Rep. Rakestraw’s Balanced Budget Bill Passes Georgia General Assembly

The bill, which originated in the Georgia House as HB794 under Rep. Rakestraw’s sponsorship, positions the Peach State to be the first to pass the Compact for a Balanced Budget. It now awaits Governor Nathan Deal’s signature.

State Rep. Paulette Rakestraw announced that on Wednesday, March 19, the Georgia Senate passed by a vote of 30-25 the Compact for a Balanced Budget Amendment.  “I am thrilled to see Georgia take the lead to restore fiscal responsibility in Washington,” said Rep. Rakestraw, the lead sponsor of the legislation.  Our Georgia lawmakers are saying, ‘Enough is enough’ to the burgeoning $18 trillion federal debt.  We are the first in the nation to call for an Article V constitutional convention of states to rein in out-of-control Washington spending.” The Amendment now awaits Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s signature.

Added Rep. Andy Welch, “We are excited to be passing the torch to the governor so he can fulfill his role in leading the Compact and we look forward to governors around the country banding together to balance our federal budget.”

The Compact for a Balanced Budget uses an agreement among the states called an “interstate compact” to invoke Article V of the United States Constitution in order to advance a federal balanced budget amendment. Once the Compact is passed in just two states, it will trigger the organization of a governmental body to coordinate Compact efforts throughout the country, creating a persistent institution with one objective: to pass a federal balanced budget amendment within seven years.

“This innovative reform is the sheet music that orchestrates a symphony of state motions and federal responses, folding hundreds of legislative steps into one simple, laser-focused piece of legislation,” said Nick Dranias, Goldwater Institute Constitutional Policy Director who led the drafting of the Compact for a Balanced Budget Amendment.

The Compact approach transforms the otherwise cumbersome state-initiated amendment process under Article V into a “turn-key” operation, empowering the states to agree in advance to all elements of the amendment process that states control under Article V in a single enactment that can be passed in a single session. Thirty-eight states would need to pass the Compact in order to approve the proposed balanced budget amendment, which could in turn by approved by a simple-majority congressional resolution.

Previous attempts at state-initiated balanced budget amendment conventions have encountered roadblocks amongst those who fear the possibility of a “runaway convention,” the scenario in which other key provisions of the U.S. Constitution could be repealed or additional provisions could be added. The Compact for a Balanced Budget Amendment addresses this concern by compelling all member state delegates to follow convention rules that limit the convention agenda to an up or down vote of the balanced budget amendment and to return home if those rules fail to hold.

“I am proud that Georgia has led the way in helping to restore fiscal responsibility to our nation,” said co-sponsor Sen. Hunter Hill, echoing Rep. Rakestraw’s sentiments. “I look forward to other states joining us in this effort.”

Georgia is just one state where the Compact for a Balanced Budget Amendment is moving ahead. The Arizona House passed an identical measure last week and will be considered by a state senate committee Thursday. In Alaska, house members will consider the reform this week. Additional states are expected to take up the reform this year.

To schedule an interview with Rep. Rakestraw, please contact Lauren Talley at (404) 656-0177.

Representative Paulette Rakestraw represents the citizens of District 19, which includes portions of Paulding County. She was elected into the House of Representatives in 2010, and currently serves as the Vice Chairman of Science and Technology. She also serves on the Economic Development & Tourism, Juvenile Justice, Small Business Development, and Special Rules committees.

Legislative Update — March 7, 2014

Greetings from the Capitol!

Monday, March 3rd marked the 30th legislative day of the 2014 session.  Known as “Crossover Day,” this critical point in the session is the last chance for bills to pass the legislative chamber from which they originated.  After Crossover Day, all legislation passed by the House must “cross over” to the Senate, and vice versa.  Any bill that has not been passed by either the House or Senate by the end of this day will have little chance of becoming law this year.  Due to this deadline, my colleagues and I in the House worked long hours on Monday to ensure that many important pieces of legislation were considered by the Georgia House.

One of the bills passed by the House on Crossover Day was House Bill 885, which would increase treatment options for children suffering from seizure disorders.  HB 885 would tightly restrict and regulate the distribution of cannabidiol, an oil-based derivative of the cannabis plant.  The derivative would only be available through medical trial at one of five Georgia academic research centers and prescribed by medical doctors.  The treatment has been used to successfully control seizure disorders for children in Colorado, and I hope that it can now give hope to families in Georgia.

Also passed on Crossover Day were bills designed to promote economic development in Georgia.  One such bill was House Bill 960, which aims to speed up the development of the Atlanta BeltLine project by enabling the private sector to help finance and build the transit project.  The BeltLine is a proposed 22 mile bike path and light rail system that will circle Atlanta.  It has been recognized by businesses all over the world for improving transportation and promoting a healthy lifestyle for Atlantans.  It is the most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States. I am proud that the Georgia House was able to adopt measures that will speed up this project.  I look forward to the Atlanta BeltLine bringing jobs and increased transportation options to the City of Atlanta.

Another economic development bill that was passed was House Bill 958.  One measure in this legislation establishes August 1-2, 2014 as a tax holiday for back-to-school shoppers.  Not only does this tax break provide financial relief for parents, it also encourages shoppers to do business in the state of Georgia.  Other measures in the bill give job-creating tax incentives to video game developers and developers of big, regionally important projects.

Finally on Crossover Day, we voted on legislation that would create new monuments at the State Capitol.  House Bill 702 would place a monument of the 10 Commandments, U.S. Constitution, and Georgia Constitution at the State Capitol to celebrate the ideals and values that these documents represent.  Similarly, House Bill 1080 would place a monument of Martin Luther King Jr. at the State Capitol in honor of his significant role in the history of Georgia and America. Many Georgians come to the State Capitol to tour and learn about the history of our state, and these two monuments will be great additions to our Capitol grounds.

After Crossover Day, we began reviewing and voting on Senate Bills.  One of those bills, Senate Bill 23, aims to speed up action in reported missing person cases.  The bill prohibits Georgia law enforcement agencies from establishing a “minimum waiting period” before they act on a missing person report.  The legislation defines a “medically endangered person” and adds these individuals to the provisions of the Mattie’s Call Act. Mattie’s Call is a law enforcement initiated alert system that is used to locate missing elderly or disabled persons.

Meanwhile, our colleagues in the Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2015 budget this week.  The full fiscal year budget uses a projected state revenue estimate to guide state spending from July 1 to June 30 of the following fiscal year. The Senate passed a slightly different version of House Bill 744 than we previously passed in the House, and it will now move to a House and Senate Conference Committee to work out a final spending plan to submit for a final vote of the full legislature.

In addition to passing bills last week, we also received some news related to the deepening of the Port of Savannah.  The Obama Administration’s 2015 fiscal year budget request was released, and it only appropriated $1.62 million for pre-construction, not the construction funds the state was expecting.  This news was disappointing, as we have been expecting $400 million from the federal government to be designated to the project over the next few years.  So far, Georgia alone has reserved $231 million to go towards the port, and we are planning for another $35 million this year.  Even through tough budgetary years, Georgia has remained committed to appropriating funds to the deepening of the Port of Savannah.  I’m disappointed that the federal government is not doing the same.  Not only will the port bring business and prosperity to Georgia, it will also improve import and export opportunities for the entire nation.  Understanding the importance of this project, Governor Deal announced plans to move forward with the project despite this setback.  The governor is exploring several options, including bonds and public-private partnerships. I support Governor Deal’s decision to move forward; deepening the port will allow our state to accommodate bigger ships and help boost our economy tremendously.

As we think through tough issues in the last days of session, I hope that you will contact me to express your ideas and opinions.  I am always happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding legislation.  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.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.

Best regards,

Rep. Paulette Rakestraw


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Legislative Update — February 28, 2014

Greetings from the Capitol!

The seventh week of the 2014 legislative session began on Monday, February 24, 2014.  This was a busy and important few days, as it was the last week for bills to pass out of committees, since “Crossover Day” is scheduled for Monday, March 3.   Crossover Day is the deadline in which a piece of legislation must pass at least one of the General Assembly’s two chambers.  With this date looming, we spent long hours at the State Capitol to ensure important pieces of legislation were either passed on the House floor or ready for a vote on Crossover Day.

Many of the bills passed during this crucial week were related to education and the welfare of our children.  One such bill was House Bill 826, which provides local school systems with more flexibility in handling violations of school safety zones.  Under HB 823, schools would no longer be forced to expel students who are caught with items like a fishing knife or a baseball bat in their cars on school campuses.  Currently, if a student is found on a school campus with these items in their vehicle, they are automatically suspended and charged with a felony. In these cases under this bill, local school systems will now be able to issue lesser penalties if they have no reason to believe that the student intended to use the object as a weapon.  Granting local school systems the authority to deal with these situations on a case-by-case basis will help prevent a student’s record and reputation from being tarnished with an offense that was actually an innocent mistake.

In addition to HB 826, which protects our children from unjust punishment, we also passed House Bill 804 to protect children from the psychological trauma that can result from testifying in court about cases of abuse.  Testifying before a court is an intimidating task, especially for a young child, and having to face an abuser can be even scarier.  HB 804 provides young victims with another option.  The bill allows them to testify remotely via live broadcast if the court agrees that testifying before the accused would cause serious physical or emotional distress for the victim.  Not only will this measure ease discomfort for victims, but it might also eliminate one of the barriers that prevents them from coming forward about their abuse.

We also passed a child welfare measure last week that would that would help prevent child abuse, but also track cases in the event of abuse.  Last week, we passed House Bill 923 to help ensure that cases of child abuse are treated with the seriousness that they warrant.  HB 923 increases public access to government records that relate to deceased children who had at some point come into contact with the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS).  The bill also updates the Child Fatality Review Board, which is responsible for examining DFCS cases that involve death.  It is our hope that this increased transparency and review, combined with an increase in DFCS employees, will ensure Georgia is doing everything possible to protect children from abuse.

In addition to passing these pieces of legislation aimed at protecting Georgia’s children, we also passed House Bill 549 to protect our state’s natural resources, such as our waterways and wildlife. This bill will help our state better prepare for a water pollution emergency, like the one recently experienced by West Virginia and the Ogeechee River Fish Kill in Georgia a few years ago.  HB 549 establishes a state water pollution emergency response plan.  The bill requires that the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) maintain an emergency response program to handle critical threats and pollution to our state’s water resources.  The bill also requires appropriate and timely responses to emergencies that threaten the state’s waterways.  Additionally, HB 549 requires that the EPD use proper public notification and coordination between the state and local communities to protect the health of Georgia’s citizens during emergencies and keep them informed.  I am proud that our state has taken these steps to protect our state’s citizens as well as the aquatic wildlife that live along our waterways.

Another important bill passed last week was House Bill 459. This bill will help decrease our motorists’ stress on Georgia’s highways.  HB 459 aims to encourage drivers to avoid driving in the passing lane for long periods of time.  Under HB 459, any driver on a divided highway who does not move to the right when a car going faster approaches them from behind could face a misdemeanor.  We hope that this legislation will remind everyone that the left lane on a highway is intended to be used for passing and cut down on cases of road rage in our state.

In addition to passing legislation last week, we also took some time to recognize a great Georgian and Olympian, Elana Meyers.  Elana, who hails from Douglasville, recently returned from Sochi, Russia, where she won a silver medal in the women’s bobsledding competition at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.  This was Elana’s second time at the Winter Olympic Games, after she won bronze in Vancouver in 2010.  I am proud that Georgia had such talented representation at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, and it was an honor to meet such a distinguished Georgian.

As we begin voting on more bills and resolutions every day, I encourage you to contact me at the Georgia State Capitol with your thoughts and opinions.  I am always happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding legislation.   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.

Georgia House Passes Compact for a Balanced Budget Sponsored by Rep. Paulette Rakestraw

State Representative Paulette Rakestraw(R-HD19)) announced the passage of House Bill 794 on Friday, February 21. Sponsored by Rep. Rakestraw, HB 794 proposes to amend the United States Constitution by adding a balanced budget requirement.

“I would like to see Georgia lead efforts around the nation to add this critical amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” said Rep. Rakestraw. “Doing so would enforce a policy of fiscal responsibility and ensure our federal government uses our tax dollars wisely. Runaway spending will cause a debt-fueled calamity in our great nation if we don’t stop it. This measure is critical for the prosperity of our citizens and our republic.”
The bill proposes to enter the state of Georgia into a compact with other states as part of an effort to require the federal government to balance its budget. This compact will bind all participating states with the agreed-upon compact in an effort to prevent what many fear could be a “run-away convention.” The compact actually proposes the amendment to the Constitution, specifically establishing the U.S. government’s spending limits as well as the level of its outstanding debt. Congress cannot authorize an increase in debt without approval from the states. The compact also raises the necessary approval threshold for a general revenue tax to a two-thirds vote of each chamber. It also has provisions for withdrawal, as well as the creation of a Compact Commission which will lobby states to join the compact.

Rep. Rakestraw has worked with the Goldwater Institute to draft the bill for Georgia. Goldwater Institute constitutional policy expert Nick Dranias said, “We are proud of Georgia’s state representatives for passing this historic measure, one that supports the concept of states working together to improve the performance of the federal government. The Compact for a Balanced Budget enables citizens to attack our $17.4 trillion federal debt, something that federal legislators and bureaucrats have proven unwilling to do, despite the ominous implications it has for future generations.”

Article V of the U.S. Constitution provides states with the right to make amendments to the U.S. Constitution by means of a constitutional convention. In order for a constitutional convention to be called, at least two-thirds, or 34 states, must petition on the same subject. Twenty states have already filed petitions on the subject of a balanced budget amendment.

Representative Paulette Rakestraw represents the citizens of District 19, which includes portions of Paulding County. She was elected into the House of Representatives in 2010, and currently serves as the Vice Chairman of Science and Technology. She also serves on the Economic Development & Tourism, Juvenile Justice, Small Business Development, and Special Rules committees.

Leadership Paulding Visits State Capitol

State Representatives Paulette Rakestraw (R-HD19) and Howard Maxwell (R-HD17) recently welcomed members of Leadership Paulding to the State Capitol.

“It was an honor and a privilege to visit with members from Leadership Paulding,” said Rep. Rakestraw. “These dedicated leaders have all made outstanding contributions to our great county.”

Sponsored by the Paulding Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Paulding is a nine-month program that provides a diverse group of existing and emerging leaders with a unique opportunity to experience many of the challenges facing Paulding. In addition to leadership training and development, the program provides a behind-the-scenes look into the following areas: Government, Education, Power, Growth and Development, Health and Human Services, Justice, and Regional Issues.

Representative Paulette Rakestraw represents the citizens of District 19, which includes portions of Paulding County. She was elected into the House of Representatives in 2010, and currently serves as the Vice Chairman of Science and Technology. She also serves on the Economic Development & Tourism, Juvenile Justice, Small Business Development, and Special Rules committees.

Gov. Deal with Leadership PauldingFirst row: Darlene Pendley, Mayes Ward Dobbins Funeral Home; Christine Mullinax, Cobb EMC; Dave Carmichael, Commissioner Paulding County Board Post 1; Mary Carol Sheffield, Paulding County Extension Office; Brian Bozarth, Raker Construction; Danita Elrod, Elrod Garden Center; Governor Nathan Deal; Representative Rakestraw; State Representative Kimberly Alexander; Junie Walton, Paulding County Airport Authority; Samantha Glass, All Print Marketing & Media Solutions, LLC; Sara Tonsmeire, Woodland Hills Golf Course; Mary Ann Phipps, Paulding County Fire Department; and Stephanie Hubbell, Chattahoochee Technical College.

Second row: Derrick Vincent, JACOBS Engineering; Kelly Meyer, Croft & Associates; Kelley Garner, Indigo Falls Events; State Representative Howard Maxwell; Robbie Rokovitz, City of Hiram; Richard Cole,istrict; and Ashley Henson, Paulding County Sheriff Department.


Legislative Update — February 21, 2014

The snow and ice melted from Winter Storm Pax, and we returned to Capitol Hill on Monday, February 17, 2014.  This was the sixth week of the 2014 legislative session and a very important one.  In that week, we passed the Fiscal Year 2015 budget, as well as many other significant pieces of legislation.

House Bill 744, the Fiscal Year 2015 budget, is an initial guide for all state spending to occur from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015.  The budget was set by a revenue estimate of $20.8 billion, a 4.6 percent increase from the Fiscal Year 2014 budget.  Nearly 72 percent of the new revenue is budgeted for K-12 and higher education expenses.  These funds, totaling $916 million, will help finance enrollment growth, increase opportunities for technical education, and distribute more dollars to local school systems in hopes of eliminating furlough days and raising salaries for teachers.  New revenue will also provide for an increase in salaries for correctional officers, additional child protective service workers and an extension of the Planning for Healthy Babies program, which helps prevent babies from being born at a low birth weight.

While we set education as our top priority in the budget, we also passed legislation to increase educational opportunities for Georgians.  House Bill 697 creates a Zell Miller grant scholar designation to cover 100 percent of tuition for those students who maintain a 3.5 GPA or above in Georgia’s technical colleges.  Since 2011, the last time HOPE provided a full scholarship to these students, technical college enrollment has declined by 20 percent.  HB 697 will help address this decline, bringing students back to school, so they can gain the skills needed to join the workforce.  This legislation also helps close a technical skill-gap, making Georgia more attractive to those businesses that are looking for skilled labor.

In addition to passing legislation to improve educational opportunities, we also passed several pieces of legislation to protect Georgians’ constitutional rights.  One such measure was House Bill 875, a comprehensive bill that expands Second Amendment rights for law-abiding citizens.   Under HB 875, Georgia Weapons Carry license holders would gain broader access to those government buildings that do not provide active security at entrances.  HB 875 also allows veterans under the age of 21 who have been honorably discharged from service to receive a weapons carry license.  Furthermore, it eliminates the re-fingerprinting requirement for weapons carry license renewals, prohibits the creation of a database of license holders and lessens the penalty for license holders who carry on college campuses.  In addition, HB 875 prevents the confiscation of weapons or ammunition by the state, which is currently legal in the event of a state of emergency declaration by the governor.

Private property rights are also expanded by HB 875.  Measures in the legislation enable property owners to decide on the prohibition or permit of weapons at churches and bars. Additionally, HB 875 gives school boards the opportunity and choice to arm employees under their well-thought-out guidelines and supervision.

While we want to protect the Second Amendment rights of responsible citizens, we also want to try to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands.   As a result, HB 875 includes measures to improve mental health regulations for Georgia Weapons Carry license applicants.  Under HB 875, licenses would be denied to any person who has been deemed “mentally incompetent to stand trial” or any person who is been deemed “not guilty by reason of insanity” at the time of the trial.  The bill also ensures that these individuals are reported within 10 days to the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC), so that probate judges can use GCIC to check the accuracy of every application form.

In addition to the Second Amendment, another imperative part of the U.S. Constitution is Article V.  Article V allows states to call a constitutional convention so that they can make amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  Under Article V, a constitutional convention may be called if at least two-thirds, or 34 states, petition on the same subject.  This week the Georgia House passed a series of bills and resolutions to call for a constitutional convention that would focus on adding a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.   Those pieces of legislation that were passed in the House this week were: House Bill 794, Senate Resolution 371, House Resolution 1215, and Senate Bill 206.  Since SB 371 has now passed both the House and Senate, Georgia will now become the 21st state to pass legislation calling for a convention of this purpose.  As a lawmaker that has worked to balance Georgia’s state budget year after year, I believe that Congress should be doing the same with our national budget.  Adding a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution would help control America’s growing debt and make the nation’s economic future more secure for our children and grandchildren.

In addition to conducting legislative business last week, we also took some time to honor Jim Chavers, the last surviving member of the 4th Marine Division that fought in Iwo Jima.  Considered one of the deadliest battles of World War II, the Invasion of Iwo Jima began on February 19, 1945 and lasted until March 26, 1945.  Chavers was one of only 60 survivors from his company of 250.  After his time in the Marines, Chavers served as a customs inspector for the U.S. Customs Service for 33 years.  It was a privilege to meet such an outstanding Georgian as Jim Chavers.  I am inspired by his dedication and commitment to this great country.

With less than a month left in the 2014 legislative session, 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.

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,

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 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.