover this and other healthcare issues in more detail in the coming weeks. I am still of the opinion that the federal healthcare reform legislation is going to raise taxes and insurance premiums on all of our citizens regardless of income level and will result in a decreased quality of care while significantly increasing costs.
The House was not in session this past week, but the Appropriations Committee met jointly with the Senate Appropriations Committee to review the Governor’s budget proposals for the FY 2013 amended budget and the FY 2014 budget.
Governor Deal presented his budget and the Committee is meeting with State elected officials and agency department heads on the impact of the budget on their particular areas of responsibility.
I will have more information to share on the budget after the appropriations meetings. We are fortunate in Georgia to be one of only nine states that still have a triple A bond rating and the Georgia Constitution requires that we pass a balanced budget every year.
I appreciate the e-mails and calls that I receive from many of you on issues in which you have a particular interest. My contact information is cell phone 404-909-5767 and e-mail email@example.com.