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.

Representative Rakestraw Honors Vets in Paulding

Paulding County, GA – State Representative Paulette Rakestraw of Paulding County, Georgia attended the second annual Paulding County Air Show, entitled Salute America 2013. One segment of the show was a ceremony recognizing local veterans for their service to our country.

Rep. Rakestraw arranged for Major Donald Glenn Karr, a 94-year-old veteran who served as a pilot in the Air Force during World War II, to be honored in the ceremony as a VIP.  Major Karr’s granddaughter, Ms. Susan Leslie, escorted him and  the two spent time together in the VIP tent watching the air show and later attended a dinner specifically honoring the veterans.

Other prominent local citizens who are also veterans were also honored at the air show.  Dr. John Covington, a retired physician, trained as a pilot in the Air Force.  State Representative Howard Maxwell (R-17) served in the Army in Vietnam, and Post 1 Commissioner Dave Carmichael served in the Marine Corps.

“It was such an honor and a privilege to recognize Major Karr at the air show; he is an amazing gentleman,” said Rep. Rakestraw.  “I am always honored to meet our veterans and am so thankful for their sacrifice and service to our country.  Major Karr earned a Silver Star for his service and I am very proud that I’ve had an opportunity to talk with him about his experiences.  It humbles me to know the sacrifices these great men and women have made to protect our freedom.  I always keep that in mind when voting for legislation that impacts Georgians lives because so many have sacrificed so much to protect that freedom.  I am grateful that I was able to talk with many veterans at the show and thank them for their service as well.”

The Salute America Air Show is an annual event hosted at the new airport in Paulding County.  It is a non-profit event for the community and proceeds go to support several local charities.  The Air Show is recognized as a fabulous event for the whole family.

Rep. Rakestraw, Paulding County’s first female legislator, represents the citizens of District 19 in Paulding County. Paulette is the Vice Chair for the Science and Technology committee and serves on the Special Committee for Small Business and Job Creation, Special Rules, Juvenille Justice and Economic Development Committees.

Representative Rakestraw Supports Habitat for Humanity

Paulding County, GA – State Representative Paulette Rakestraw (R-19, Paulding County) attended a chili cook-off event in Cherokee County, with Habitat for Humanity as the primary beneficiary.

 

The chili cook-off is a local event hosted by the Cherokee Association of Realtors.  The purposes of the event are to engage realtors in networking opportunities, to support their local communities, and to raise money for charity.

 

A three-judge panel selected the prize-winning chili recipes.  Third place went to Chris Coulter with Supreme Lending, second place went to Kathy Delbridge with Success Mortgage Partners, and first place was won by to David Moody, President of ERA Sunrise Realty.  The People’s Choice Award went to Jimmy Bracco.

 

The event was well attended, with proceeds going toward Habitat for Humanity.

 

“I am happy to support our realtors and Habitat for Humanity,” said Rep. Rakestraw.  In the legislature, I stand with the realtors in Georgia in support of private property rights. Those rights are at the core of what makes America great and they differentiate us from other nations.”

 

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, Juvenille Justice and Economic Development Committees.

Representative Paulette Rakestraw Visited YMCA Paulding Early Childhood Development Center for Georgia Pre-K Week

Hiram, GA, — Representative Paulette Rakestraw sat alongside a group of 4-year-olds on Oct 4, 2013, reading to the group from a favorite children’s book as part of Georgia’s Pre-K Week. Around the state, attention will be turned to the tens of thousands of Georgia’s youngest children in celebration of the important work they are doing to prepare for school success.

September 30-October 4 is the state’s official Pre-K Week, hosted by Voices for Georgia’s Children (www.georgiavoices.org) and its Pre-K Week partners.  Representative Rakestraw is one of nearly 150 officials who will visit some of the approximately 3,800 Pre-K classrooms located in all 159 counties in Georgia.

“We know that early childhood education is critical to future success, and preparing for elementary school is an important part of life for a child from birth through age five,” said Representative Rakestraw.  “We are thrilled to be honoring our some of our youngest learners this week, and proud of what our state is accomplishing through Georgia’s Pre-K program.”

Representative Rakestraw participated in a reading activity with the children, toured the facility, talked with the staff, and got an up-close look at the many ways that the center is supporting early learning.

“Georgia’s Pre-K program is an exceptional program that can serve as a model for our country,” said Pat Willis, Executive Director of Voices for Georgia’s Children, a child advocacy organization. “About 84,000 four-year-olds in Georgia benefit from this remarkable program, a milestone in the critical phase of education that takes place from birth to age 8.”

 

 

 

Joining Voices for Georgia’s Children as partners on Georgia Pre-K Week are Black Child Development Institute Atlanta (http://bcdi-atl.org), Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy (www.ferstfoundation.org), Georgia Association for Young Children (www.gayconline.org), Georgia Child Care Association (www.georgiachildcare.org), Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (www.geears.org), Georgia Family Connection Partnership (www.gafcp.org), Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (www.gpee.org), Georgia Public LibraryService (www.georgialibraries.org), JumpStart(www.jstart.org),  Multiple Junior League Chapters (gajlspac.org), Quality Care for Children (www.qualitycareforchildren.org), United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta (www.unitedwayatlanta.org) and YMCA(www.ymcaatlanta.org).

About Voices for Georgia’s Children

Established in 2003, Voices for Georgia’s Children (www.georgiavoices.org) is a nonprofit child policy and advocacy organization that envisions a Georgia where children are safe, healthy, educated, employable, and connected to their family and community. Our mission to be a powerful, unifying voice for a public agenda that ensures the well-being of all of Georgia’s children.

About “Pete the Cat”

Voices for Georgia’s Children is proud to have “Pete the Cat” as the honorary mascot for Pre-K Week.  “Pete the Cat” (www.petethecat.com) is the creation of Georgia artist James Dean who illustrated the book, Pete the Cat And His Four Groovy Buttons, written by Georgia children’s author Eric Litwin.  Through the generosity of Dean, Litwin, and HarperCollins Publishers, Voices for Georgia’s Children was able to provide copies of Pete the Cat And His Four Groovy Buttons to all legislators for their use in reading to Pre-K students across the state.

Representative Rakestraw Works For Georgia Job Growth

Paulding County, GA – State Representative Paulette Rakestraw of Paulding County traveled this week to Savannah to meet with members of the Georgia Association of Economic Developers (GEDA).

While in Savannah, Representative Rakestraw spoke with new Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Gretchen Corbin and Tom Croteau, the new Deputy Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, to gain insight into their new positions and their visions for shaping their departments to support Georgia’s strategic plan for Economic Growth.

Representative Rakestraw also talked with Jay Neely, Corporate Counsel for Gulfstream, about Gulfstream’s successful story of growing jobs and investing capital resources into Georgia.  Gulfstream has made huge capital investments in the Savannah area, bringing millions of dollars in investment and substantial job growth to the region.

Rep. Rakestraw toured the Port of Savannah and talked with Curtis Foltz, the Executive Director of the Georgia Ports Authority, about growth projections for the Port of Savannah and the future impact it will have on Georgia’s Economy.  The Georgia Ports are credited for creating over 317,777 jobs across the state.  Over 156,698 jobs have been created in the Atlanta Region with 23,749 of those in the Northwest Region of the state, where constituents of Representative Rakestraw Braddock are employed.  The job growth projections are expected to grow substantially in Georgia over the next ten years.

Rep. Rakestraw, Paulding County’s first female legislator, represents the citizens of District 19 in Paulding County and is passionate about economic development for Georgia.  Paulette is the Vice Chair for the Science and Technology committee and serves on the Special Committee for Small Business and Job Creation, Special Rules, Juvenille Justice and Economic Development Committees.

State Representative Paulette Rakestraw (R-19), Tom Croteau, Deputy Commissioner, CDEcD, Gretchen Corbin, Commissioner, DCA, Chairman of Economic Development, Ron Stephens (R-164).

Jay Neely, Corporate Counsel for Gulfstream Air with Representative Paulette Rakestraw (R-19)

 

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.