This week, the House passed the 2015 supplementary budget, but still has to work on the 2016 budget. As I said before, revenues were up by $276 million, and we directed most of that increase to education, as well as Medicaid growth and mandatory compliance with Obamacare. The vote was bipartisan and unanimous.
I enjoyed spending time with Brianna Heffernan, who paged for the House last week. She’s a very clever girl from Covington who intends to enter the military. The Army would be lucky to have her.
I introduced a bill called “Kelsey’s Law” which would protect minors from having their personal information (like address and phone number) from being put on pornographic websites. Believe it or not, this happened to a 14-year-old minor in Oxford; her personal information was attached to a nude picture of someone else. So far, HB 103 has gotten wide, bipartisan approval and is moving swiftly through the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
The legalization of cannabis oil (for medical purposes only) is moving forward. Representative Allen Peake (the author) is working on several options to legally transport the oil into Georgia. While I would have preferred the original bill, I co-sponsored this one and have confidence we’ll create a legal way – this year – to help these suffering families.
I also was one of the first co-sponsors of the Religious Freedom act. It says that the government cannot infringe upon a person’s right to practice their religion. It does not restrict employers or individuals…it only restricts the government. This is what the First Amendment is all about…restricting the government from taking away individual rights. Every state that touches Georgia, and the rest of the South, and many New England states, and most of the Midwest, already have this common-sense law.
But the issue that’s taken up the most oxygen was the monumental Transportation Bill (HB170). Leadership wants an additional 1.5 billion dollars to fund transportation. Around $500M will come from projected revenue increases, and another $400M will be borrowed. The rest is very problematic, and will be a heavy blow to local counties.
The plan is complicated, and revolves around the current gas tax. For most people at the pump the plan is NOT a tax increase. But it will rob the counties’ LOST, SPLOST, and ELOST funds from the gas tax. In Morgan, that’s around 25%.
Please be aware…this is the beginning of a very long conversation and nothing is set in stone. But I am extremely worried about the effect this will have on local counties, and will closely monitor how the bill evolves.
I hope you will contact me with your constructive opinions regarding these issues. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-372-4114.
Dave Belton is the newly elected District 112 Georgia Representative. The Morgan and Newton County representative is serving in his first term in Georgia’s House. He is a resident of Morgan County.