Last week, the Senate took time to honor some of the bravest and most selfless members of our communities, firefighters. Georgia is home to over 30,000 firefighters across 900 separate fire departments and as a former fire chief myself, I know first-hand that these men and women go to work each day, with full knowledge that they might not ever make it home. They work day and night to protect life and property from the devastation of fire.
In honor of their selflessness and dedication to this state, the Senate proclaimed February 4, 2020 as Firefighters Recognition Day at the state Capitol. While a resolution pales in comparison to the sacrifice shown by our firefighters daily, I hope it can serve as a reminder to never forget those who dedicate their lives to our protection.
We also passed an important piece of legislation that addresses the rising trend of the use of electric scooters in some of our state’s cities. Senate Bill 159 would provide a codified definition of an electric scooter, but leave much of the regulation of these devices up to the individual counties and municipalities across our state. These electric scooters are vital methods of transportation for many students and employees in Georgia, but we also recognize that each community may have different levels of pedestrian or vehicle traffic that may make the use of such a device hazardous. This bill strikes a good balance of letting each locality decide for themselves how to best regulate this new technology.
This week was yet another busy one here at the state Capitol. Although we did not convene for any legislative days, we continue to put a heavy emphasis on the budget as we ensure each dollar is benefiting the great state of Georgia. Moving forward, the budget will continue to be an essential part of this legislative session while we fulfill our constitutional obligation of passing a balanced budget.
Over the course of the week, Senate Appropriations subcommittees met to hear a line by line analysis of each agency’s budget and a summary of changes from agency executives. As the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Economic Development, it is important to me that we cultivate an economic environment conducive to continued growth. Georgia has been rated as the number one state in which to do business for six years in a row and we do not want to see that title change anytime soon. Over the next few weeks, the legislature will continue to look over the proposed budgets of each state agency to ensure that the needs of our state are met.
Tuesday, the state unveiled the new Nathan Deal Judicial Center, where many of Georgia’s state courts and judges will be housed. The building’s name reflects the legacy of former Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and his lifelong pledge to not just ensuring justice for all, but also his commitment to reducing recidivism and rehabilitating past offenders. I also had the opportunity to meet with United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who delivered the keynote speech to commemorate the new building.
Next week, the Senate will return to session on Tuesday, February 18. We will convene for four legislative days, in addition to numerous committee meetings that are scheduled to take place. If I can ever be of assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office here at the Capitol. I am always more than happy to be of service, and I look forward to continuing to represent your interests in Georgia.