Senator Tolleson: Update from the Capitol | Politics
By: Sen. Ross Tolleson (R- Perry)
Week 9 Column
It is that time of year again, the time of the year when Dublin is filled with visitors to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and the end of the legislative session is near. The pace is continuing to move quickly as we completed the 38th day of the legislative session on Thursday, March 13th. The 40th day, also referred to as Sine Die, will be on Thursday, March 20th, until then we will continue to pass legislation and work on the balanced budget late into the night.
The Dublin-Laurens Economic Development Authority visited the Capitol this week, this group does a fine job promoting the “location, leadership, and livability” of the area. We took time to discuss opportunities of economic stimulus and the happenings around the district and here at the Capitol. Wednesday, University of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray stopped by the Senate chamber. Murray is just as impressive off the field, as he is on the field and serves as a fine example of the type of graduates UGA produces year after year.
Thursday the Senate paused for a minute to honor former senator and friend, John Bulloch. It was great to see John in the chamber again and I wish him and his beautiful family all the best. We celebrated the annual Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Day on Thursday to thank them for their nonprofit work and years of service to the community through emergency services, aerospace education and youth development. Also, I had the privilege of introducing the Georgia Forestry Commission Units of the Year to recognize their continued achievements in leadership and education of protecting Georgia’s forest resources. Congratulations to the Chattahoochee/Marion Unit on being named the 2013 Southern Unit of the Year, Franklin/Hart/Elbert/Madison Forestry Unit for being named the 2013 Northern Unit of the Year and the Satilla District on being named the 2013 District of the Year.
A special organization called Street Grace also visited the Capitol this week. This innovative group mobilizes community resources — financial, human and material — to help individuals and organizations effectively fighting domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST) through awareness, empowerment and engagement. The efforts of this group to end DMST are impressive and deserve the upmost respect for their hard work.
Thursday, we finalized details on Senate Bill 213, otherwise known as the "Flint River Drought Protection Act" which addresses the drawing of water from the Flint River basin. After a compromise with the House, the bill will now affect four streams in southwest Georgia where water is occasionally added to protect threatened wildlife and will prevent individuals from drawing water from the streams when water is added to protect aquatic life. SB 213 is now in the Governor’s office awaiting his signature. We also granted final passage to the Jekyll Island Authority bill which will preserve the island’s natural beauty by retaining certain parts of the island as undeveloped land.
I am also pleased to report a timber theft bill cleared all the hurdles this week and will be signed into law soon. House Bill 790 would make thieves liable in civil court for three times the value of timber they steal or damage. Currently, it’s a one-to-one liability, however with the rising reports of timber theft, this raises the penalties to deter the theft of timber and protect our timber farmers. The House and Senate remain in a conference committee to iron out details of the Fiscal Year ’15 budget. The mandated, balanced budget will be voted on next week before or on Day 40.
I will continue spending a lot of time at the Capitol working for you, if there are any issues you wish to have addressed, I would love to hear from you. I look forward to continuing my service on behalf of my constituents in the 20th Senate District. Georgia is on the right track. I am confident that the steps we take this year will mean lasting prosperity for future generations of Georgians.