Legislative Update — February 14, 2014

Greetings from the Capitol!

Monday, February 10, 2014, marked the 20th day and half-way point of the 2014 legislative session.  With only 20 days left to pass laws this year, we quickly got to work, voting on legislation and reviewing bills in committee.  Unfortunately, our week was cut short by snow and ice that came with Winter Storm Pax.  Despite the inclement weather, we were able to conduct business on Monday and Tuesday of last week.

House Bill 773 was one of the many bills passed on the floor during the first part of the week. This bill, aimed at improving public safety, would make it unlawful for anyone to unjustly discharge a gun or pistol on or within 50 yards of a public highway or street.  This bill excludes anyone who is firing a gun at indoor/outdoor shooting ranges, firearm safety course facilities sponsored by a government entity, and any business that is licensed as a firearm dealer. Also excluded is anyone who is legally hunting within 50 yards of a public highway or street. We hope that this measure will keep Georgia drivers and pedestrians safe while traveling on our state roadways.

Another measure taken up this week, HB 877, modernizes the code for golf carts on public paths and roadways, making Georgia a model for all states.  HB 877 sets rules of the road for those cities that have not already established their own golf cart laws.  It also maintains local power for those cities, such as Peachtree City, which already have well-established traffic laws for these vehicles. Georgia hosts the two leading manufacturers for golf carts, producing a total of 90% of golf carts in the world, and I’m proud that HB 877 makes our state an example for other states to follow in their use of motorized carts and personal transportation vehicles.

Additionally, our full Appropriations Committee met on Tuesday, and passed the Fiscal Year 15 (FY15) budget out of the Committee. This budget runs from July 1, 2014 until June 30, 2015. Now, we will wait for the FY15 budget, House Bill 744, to be placed on the Rules calendar where it will then be voted on in the House Chamber.

Although the snow and ice disrupted legislative business for the second half of the week, I was proud to witness Georgia’s response to Winter Storm Pax.  Immediately after the National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch for Georgia, Governor Deal put emergency response agencies on alert.  Department of Transportation crews pre-treated roads well in advance of the snow, and school districts closed schools so that children would be kept off of the icy roads.  As the storm drew closer, Governor Deal declared a state of emergency for affected counties and released government employees before the temperatures dropped below freezing.  I commend Governor Deal, state agency heads, and all emergency response employees for taking the appropriate steps for preparedness through these challenging weather conditions.

Now that the weather has improved, we will get back to work under the Gold Dome.  We recently passed an adjournment resolution, which calls for the 2014 legislative session to conclude on March 20.  We would love to hear your input on any bills that come before the House.  If you reside within District 19, and have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Lauren Talley in State Representative Paulette Rakestraw’s Office, 404-656-0177.

Best regards,

Rep. Paulette Rakestraw


Legislative Update — February 7, 2014

Greetings from the Capitol!

Last week, Winter Storm Leon brought snow and ice to many parts of our great state.  Leon’s impact on the metro Atlanta area was particularly harsh.  Schools, government, and private businesses, who originally believed the bulk of the storm would hit further South, all released their students and employees onto the highways on Tuesday when the snow began to fall.  The combination of icy roads and high volumes of traffic produced gridlock that forced many motorists to be stuck in hours-long traffic jams.  The Georgia National Guard, Georgia Department of Transportation, and state troopers quickly got to work to help stranded motorists find shelter and clear the roads of ice, snow and abandoned vehicles.  We were pleased to see that many Georgians reached out to those in need with a true spirit of Southern hospitality.  Given the conditions, the House postponed all legislative business on Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30.  This action helped ensure the safety of all Members and staff of the Georgia General Assembly, and also kept the roads clear of unnecessary traffic, so that GDOT could get our roads back up and running.

Despite Mother Nature’s disruption, we were able return to the House on Friday, January 31.  One of our first orders of business was the passage of House Bill 176, the “Mobile Broadband Infrastructure Leads to Development Act,” which could result in better cell phone service for Georgians.  This legislation would allow previously approved wireless support structures and wireless facilities to be modified without additional zoning or land use review beyond what is typically required by the local governing authority that issues electrical permits. House Bill 176 would streamline the permitting process for companies investing in wireless infrastructure, which would ultimately allow wireless telecommunication companies to increase the cellular bandwidth for Georgians.  Increased cellular bandwidth is not only crucial for business and recreational communication, but it is also an essential factor in public safety and emergency response.  For example, when thousands of motorists were stuck on the roads last week, many were unable to call their families and friends because phone lines were jammed.  Increased bandwidth would have allowed those motorists to more quickly communicate, so they could make those important phone calls.  HB 176 will now go to the Senate for consideration.

Also passed on Friday was House Bill 715, which clarifies the acreage of land permitted for development on Jekyll Island.  This bill states that the Jekyll Island Authority cannot convert more than 1,675 acres of the total land area of the island into developed land.  Additionally, HB 715 designates 12 acres for the expansion of an existing campground, 46 acres for public health, safety or recreation, and 20 acres for unrestricted use, which could be used for future commercial development.  Setting these standards for development will ensure that Jekyll Island remains a place of rest, relaxation and recreation for the thousands of Georgians who vacation there each year.

Senate Bill 297 was another piece of legislation that passed the House on Friday.  This bill made a technical change to an elections bill that passed in 2013.  It gives candidates for municipal or county office the option to waive campaign finance disclosure requirements if that candidate intends to accept or expend less than $2,500 on their campaign.  This bill will also cut unnecessary government regulations, so that citizens can more easily run for local office in their county or city.

In addition to passing these pieces of legislation this week, we also took time to recognize some of our brave Georgians in uniform.  On Monday, January 27, we celebrated Georgia National Guard Day in the House.  Dozens of airmen and soldiers visited the State Capitol, and we recognized their accomplishments on the House floor with House Resolution 1131.  We also had the great privilege to Skype with troops who are currently deployed in Afghanistan.  It was an honor to show our appreciation to these incredible heroes.  We are so grateful for their selfless actions both abroad and at home.

As the 2014 legislative session moves into its fourth week, we will be discussing and voting on more pieces of legislation.  We would love to hear your input on any bills that come before the House.  If you reside within District 19, and have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Lauren Talley in State Representative Paulette Rakestraw’s Office, 404-656-0177.

Best regards,
Rep. Paulette Rakestraw

Representative Rakestraw Leads Georgia Sponsorship of the Compact for a Balanced Budget

State Representative Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19) this week introduced House Bill 794, a bill that would enable Georgia to join with other states, including Arizona, Arkansas, and Alaska, in the Compact for a Balanced Budget. The Compact is an agreement among the participating states to invoke Article V of the U.S. Constitution to advance a powerful balanced budget amendment. Rep. Rakestraw is working closely with Rep. Andrew Welch (R-HD110), the Goldwater Institute, and Georgia legislative colleagues including Rep. Edward Lindsey (R-HD54), Rep. Josh Clark (R-HD98), Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-HD27), Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-HD115), and many others.

The Compact for a Balanced Budget is an innovative approach. It uses a binding agreement among the states to advance and ratify constitutional amendments, such as a balanced budget amendment, with the entire Article V convention process — including delegate appointments and convention rules — fully specified and safeguarded. Additional compacts, advancing many of the Liberty Amendments and other reform ideas that have supermajority support among the American people, will follow.

Rep. Rakestraw said, “This will be a breakthrough for the American people, as finally we will have the means to improve the financial health of our nation and stop the runaway spending in Washington. This forces Washington to live under a balanced budget like 49 of the 50 states do and like everyone else in American does.  Moreover, it limits Washington’s ability to raise the debt ceiling. This puts a structure in place that will incent lawmakers to cut spending first and raise taxes last to balance the budget, unless Washington chooses to move us to fairer, flatter tax model.”

She added, “I’d like to thank my co-sponsors of this important bill, especially Andy Welch, who has done great work in preparing this bill to go before the Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee. “

House Bill 794 now awaits a hearing and a vote by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, February 4, 2014, in Room 132 at the Capitol. Georgia could play a historic role in bringing fiscal reform to Washington because the first state to adopt the Compact will have the right to designate the convention Chair.

Rep. Rakestraw, Paulding County’s first female legislator, represents the citizens of District 19 in Paulding County.  She was elected to the House of Representatives as the Vice Chair for the Science and Technology committee and serves on the Special Committee for Small Business and Job Creation, Special Rules, Juvenile Justice, and Economic Development Committees. Follow Rep. Rakestraw’s legislative activities here.


Legislative Update — January 31, 2014

Greetings from the Georgia House of Representatives!

We began the second session of the 152nd General Assembly on Monday, January 13, 2014.  With a goal to get back home to our constituents by April, we hit the ground running.

On Wednesday, January 15, Governor Nathan Deal jump-started the session by revealing his goals for the year in the State of the State Address.

In his address, Gov. Deal detailed the exceptional progress Georgia’s economy has made since the Great Recession.  The state’s unemployment rate is at its lowest since 2009, and 217,000 jobs have been created in the past three years.  Lower unemployment means more Georgians are back at work, and state revenues are returning to pre-recession levels. Gov. Deal presented his ideas on how to best allocate state revenues in his amended budget for the Fiscal Year 2014 (AFY 2014), the mid-year spending plan, which helps fund the final few months of the current fiscal year, and full budget for Fiscal Year 2015 (FY 2015), the state’s budget from July 1 to June 30. He projects that revenues for AFY2014 and FY2015 will total $20.2 billion and $20.8 billion respectively.  Both figures are a slight increase from the $20 billion that was originally forecast for FY2014 last session.

Georgia’s education system ranked at the top of Governor Deal’s priority list in his address.  Among his goals for education was an increase in internet access at schools across the state, expanded online learning programs, and the creation of a new Zell Miller Hope Grant for technical college students who maintain a 3.5 GPA.  The Governor then delivered his budget proposal, detailing the funding for these, and other, state projects.

In his budget summary, Gov. Deal recommended that Georgia’s education system obtain the largest budgetary increase in the past seven years.  With a partnership between school systems, such funds have the potential to restore instructional days that were cut during the economic downturn and provide teachers with a much-needed and long-awaited pay raise.

Also included in the Governor’s budget proposal is funding to increase caseworkers for the Division of Family and Children Services, so that reports of child abuse and neglect obtain the attention they deserve.  Other objectives for the state include funding to deepen the Savannah port and the continuation of a three year plan for criminal justice reforms, which could help reduce recidivism and crime in Georgia.  Finally, the Governor’s budget proposals also increased funding for the juvenile justice system with the intent to improve the retention rates of juvenile corrections officers.

In addition to the State of the State address, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees began the process of reviewing the Governor’s budget recommendations and turning them into the actual legislation that will ultimately guide all state spending.  The process started on Wednesday, January 16th with a joint Appropriations Committee meeting.  Governor Deal led the presentations by detailing the major highlights of his budget proposals.  The Governor was then followed by the leaders of our state agencies, each of whom explained their agency’s budget and answered questions from House and Senate members.

Another milestone for the week was the House and Senate’s final passage of House Bill 310.  This legislation moves state and partisan county primary elections from July to May 20, so that the state elections will coincide with the federally mandated elections that were recently moved to May. If this fix had not been made, as voters we would have to vote at separate times to decide who we were going to send to Washington and who we were going to send to Atlanta.  The change in dates also provides troops overseas with more time to vote via absentee ballot.  For information about election dates and your voter registration status, visit the Georgia Secretary of State’s website, www.sos.ga.gov.

Finally, we also took some time this week to remember two great colleagues who passed away last year: Representatives Calvin Hill and Quincy Murphy.  Rep. Hill, from Canton, and Rep. Murphy, from Augusta, both served in the House for more than 10 years.  Their families visited the Chamber on Tuesday, January 14, to hear the readings of House Resolutions 1050 and 1051, which recognized the lives and accomplishments of the two representatives.  Reps. Hill and Murphy will be greatly missed, but their legacies will live on through their contributions to the state of Georgia.

Now that session has begun, I want you to know that I will be working hard every day we are in session in Atlanta.  I hope you will take the opportunity to review updates like this one to keep you informed about legislative matters.  You can also stay in touch by visiting our website at www.house.ga.gov to watch the House in action, view live and archived committee meetings, and review legislation that we are considering.  I also hope to hear from you on your ideas and opinions regarding the issues facing our great state.  Please call my office at the State Capitol in Atlanta and let me know what I can do for you.  The phone number is 404-656-0177. Thank you for your time.

Paulding Reservoir Becomes a Reality With State Funding

The Paulding County Legislative Delegation is proud to announce that Governor Deal is dedicating funding locally to the much needed Richland Creek Water Reservoir project in Paulding County.

The local delegation — which consists of Senator Bill Heath, Senator Bill Hamrick , Representative Howard Maxwell, and Representative Paulette Rakestraw — has worked closely with the Governor’s Office, the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to receive the necessary funding to build the Richland Creek Water Reservoir locally. This project is critical to solving the water shortage in the County and in the state.

According to Senator Heath, “This one of the most important infrastructure projects in West Georgia and exactly the kind of quality project our state government should be supporting. The Richland Creek project will protect the water resources of all the citizens of Paulding County and lessen our dependence on Cobb County for our water.  I look forward to assisting in the required permitting process and helping to secure water for Paulding’s future needs.”

And here is what Representative Maxwell has to say about the states contribution to the project, “I’m excited the Governor recognized that our project is one of the most viable water reservoirs to provide water to our state. I’m glad we could secure the Governor’s interest to move this project forward. We have a great delegation that works well together and I’m proud of the other Senators and Representatives in this district that worked with the local county officials on the effort to move this project forward in a big way.”

Representative Paulette Rakestraw states, “This project has been in the works for many years with our local leaders and I’m grateful to the Governor for helping Paulding County move forward with the funding of this much needed project. This will help our economic development efforts tremendously to continue attracting companies and new jobs for Paulding County residents. Economic Development is an area that I have put a great deal of focus into, working with our local and state officials and economic development folks, and I’m glad we were one of the first to be funded under the Governor’s Water Supply Program (GWSP).”

Paulding County was approved for a 40-year loan of $29,100,000 to construct a 305-acre pumped-storage reservoir on Richland Creek in northern Paulding County, with an intake on the Etowah River used to fill the reservoir. Paulding County is designing the reservoir with a projected yield of 35 MGD. The total cost of the reservoir project is $86,400,000, with the county providing $57,300,000 in funding. Paulding County will pay zero percent interest for the first three years of construction; 1 percent for the remainder of construction, accrued and capitalized; and 1.82 percent during the repayment period once construction is complete. The county will not be charged a closing fee.

Rep. Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19) Wins StudentsFirst Endorsement

Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19), Georgia State Representative from Paulding County, has been endorsed by Georgia Parents and Teachers for Putting StudentsFirst, the Georgia arm of StudentsFirst, a nationwide, bipartisan grassroots movement that works to focus the U.S. education system on what’s best for students. Legislators achieving the endorsement were evaluated based upon their responses to a questionnaire on education policies and, if incumbents, their record of support for common sense education reform efforts.

In the announcement, StudentsFirst said, “In her time in the House, Rep. Rakestraw has helped the cause of education reform by voting for HR 1162 (constitutional amendment authorizing charter schools), SB 184 (ending “last in, first out” layoff policies), and SB 410 (creating performance-based public ratings for schools). However, Rep. Rakestraw’s opponents in the primary prioritize the wishes of the education status quo instead of putting the interests of students first.”

Rep. Rakestraw said, “My position on education matters is very clear. When our students rank #26 in math and science when measured against other countries, our educational systems are failing. Our children will have to compete for jobs in the future in a global economy, against students whose education has better prepared them. Parents are ready for more educational choices that fit their children so they can succeed at learning. This will help our students in the future compete for jobs in a global marketplace. Teachers also want to be free of government paperwork and red tape that prohibit them from spending their time in the classroom teaching. The system is broken and StudentsFirst does a great job in shedding light on the problems we face in our schools all across America. I am very proud to been endorsed by this movement, which defends the interests of children in public education and pursues transformative reform.”

StudentsFirst is a bipartisan grassroots movement of more than 1 million members nationwide, working to focus our education system on what’s best for students, supporting common-sense reforms that help make sure all students have great schools and great teachers. Launched by former Washington D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee in December 2010, StudentsFirst has successfully helped pass more than 70 student-centered policies in 17 states, and our movement continues to grow.

Rep. Rakestraw, Paulding County’s first female legislator, represents the citizens of District 19 in Paulding County. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 and currently serves on the Children & Youth Committee, the Economic Development & Tourism Committee, and on the Special Committee on Small Business Development.

Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19) Provides Job Growth Update

Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19), Georgia House Representative from Paulding County, pointed today to new evidence that legislative actions continue to have a positive impact on bringing job growth to Georgia. The evidence came in the form of Governor Nathan Deal’s recent announcement that Interroll, the world’s leading supplier of conveyer systems and components, will locate its North American manufacturing plant, showroom facility and technology center in Paulding County. The company, based in Switzerland, plans to initially create 70 jobs and invest $10 million in the new, 93,000 square-foot operation.

“In the legislature, we have successfully taken steps to reduce taxes on manufacturing and on citizens, and to streamline government red tape,” said Rakestraw. “I have worked with Governor Deal on his Competitiveness Initiative and on the Small Business & Job Creation committee’s “Red Tape Watch” to identify areas where Georgia can reduce burdensome regulations on small business to improve the business climate in our state. Here in Paulding County, local leaders have created an ‘opportunity zone’ to attract businesses. Interroll’s announcement proves that these steps are working. Companies continue to move here and bring jobs with them. It’s a very exciting time for Paulding County and Georgia.”

On her website, Rep. Rakestraw provides a list of companies that have moved to Georgia in the last year alone.

Rep. Rakestraw, Paulding County’s first female legislator, represents the citizens of District 19 in Paulding County. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 and currently serves on the Children & Youth Committee, the Economic Development & Tourism Committee, and on the Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation.

Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19) Endorsed by Georgia Carry

Georgia State Representative Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19), Georgia State Representative from Paulding County learned this week of her endorsement for the July 31 Republican primary by Georgia Carry, the leader in the fight to reclaim and expand citizens’ right to bear arms. In a letter to Rep. Rakestraw announcing the endorsement, Georgia Carry Executive Director Jerry Henry cited her “continued support of the Second Amendment, dedication to protecting our individual right to self defense and dedication to restoring our rights as originally enumerated in the bill of rights of the U.S. Constitution.”

In a statement responding to the endorsement, Rep. Rakestrawk said, “I am honored to have been recognized by Georgia Carry, an organization that shares my views on protecting our second amendment rights. In my first session in the House, I co-sponsored a couple of key pieces of solid pro-gun legislation that unfortunately didn’t make it to the floor for a vote. I intend to continue working with the Georgia Carry and other like-minded organizations to make sure that our Second Amendment rights can withstand the constant attacks by the liberal left. I am proud to consistently support Georgia Carry with pro-gun legislation.”

With more than 6000 members, Georgia Carry is an information clearinghouse for Georgia Firearms License issues and news. It is Georgia’s no-compromise voice for gun owners.

Rep. Rakestraw represents the citizens of District 19 in Paulding County. She was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2010 and currently serves on the Children & Youth Committee, the Economic Development & Tourism Committee, and on the Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation.


Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19) Earns Award from American Conservative Union

Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19), Georgia State Representative from Paulding County, has earned the American Conservative Union’s (ACU) “ACU Conservative” award. The award recognizes Rep. Rakestraw’s voting record in support of legislation reflecting conservative principles during the 2012 legislative session.  The ACU recently released its inaugural rankings of the Georgia General Assembly, which include scores for state House and Senate members based upon their votes on legislation the ACU deemed important to conservative principles.

“As a consistent, common-sense conservative, I am proud to uphold the conservative principles that the vast majority of my constituents sent me here to represent.  This award reflects and validates my conservative voting record and I am proud to have received this most high honor,” said Rep. Rakestraw.

For 2012, the ACU tracked a wide range of issues before the General Assembly to determine which issues and votes served as a clear litmus test for a representative’s conservative principles.  According to the ACU, this includes support for a constitutionally limited government, individual liberty, free markets, a strong national defense and traditional values.

This is the first year the Georgia General Assembly was rated by the ACU.  In 2011, the ACU expanded its annual Ratings of Congress to include ratings of state legislators in Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. This year, the ACU further expanded its rating program to state legislators in 15 additional states.

“I am proud to present the inaugural Georgia ACU awards to those conservative state legislators who continue to fight for fiscal responsibility, the rights of the unborn and the Second Amendment,” said Al Cardenas, Chairman of the American Conservative Union.

Founded in 1964, the American Conservative Union represents the views of Americans who are concerned with economic growth through lower taxes and reduced government spending and the issues of liberty, personal responsibility, traditional values and national security.

Rep. Rakestraw represents the citizens of District 19 in Paulding County. She was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2010 and currently serves on the Children & Youth Committee, the Economic Development & Tourism Committee, and on the Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation.


Rep. Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19) Endorsed by Small Business

Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19), Georgia House Representative from Paulding County, has been endorsed by The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Georgia’s leading small-business association, in the House Republican primary on July 31.

The endorsement was made by NFIB/Georgia SAFE (Save America’s Free Enterprise) Trust, which is composed exclusively of NFIB members.

“Representative Rakestraw understands the challenges facing Georgia’s small, family businesses and is the clear choice in the race for the 19th House District,” said Kyle Jackson, state director of NFIB/Georgia. “We believe Paulette Rakestraw will continue to take a fiscally responsible approach to managing state government and support legislation that helps our small businesses grow and create jobs and puts the state back on the pathway to success.”

Said Rep. Rakestraw, “It’s a real honor to receive this endorsement from NFIB. As a member of the Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation, much of my energy in my first term in the House was devoted to creating an environment conducive to job growth in the small business sector. I am definitely supportive of the NFIB business-growth initiatives.”

The NFIB/Georgia SAFE Trust’s endorsement is critical to the Braddock campaign. Small business owners and their employees vote in high numbers and are known for actively recruiting friends, family members and acquaintances to go to the polls. NFIB has pledged it will activate its grassroots network on behalf of the campaign. NFIB’s political support is based on the candidates’ positions and records on small business issues.

Rep. Rakestraw represents the citizens of District 19 in Paulding County. She was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2010 and currently serves on the Children & Youth Committee, the Economic Development & Tourism Committee, and on the Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation.

NFIB is the nation’s leading small business association, with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small- and independent-business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIB’s powerful network of grassroots activists sends its views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member-only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting America’s free enterprise system. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses. More information about NFIB is available online at www.NFIB.com/newsroom.