On Monday, January 22, the House convened for the third week of the 2018 legislative session. By the end of this week, we completed Legislative Day 10, which means the General Assembly is now one-fourth of the way through our 40-day session with just 30 legislative days remaining. This week was busy and productive, and the pace has noticeably picked up as House committees met more frequently to consider and vet proposed legislation. The House also saw measures introduced this week that were recommended by our interim House councils and commissions, and we worked with the Senate and passed an adjournment resolution that set our legislative schedule for the remainder of the session. While it may seem like we have a great deal of time left in the 2018 session, we have several important issues to address before adjourning Sine Die.
Although Georgia’s economy has grown exponentially over the past several years, not all parts of our state have experienced the same levels of prosperity. For this reason, the House is heavily focused on improving economic opportunities for our state’s rural communities. Last session, we adopted House Resolution 389, which established the House Rural Development Council (RDC). During the interim, the members of the RDC traveled to many different rural communities across the state and met with local leaders, studied issues specific to Georgia’s rural areas and explored ways to encourage economic growth. The RDC closely examined the components of economic development and related policy areas, such as education, infrastructure, access to health care and economic growth incentives. Then, in December, the RDC released the first of two reports outlining several legislative recommendations that would boost rural Georgia’s economic opportunities. This week, we saw the first rural development-related bill, House Bill 735, be introduced for the House’s consideration. HB 735 would create a tax credit for short line railroad track maintenance expenditures to incentivize investment in rail infrastructure in rural Georgia. This measure is likely the first of many pieces of legislation that we will consider this session to help Georgia’s rural communities grow, and the RDC’s proposals are a result of the council’s findings and hard work during the interim. Since this bill was just introduced this week, it will now make its way through the legislative process, and I will update you as it moves through the House.
Our state’s continued economic success largely depends on a connected and efficient transportation network, which is why transit is also a top priority in the House this session. During the 2017 session, we adopted House Resolution 848, which established the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding. This commission is charged with studying our state’s transportation needs and exploring ways our state can sufficiently plan and provide for those needs. Like the RDC, the transit commission held hearings across the state during the summer and fall of 2017, and this session, we can expect to see legislation come up aimed at meeting Georgia’s wide-ranging transit needs as a result of the commission’s report. Both the transit commission and the RDC have worked diligently since the end of the 2017 session to study pressing issues facing to our state, and it is exciting to see initial proposals come to fruition in the form of legislation.
We also worked with our counterparts in the Senate and adopted another adjournment resolution this week, which determined our calendar for the remainder of the 2018 legislative session. Legislative Day 40, or Sine Die, is the final day of the legislative session and will be Thursday, March 29. Until then, my House colleagues and our Senate counterparts have a busy and aggressive schedule and will be working diligently to pass meaningful bills for Governor Nathan Deal to consider signing into law.