______________________________________________ - Week 3: Jan 22, 2018
Georgia State Representative - Democrat  -  State Representative District 53
Week 3 of the Legislative Session started 
Monday, January 22, 2018
~for Legislative Days 7 through 10~

With 30 legislative days remaining the pace has picked up as House committees met more frequently to consider proposed legislation.
Rural Development Council:
With Georgia’s growing economy over the past several years, not all parts of our state have experienced the same levels of prosperity.  The House is heavily focused on improving economic opportunities for our state’s rural communities.
Last session, we adopted House Resolution 389, which established the House Rural Development Council (RDC). Members of the RDC traveled to many different rural communities across the state and met with local leaders, studied issues specific to Georgia’s rural areas and explored ways to encourage economic growth. The RDC closely examined the components of economic development and related policy areas, such as education, infrastructure, access to health care and economic growth incentives. Then, in December, the RDC released the first of two reports outlining several legislative recommendations that would boost rural Georgia’s economic opportunities.
We saw the first rural development-related bill this week: House Bill 735 - would create a tax credit for short line railroad track maintenance expenditures to incentivize investment in rail infrastructure in rural Georgia. This Bill is likely the first of many pieces of legislation that we will consider this session to help Georgia’s rural communities grow.  Since this bill was just introduced this week, it will now make its way through the legislative process (passing in the House before the Bill takes the same course in the Senate).
Transit Commission:
Georgia’s continued economic success largely depends on a connected and efficient transportation network, which is why transit is also a top priority in the House this session. During the 2017 session, we adopted House Resolution 848, which established the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding. This commission is charged with studying our state’s transportation needs and exploring ways our state can sufficiently plan and provide for those needs.  Like the RDC, the transit commission held hearings across the state during the summer and fall of 2017, and this session, we can expect to see legislation come up aimed at meeting Georgia’s wide-ranging transit needs as a result of the commission’s report. Both the transit commission and the RDC have worked diligently since the end of the 2017 session to study pressing issues facing to our state, and it is exciting to see initial proposals come to fruition in the form of legislation.
The House of Representatives worked with our counterparts in the Senate and adopted another adjournment resolution this week, which determined our Session Days for the remainder of the 2018 legislative session.  Legislative Day 40 (“Sine Die”) is the final day of the legislative session and will be Thursday, March 29.
The House Rules Committee:
Held its first meeting of the session on Thursday, January 25.
After Bills have been introduced AND passed out of their respective committees, they must  pass out of the Rules Committee.  The Rules Committees determines which Bills should be debated and voted on the House floor.
The General Assembly is constitutionally required to pass a balanced state budget every year.  After we review Governor Deal’s budget proposals in our various Appropriations subcommittees, my House colleagues and I will draft a bill for the Amended   The AFY 2018 budget, (nicknamed the “small budget”),  is an adjusted budget for the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30. The small budget uses a more precise estimate of state revenue to account for any differences between anticipated and actual state revenue. The FY 2019 budget (nicknamed the “big budget”), is the state budget for fiscal year 2019 beginning on July 1.
This budget is based on projected state revenue for the upcoming fiscal year. Once passed by the respective Appropriations subcommittees, those portions of each budget will then go before the full House Appropriations Committee, which will then review and pass balanced budgets for AFY 2018 and FY 2019.  We largely focused on reviewing Governor Deal’s state budget recommendations last week during joint appropriations committee hearings with the Senate - - this week the House Appropriations subcommittees held several hearings at the Capitol to further review the Governor’s budget proposals.
After the House Appropriations Committee passes complete budgets for AFY 2018 and FY 2019, the measures will then go to the Rules Committee, where they will be placed on the House calendar. Each budget then goes to the House floor, where every member of the House will have the opportunity to voice their opinions on each budget and ask questions before voting.
Once the AFY 2018 and FY 2019 budgets pass out of the House, they will go to the Senate and repeat this same committee process before being voted on by all of the members of the Senate. By this point, each budget will likely differ from its original versions as passed by the House. When this happens, the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor will both appoint a conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the state budgets.
Once the conference committee reaches an agreement, their versions of the budgets will go back to the House and Senate for a final vote. Both legislative chambers must vote on the conference committee’s versions of the budgets to guarantee that all contents of the bills are fully agreed upon by both chambers. Finally, if approved by both the House and Senate, the budgets are sent to the Governor’s desk where Governor Deal can either sign or veto the legislation. Once signed by Governor Deal, these budgets become law. All legislation must go through this process before becoming state law.
Other House Activities:
The House celebrated National Guard Day at the Capitol on Thursday by recognizing some our state’s most honorable citizens. Several men and women of the Georgia National Guard visited the House Chamber and were presented with House Resolution 902. The Georgia Department of Defense, which provides military-ready forces to the president and disaster response forces to the Governor, employs over 10,891 Army National Guard Soldiers, 2,746 Air National Guard Airmen, 583 State Defense Force members and over 600 state employees. Since 9/11, over 18,000 Georgia National Guard members have been deployed overseas, and more than 200 are currently being deployed. These courageous men and women have selflessly served our state’s citizens in so many ways, and it was an honor to recognize their great contributions and sacrifices for all Americans, and especially all Georgians, and welcome them to the House Chamber.
My House colleagues and our Senate counterparts have an aggressive and busy schedule and will be working diligently to pass meaningful bills for Governor Deal to consider signing into law. 
The House will be back in session
Monday, January 29th
~ 10:00am ~
Visit the House website, www.house.ga.gov, for several tools that might be useful to you throughout the legislative session:
•  live stream of House proceedings
•  live and archived committee meeting videos
•  detailed information on all legislation we are considering in the General Assembly.
I encourage you to visit me at my Capitol office, if you ever find yourself in Atlanta during session.  My office is located across from the State Capitol, in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Suite 411.  Feel free to call or email me with any concerns regarding current or upcoming legislation:  Sheila.Jones@house.ga.gov  -  404.656.0127.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.


With Student Pages from B.E.S.T. Academy: Marcus Copeland & Mouhamed Bah (Tue Jan 23rd)




Disability Day at the Capitol (Tue Jan 23rd)

Dr. Nikil Patel, Optometrist from my District (Wed Jan 24th)

Standing with my Constituent 
Sickle Cell Day at the Capitol
(he lost his wife to this terrible disease)
(Wed Jan 24th)