Week 9 & 10, Ending March 15 and March 22, 2019
At this stage of the 2019 session, with “Crossover Day” behind us, legislative and political posturing and maneuvering is in full-court press, to borrow from NCAA Basketball “March Madness” jargon. For a few days during Week 9, the Legislature is in a bit of a holding period while each body holds committee hearings on legislation that has “crossed-over.” During the upcoming week, two full days are set aside for committee hearings giving each body has ample time to consider and discuss bills that are still in play. This is also that time when Legislators have to be on full alert so bad legislation doesn’t slip through the cracks. As always, please contact me if you read, see or hear of legislation that I need to be alert to; I count on your eyes and ears to watch all of these moving parts.
This is a very personal, emotional issue for many and I believe I understand the argument that some women make that they do not want the government or anyone telling them what to do with their bodies or the babies they carry in their wombs.
In stark contrast to that view, I believe every life is precious and that abortion should not be used a “birth control” as opponents of HB481 support.
When a heartbeat is detected, then that is a clear, definitive sign of life, a precious life that deserves the full legal protection of the State of Georgia. In the Senate, there were a couple of substantive changes made to make the bill even better that I also support. Here is a link to an excellent explanation of the “Heartbeat Bill” by Sen. Ligon, of Senate District 3, with the Senator’s permission.Read more
In the coming days, the Governor will need to act on HB501, the bad Oyster Mariculture legislation. If the Governor allows this legislation to become law, it will hamper and stymie the growth of Georgia’s Oyster Mariculture industry – an industry that does not exist today. Industry producers and supporters strongly oppose HB501.
We have an opportunity to grow a small “wild oyster” industry into a multi-million-dollar “oyster mariculture” industry – but only if the Governor VETOs on HB501, and then supports passing good, industry supported legislation such as HB565 in 2020.
A constituent, whose county will directly benefit with the passage of good Oyster Mariculture legislation, gets it:
“I am so upset that politics crushed your excellent reasons for not wanting the "oyster bills" passed as written. Your reasons seem so rational and important! I am not anywhere near an expert in this field, but this "new" industry needs to get it right the first time!!!
Thank you, Jeff.
H. Langford - Darien, GA”
Google "Georgians First" and you are most likely to find something like this:
Week 8, Ending March 8, 2019
Thursday, February 28 this past week was that important annual legislative date we call “crossover day” in the Georgia General Assembly. Any bills not passed by either the House or Senate have no chance of being signed into law by Governor Kemp. Sometime that’s a good thing, except of course unless its legislation I am working on. That is said only partially tongue-in-cheek.
A Crisis in House Leadership
Because of the stand I and others have taken publicly regarding a serious crisis in our State General Assembly leadership at the highest levels, important legislation I have been working on in behalf of the citizens of Georgia is “politically” stuck, and will not move in 2019. I could easily spend this entire newsletter discussing this issue, so much more information that the public has yet to hear, but instead please indulge me while I share one particularly inspiring, but typical, comment I received from a District 167 supporter, and then I will move on to other important state matters:
“Thanks, Jeff. And thank you for standing up for all of us in your efforts to assure that our state leaders are worthy of honor. I stand with you.” - Mark N. Glynn County, GA
Week 7, Ending March 1, 2019
We ended the seventh week, also the 25th day, of the 40-day 2019 legislative session on Friday, March 1, 2019, after a five-day session; the month of February just flew by for me. Next Thursday, March 7 is “cross-over day”, that critical annual deadline when legislation must have passed out of at least one body (House or Senate) to continue to be in play for signing onto law in 2019.
Southwest Georgia Disaster Relief Continues
On Monday, the House passed another bill to support and provide disaster relief to farmers in South Georgia impacted by Hurricane Michael. Hurricane Michael had a catastrophic impact, what I would characterize as “generational damage”, on the citizens and the economy of southwest Georgia; agriculture was particularly devastated. Commercial pecan groves and commercial pine tree stands will take 10, 15 years and longer to return to their marketable maturity. As another common sense measure, House Bill 105 would provide a Georgia income tax exemption for income received as payments from a disaster relief or assistance program if those payments are connected to Hurricane Michael and administered by the United States Department of Agriculture. Those affected by Hurricane Michael would not be taxed on this federal aid over the next three years under this bill to ensure citizens are given the relief and time to rebuild Georgia's agriculture industry.Read more
District 167 Constituents of Glynn, McIntosh and Long Counties and Citizens and Residents of the State of Georgia.
As most of you know, I am working hard every day to represent the citizens of House District 167 and the State of Georgia by following sound and honorable practices. You are to whom I report and to whom I am held accountable in my legislative activities.
Today, February 22, 2019 ended day twenty of the 2019 session, and I am pleased to report that I am making significant progress on the legislation listed on my published 2019-20 legislative agenda. My progress includes filing the very important Georgia Mariculture Development Act of 2019 (HB450). I have hearings scheduled for two coal ash bills (HB93 & HB94) this coming Monday and Tuesday, February 25th and 26th, and a tentatively scheduled hearing on Oyster Mariculture next week as well. Plus progress on changing the drivers licenses issued too non-citizens in our state.
There are many activities going on in addition to working on my legislation.
Today, Friday, February 22, 2019, I signed on to a resolution asking House Speaker David Ralston to voluntarily step down from his position as Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Georgia General Assembly. This was not a decision taken lightly.
My dedication and commitment to work and honorably serve the citizens of District 167 and the State of Georgia is unwavering. Despite my having signed the resolution, I am fully expectant that Speaker Ralston will separate the politics of the office he holds as Speaker of the House of Representatives from fulfilling the same solemn oath both Speaker Ralston and I made on opening day of the 2019 session. The oath of service I made is to you.
In your service, I remain,
Week 5, Ending February 15, 2019
My colleagues and I returned to the Gold Dome in Atlanta on Monday, February 11 for the fifth week of the 2019 legislative session. We are now over one-fourth of the way through this 40-day legislative session, but we still have a great deal of work ahead of us. I still have a number of bills that I am still perfecting.Read more
Week 4, Ending February 8, 2019
Tuesday, February 4, marked the start of a very busy fourth week of the 2019 legislative session. The pace of the session is picking up, and this week brought about notable progress as we convened in the House Chamber for four legislative days and voted on the first bills and resolutions of the session. This week, the House passed several pieces of legislation on the House floor, including important measures like the Amended Fiscal Year 2019 budget and an adjournment resolution that sets the legislative calendar for the remainder of the session.Read more
Week Three, Ending February 1, 2019
The Georgia General Assembly returned to the Gold Dome on Monday, January 22, for the third week of the 2019 legislative session. Committee meetings started in earnest this week, some of them organizational while others are already working on significant and meaningful legislation. Despite the threat of severe winter weather socking in Atlanta, that ultimately did not materialize, and in full view of the looming Super Bowl 53 craziness happening in downtown Atlanta near the Capitol, the House continued to meet and work, as did our Committees. A forty-day session is not much time to work on legislation to get it through the committee process and to the House floor for a vote. As I have said in past newsletters, it is not easy to pass legislation in the Georgia House of Representatives, but that is in fact a good thing – except of course unless its legislation I am working on that I believe is important, then it should be easy, right – but everyone working legislation thinks the same thing.Read more
Opening Day of 2019-20 Session
On Monday, January 14, 2019, the second Monday of the new year, the Georgia General Assembly – the House of Representatives and the Senate - convened for the first day of the 155th Legislative Session of the Georgia General Assembly.
Since Monday marked the first day of the new 2019-2020 term, every member of the Georgia House of Representatives took the oath of office and was formally sworn in. As I hope you have learned about me over the past four years of legislative service, and prior to my entering the legislature, I take this oath and my commitment to serve honorably and honestly seriously. Thank you again for trusting me to represent your interests at the state level for another two-year term.
As I have explained in previous newsletters, the first week of the opening of Georgia General Assembly is dominated by procedural and ceremonial activities as the session officially convenes.Read more
Two Georgia Power plants, Wansley and Yates, sit along the banks of Chattahoochee River. (© Craig Tanner)
Atlanta, GA—At least 10 of Georgia Power’s toxic, unlined coal ash ponds sit dangerously close to the groundwater beneath them, according to the utility’s recent filings required under the federal Coal Combustion Residuals rule.
According to the utility’s disclosures for 10 of its 29 coal ash ponds statewide, all 10 ponds fail to comply with the location restriction that requires at least a five-foot buffer between the bottom of a coal ash pond and the underlying groundwater aquifer. In at least some cases, the coal ash ponds appear to be sitting in groundwater.
“Georgia Power’s coal ash ponds were built in the worst places possible – near streams, lakes, floodplains, next to rivers, and right above groundwater, and we now know that at least 10 of its ponds sit too close to the groundwater aquifer,” said SELC Senior Attorney Chris Bowers. “Where Georgia Power plans to just cap many of its unlined coal ash ponds in place, the utility’s own disclosures show the danger this ill-advised strategy poses to Georgia communities.”