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.
Rep. Paulette Rakestraw