|State budget, annexation, gun safety among top 2013 legislative issues|
|Written by Joshua Smith|
When the 2013 Georgia Legislative session begins on Jan. 14, state lawmakers say the state’s budget, annexation and gun laws will be among the lightning rod issues.
State Rep Howard Mosby, who chairs the DeKalb Delegation, said with Republicans pledging to fight the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” he is concerned many of the state’s Medicare recipients will be adversely impacted.
“With the President’s Medicaid expansion program scheduled to take effect, the state still has a $400 million deficit to address,” said Mosby. “Everything weighs heavy on the budget. It is usually a long process putting the budget together because everything has a cost and everything has a value to the community.”
State Rep. Rahn Mayo, who represents District 91covering Decatur, agrees.
“We have to balance every budget we pass. There will be a lot of challenges in respect to the state budget and other issues we will be up against,” said Mayo.
Gov. Deal has said Georgia will not set up a state health insurance exchange as mandated by the Affordable Health Care Act. The governor cited unknown costs, lack of flexibility, and lack of state control in his decision to reject the exchange. The Supreme Court ruled last June that the federal government could not compel states to create the exchanges or expand Medicaid as the Affordable Care Act attempts to do.
“We have no interest in spending our tax dollars on an exchange that is state-based in name only,” Deal said in a press release. “I remain committed to common sense health care solutions that empower consumers to take responsibility for their own health, motivate the private sector and drive efficiencies for consumers, employers and governments alike.”
Annexation is another issue that lawmakers expect to address during this year’s session. DeKalb, in particular, has dealt with proposed citihoods for a number of communities seeking to start their own cities, as well as existing cities trying to annex additional areas.
Mosby pointed to the city of Decatur’s proposal on the table to annex the Suburban Plaza area at North Decatur Road and Church Street.
“We’re going to have to work closely with DeKalb County commissioners and the city of Decatur. I would like to know the potential economic loss to the county if that area is annexed into Decatur,” said Mosby, who represents District 90, which includes parts of Atlanta. “I still need to hear both sides.”
Meanwhile, Mayo says he plans to look at ways to provide safer roads in Georgia. Mayo pre-filed a bill on Dec. 27—HB-31, which stipulates that motorists use headsets while driving and talking.
“We need a bill that will directly address motorists who are talking on mobile devices while driving,” said Mayo. “This bill would make safer roads and a safer state in the long run. A hands-free bill would also decrease traffic accidents and fatalities in the Georgia.”
A least one state lawmaker—Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta)—is looking at gun safety in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut that left 26 school children and faculty shot to death by a 20-year-old man who entered their school. Fort said he plans to push for reform that would ban assault weapons in Georgia. The National Rifle Association has argued for armed guards to be posted at all schools to ensure safety, other local reports show that Georgia School Superintendent John Barge supports that idea.
“As a father, I have watched the events in Newtown unfold with pure horror,” said Fort, who is the Senate Minority Whip. “The time has come for reform so that these kinds of tragedies throughout the country are eradicated. How many more innocent children must be killed before we act? I am calling on my colleagues in the Georgia General Assembly to join me in passing legislation that will help to end these senseless acts of violence for once and for all.”
Lawmakers prepare for Wild Hog Supper
State lawmakers say the 51st Annual Wild Hog Supper will be a great time to network and get to know your state officials, from the Governor on down, over some great barbecue.
The supper will be held on Jan. 13, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., at the Georgia Railroad Depot, 65 Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive, S.E., Atlatna.
“The Wild Hog Supper is always a good time for fellowship and bonding, it’s basically the unofficial kick off for the legislative session. It’s always a lot of fun,” said State Representative Mayo. “I appreciate being apart of my fifth supper and my fifth year in office.
The supper, a Georgia tradition dating to 1962, marks the opening of the legislative session each year. In recent years, the Atlanta Community Food Bank has collected non-perishable food items donated by attendees.
Another reason State Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, District 94, says the supper isn’t all about the grub.
“The supper provides a great arena for reconnecting with people such as community leaders, fellow politicians and concerned members of the public,” said Kendrick.
The pre-legislative feast has been held for the Georgia Legislature every year for the past five decades. It takes place in downtown Atlanta at the old train depot near Underground Atlanta and is attended by hundreds of people—lawmakers, the governor, state officials, reporters, lobbyists and anybody else who buys a ticket.
Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased online: http://georgiafoodbankassociation.org/contact-us/wild-hog-supper-tickets/.