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Local lawmakers name priorities for General Assembly
by Savannah Weeks
January 10, 2013 09:55 AM | 1343 views | 1 1 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The 2013 Georgia General Assembly starts Monday, and one hot topic for local legislators will be ethics reform.

District 52 State Rep. Joe Wilkinson, R-Sandy Springs, has served as chairman of the House Ethics Committee for nine years.

“We plan on making some changes to the current ethics laws,” he said. “Even though we have some of the toughest in the country, there seems to be a media-driven push for changes in ethics laws.”

Wilkinson said he felt there was a misconception regarding ethics in the House. “The fact that there are almost 10 million people in the state of Georgia and not one has come forward with a single shred of evidence of wrongdoing…” he said. Wilkinson will co-sponsor the ethics bill with House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. The bill is still being drafted.

Another hot topic all lawmakers agree will be important this year is the state budget.

“We’re required by law to have a balanced budget,” Wilkinson said “We’re going to have to work very hard to do that given the revenue shortfalls.”

District 49 State Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, said he is sponsoring several bills this year. House Bill 1 will reform the state’s forfeiture laws. The legislation standardizes the state’s forfeiture provisions and condenses forfeiture laws into one primary code section.

In addition, the representative is involved in the rewrite of the juvenile code and incorporating recommendations from the state’s criminal justice department. “The bill was held last year at the governor’s request for more research,” said Willard.

He is also involved in writing a bill that will strengthen the laws on physical, mental and financial abuse of Georgia seniors. “Locally, we’ll be looking a lot at the governments of Fulton County and the reapportioning of the commission seats,” he said. “That’s an important issue.”

District 50 State Rep. Lynne Riley, R-Johns Creek, said last week in a news release she would continue an effort to re-create Milton County, which would include Sandy Springs.

District 32 State Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, who represents part of Sandy Springs, said he planned to sponsor several measures regarding transportation and healthcare. “I fully expect that the 2013 session will be dominated with challenges balancing our state budget,” he said. “The mounting costs and federal mandates for governmental healthcare programs like Medicare and Obamacare, coupled with the fiscal uncertainty at the federal level, make it very difficult for the governor to clearly estimate state revenues.”

Hill said this issue could delay the creation of a budget until February. “Also before the Legislature, we expect to see for consideration controversial proposals to renew the hospital bed tax and to increase the Georgia Dome’s bonding limits to help the [Atlanta] Falcons with their proposed new stadium,” he said.
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January 10, 2013
Regardless of the issues, should decisions be made based solely on things that are media driven? What drives the media? Are we presenting legislation based on what the operators of news organizations want? That's stupid.
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