When Georgia’s General Assembly session begins Jan. 14, Columbia County’s legislative delegation will see some new faces and a stack of prefiled bills already will be awaiting action.
As of Jan. 1, all legislative districts redrawn for the 2012 elections will take effect. Those changes add state Sen. Bill Jackson, R-Appling, to Richmond County’s legislative delegation, and add state Sen. Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, to Columbia County’s delegation. State Rep. Tom McCall, R-Elberton, also joins Columbia County’s delegation.
In addition, state Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, replaces Appling Republican Lee Anderson. Anderson didn’t seek re-election to the state House, instead running unsuccessfully for the 12th District congressional seat.
Fleming previously held Anderson’s seat until leaving the state House in 2008 – also making an unsuccessful run for Congress.
Members of the county’s delegation are scheduled to meet Monday, Jan. 7, with county officials starting at 8 a.m. at the Evans Government Center auditorium, with sessions throughout the day for county commissioners, school board members, constitutional officers and city officials.
Once lawmakers set up shop Jan. 14, at least 51 bills already will be awaiting action.
Among the bills already filed include House Bill 4 from Roswell Republican Harry Geisinger to allow gambling on horse racing, a pair of bills in the House and Senate by two Atlanta Democrats to change the school attendance age to 5 to 17 – currently, children must attend from ages 6 to 16 – and a resolution from two freshman Republicans calling for state lawmakers to be limited to four, two-year terms.
State Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, has prefiled a series of bills that, if enacted, would change every non-legislative local election to non-partisan, including sheriff, county commissioner and all tax officials.
The seven bills, however, omitted the office of coroner.
“Oops! I guess we thought it was a dead issue,” Carter joked via email when asked about the omission. “It will be added.”
Carter drafted his legislation, which would allow local counties to switch to non-partisan races, because getting qualified candidates to run for office can be a struggle.
"This is a typical problem in larger counties where in order to get elected some feel they need to run as a Democrat or Republican but can't stomach doing either," Carter said.
Other prefiled legislation includes:
• Four House bills removing restrictions on places firearms could be carried, including churches and secondary education campuses.
• A Senate bill that, starting in 2016, would phase out Georgia’s income tax.
• A House bill that would change the eligibility date for school age to Dec. 1 instead of Sept. 1.
• A House bill to require installation of carbon monoxide detectors in all schools.
• A Senate bill that would make it a felony to drive under the influence with a child in the vehicle.
No local lawmakers as yet have prefiled any legislation.
To see all prefiled bills and resolutions, go to http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/Search.aspx, and click on “2013-2014 Regular Session.”