The 2017 Legislative session is rapidly coming to a close. With only a few legislative days remaining to complete our work before sine die, the House has moved through a packed agenda these past few weeks. We continued meeting in committees to review bills and voted on significant pieces of legislation on the House floor. Sine die is around the corner, and the pace is steadily picking up.
Rural economic development
I believe that one of the most important pieces of legislation that we will pass all year is House Resolution 389 which creates the House Rural Development Council. This group will work to identify the challenges and economic development opportunities in Georgia’s rural communities, an issue that is extremely important to our area.
The council would be made up of 15 members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker, and would be tasked with examining the various challenges facing rural areas across our state. They will also explore potential solutions in areas such as education, infrastructure, health care access and economic growth incentives to revitalize our rural areas. I have already talked with the Speaker about a possible appointment to the council, but no matter the membership, I will be offering input and suggestions.
Although Georgia is the No. 1 state in the nation to do business, not all parts of our state have enjoyed the same levels of economic success, and rural Georgia faces its own unique challenges. The House Rural Development Council will provide us with the opportunity to examine and seek solutions and I look forward to seeing all of Georgia thrive as a result of this groups work.
‘Back the Badge’ license plates
Last week we overwhelmingly passed a bill to honor our state’s law enforcement officers and give Georgians a way to show their appreciation to these brave men and women. SB 169 would create a specialty license plate with the phrase “Back the Badge” displayed across the bottom of the plate in support of Georgia law enforcement officers. These license plates would be available for purchase, and the proceeds would be distributed to the Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund of Georgia, a fund that prepares Georgia’s peace officers for retirement and provides retired law enforcement officers with pension benefits.
This measure provides a way for Georgians to thank and express support for all the officers who put their lives on the line, and I was pleased to see it pass.
The House also passed another bill last week which recognizes another important group of our public safety personnel. HB 146 would require fire departments to provide adequate insurance coverage for Georgia’s firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Because of their line of work, firefighters are exposed to dangerous cancer-causing carcinogens, and according to research, firefighters are more likely to be diagnosed with certain cancers than the general population. Our firefighters selflessly put themselves in harm’s way, in spite of the health risks associated with their occupation, and this bipartisan measure received overwhelming support in both the House and Senate.
This legislation will now go to Governor Deal’s desk for final consideration.
Georgia National Guard recognized
Finally, the House recognized our citizen soldiers in honor of National Guard Day. Adjutant General Joe Jarrard and members of the Georgia National Guard joined us and were presented with House Resolution 173 commending their outstanding service. As a side note, Georgia’s Army National Guard is the eighth largest in the country, and last year alone, the Georgia National Guard deployed more than 600 soldiers and airmen. Our Guard and their families all deserve our utmost support and appreciation.
With only a few legislative days remaining in the 2017 session, the House will be busier than ever. There’s still a lot of work ahead, but as always, you’re my top priority. If you have a question or concern, I can be reached in Atlanta at 404-651-7737 or locally at 706-754-0706. If it’s easier, email me at Terry.Rogers@house.ga.gov. Thank you for giving me the privilege of representing you!
About the author: Rep. Terry Rogers (R-Clarkesville) represents Georgia House District 10 which includes Habersham and White Counties. He was first elected to office in 2011. Rep. Rogers currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Georgia House Economic Development and Tourism Committee as well as of the State Planning and Community Affairs Committee. He is a member of the Appropriations, Defense and Veteran Affairs, Rules, Regulated Industries and Human Relations and Aging Committees of the Georgia House. Rogers also represents Governor Nathan Deal as a House Representative to the Legislative Fiscal Affairs Oversight Committee and House Speaker David Ralston on the Georgia World Congress Center Oversight committee. Rogers is an Administration Floor Leader for Governor Deal.