Legislative update from the Gold Dome: Fiscal responsibility a top priority for Sen. Steve Gooch

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ATLANTA – It seems like the 2012 legislative session just ended, yet we’re almost a quarter of the way into the 2013 legislative session. The Georgia State Senate got to work on the very first day by passing a resolution amending the Senate rules to include a lobbyist gift cap of $100. Just a few days later, the Senate passed Senate Bill 24 to extend an existing funding mechanism for Georgia’s Medicaid program by authorizing the Department of Community Health to administer the hospital provider fee. S.B. 24 is now working its way through the House of Representatives, with many other bills guaranteed to follow.

As a former Department of Transportation board member and previous secretary of the Senate Transportation Committee, I am looking forward to leading the discussion about Georgia’s transportation needs as chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. In addition to serving as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, I will also serve as vice chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee, as an ex-officio member of the Senate Rules Committee and as a member of the Senate Appropriations and Natural Resources committees.

Although our economy is slowly improving, many of us are still closely watching our budgets and being very careful to spend our hard-earned money wisely. I am co-sponsoring two pieces of fiscally responsible legislation geared toward reducing the burden of tough economic times on Georgians. The first is a resolution to create a constitutional amendment to phase out the Georgia state income tax, while the second is a bill preventing your tax dollars from funding employment benefits for illegal immigrants. Both are measures that will allow hard-working Georgians to take home more of their pay.

In an effort to be mindful of state resources, I will also be sponsoring a “design build” bill that will speed up the delivery of Georgia Department of Transportation projects and save taxpayer money. This bill will revise the types of projects eligible for design-build contracts and the procurement process that follows.

I want to take a minute to acknowledge the many letters, phone calls and emails I have received from Forsyth County residents concerned about legislation that would restrict our Second Amendment rights. I stand firmly behind ensuring the security of a free state by giving citizens the right to keep and bear arms, and I will work hard to prevent infringement on this constitutional right. It is an absolute tragedy that we live in a world where events like school shootings can and do happen, and my heart goes out to those families. However, our founding fathers had the foresight and experience to understand the importance of arming yourself for protection, and I find it unfair to attack law-abiding citizens because of the unlawful actions of a few.

As your senator, I promise to work together with members of both the House and Senate to keep Georgia on the road to prosperity. You have elected and trusted me to represent your voice at the Gold Dome, and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I acted in any interests other than yours.

I am committed to creating a transparent government that is accountable to Forsyth County and the rest of the 51st Senate District, and anyone else who calls Georgia home.