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Posted: April 2, 2013 9:33 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Johnson to host Sat. meeting

State and federal officials will be in town Saturday to talk with the public and answer questions, including Congressman Hank Johnson.

State Rep. Pam Dickerson, D-Conyers, will start off the day with a town hall meeting from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Historic Courthouse on the square.

Dickerson said Sen. Ronald Ramsey, D-Lithonia, may also attend the event. Dickerson will give a wrap up of the legislative session that just finished, including the budget and controversial gun and education bills.

Dickerson said she opposed efforts to legalize the carrying of guns on college campuses. Senate Bill 101 never came up for a vote, but it’s expected to be revisited in 2014.

The bill would have also allowed guns in churches, local school boards to arm administrators and military veterans younger than 21 to carry weapons; however, the provision to allow guns on campuses seemed to be the main sticking point among legislators.

Dickerson also opposed to the so-called “parent trigger” bill, actually House Bill 123, the Parent and Teacher Empowerment Act, which would have allowed parents or teachers to petition their local school board to turn any school into a charter school.

The state Board of Education was to act as a referee in the process. The bill passed in the house but stalled in the senate.

One bill Dickerson did pass was House Bill 187, which enabled Porterdale to be declared a Drug Free Commercial Zone. The designation raises fines and possible jail time for people who are found guilty of drug-related crimes within the designated zones.

Residents will also have the opportunity to ask questions of Dickerson, who represents house district 113, which contains the middle, western chunk of Newton County, as well as small portion of Rockdale County.

U.S. Rep. Johnson to visit
Following Dickerson’s town hall, residents can stick around to hear from their Congressman Hank Johnson, who represents the fourth district of Georgia, which contains the western half of Newton County.

Johnson is holding a meet and greet with local residents from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“It’s a chance for Newton County elected, religious, community leaders and others to meet Rep. Johnson and for the congressman to introduce himself and hear from Newton folks about their thoughts and/or concerns,” said spokesman Andy Phelan in an email. “We’re also using it as an opportunity to let Newton residents know what kind of services we provide, i.e., help with federal agencies: including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, foreclosure prevention, EEOC, immigration, grants, FEMA, military academies, VA and many other issues.”

Phelan said the congressman would likely have some talking points, including the budget and immigration reform, but said the agenda is still being formed.

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