State Rep. Ben Harbin addresses the crowd at the 2005 post-legislative breakfast at Savannah Rapids Pavilion in Evans. State Sen. Jim Whitehead (right) and state Rep. Barry Fleming also spoke at the annual session, organized by the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by First National Bank and Trust.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Columbia County government officials exchanged verbal pats on the back at a Tuesday post-legislative breakfast.
At the event, held at Savannah Rapids Pavilion by the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, state Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, praised the county's lawmakers' ability to work together.
"When you go to Atlanta, you see so many legislative delegations just using their time to straighten up messes in their own county," he said.
State Sen. Jim Whitehead, R-Evans, echoed Fleming's statement.
"We really don't know how good we have it until we get out of Columbia County," Whitehead said. "I'm proud of what we're hopefully doing for Columbia County."
Whitehead praised the passing of a stronger ethics bill, a statewide smoking ban and tort reform in this year's legislative session.
Fleming, a lawyer, said he was pleased to see some bills make it through both houses of the Legislature, including granting equal jury strikes to prosecutors, forcing convicted criminals to pay compensation to their victims and making it harder to purchase ingredients to make methamphetamines.
Both legislators and Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Martinez, praised the more business-friendly atmosphere at the Capitol.
"Georgia government is being run more like a business," said Harbin, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "We're living within our means."
The 2005 legislative session is the first in more than 100 years in which Republicans controlled both houses. The change bolsters Columbia County's presence on a state level, Harbin said.
"We're a great force in Columbia County," he said. "It's counties like ours across the state that is now leading the state of Georgia."
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