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Posted: March 20, 2017 10:47 a.m.

Belton: 'Sausage-making' getting frustrating at the Capitol

Very few bills passed this week as the House and Senate “horse-trade” some bills and hold others “hostage” that are important to the other Chamber. It’s all part of the “sausage-making” that is frustrating but not all together surprising as in a Constitutional Republic.

One of the few bills that did pass the Senate was our Fireman Insurance bill. Also, a slight expansion to the number of diagnosis that medical cannabis oil can be used passed a huge hurdle in the Senate as well as another Campus Carry bill. My school transparency bill will be on the floor of the Senate on Monday, as well as many other military-friendly bills.

In the House, we passed a Senate bill that hopes to stop the feud between micro-breweries and large distributors, as well as a new license plate that honors law-enforcement. There was also a measure that allows Georgia to recognize EMS personnel from other states when they operate near and across our borders.  

I was part of two huge events at the capitol this week. The first was Georgia National Guard Day where I honored the 14,000 Georgians who serve in our Guard. The GA Guard generates $1 billion into the economy, bringing in $500 million from the Federal government with only a $11 million commitment from Georgia. It’s also much different than when I joined the Navy during the Cold War: the term “weekend warrior” no longer applies as Georgia currently has 400 warriors deployed right now and many of our heroes have deployed six or more times.

The Guard is the “911” force the Governor relies on in times of natural disasters, as well as an anti-narcotics team that intercepts tens of millions of dollars of drugs every year. They also run several Youth Academy’s, where they train 1,000 young people every year to become better citizens. Finally, they conduct a whopping 8 military funerals every day, providing honors to these veterans who have given us so much. There are over 750,000 veterans in Georgia.

The other exciting event was Georgia Film Day. The Peach State is now making more movies than Hollywood, bringing in an amazing $7 billion every year…and growing. Closer to home, Covington - Hollywood of the South - celebrated the last “Vampire Diaries” episode with 5,000 people cramming into the Square.

Hosting more than 80 movies and countless television shows, Newton County is receiving millions of dollars of economic impact every year because of this clean and exciting industry. This will only intensify when Three Rings Studios opens up – a $110 million investment that will host almost a million square feet of movie production space. Madison is also doing a lot of movie-making – some 30 movies have been done there with one in production right now.

Finally, I was delighted to (again) visit Emory at Oxford University with my good friend, Senator Tonya Anderson. The tiny college is the best kept secret this side of Atlanta, hosting a naturally diverse group of incredibly smart students from 25 counties and almost every state. They only take the very brightest (their average SAT is 1330 vs. 1175 for the US), accepting only 500 students from a yearly pool of over 14,000 applicants. In fact, they have more applicants than any liberal arts college in the US. Over 99 percent of freshmen continue on at the university to their sophomore year (the average freshman dropout rate in the US is 55 percent) and nearly a quarter of all medical students at Emory in Atlanta come from Oxford. The university has invested $125M in Newton County over the past few years and has recently been recognized as among the top 25 liberal arts universities in America.

The campus is gorgeous and has many great (and available) meeting places, something the Arts Association in Newton County has been beautifully operating for years. Emory at Oxford is a true gem.

I hope you will continue to pray for me as I serve you under the Golden Dome. You can contact me at 706-372-4114 or davebelton112@gmail.com.

 

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