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Harper: Update from the Capitol

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Sen. Tyler Harper Contributed photo Sen. Tyler Harper

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The Georgia General Assembly began the first half of the 154th biennial term on Monday, January 9, 2017.

Even though it's our first week back in session, it's been a busy one.

The capitol has been filled with visitors attending the many events happening on the capitol grounds and with those watching the proceedings of the General Assembly.

This week, Senators received their committee assignments. I am proud to say that I will again Chair the Senate Public Safety Committee. Additionally, I will also be serving on the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Appropriations, and the Natural Resources and the Environment Committees, as well as serving as an ex-officio member of the Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee. I have also been assigned to two Appropriations Sub-Committees: The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Subcommittee and the Subcommittee on Higher Education.  I feel that my experience lends itself well to these committees and I will ensure that all legislation that passes through my committees receives the proper attention.

On Wednesday, Gov. Deal outlined his plans for the 2017 legislative session during his seventh annual State of the State Address. Education will again remain a top priority for the General Assembly. Gov. Deal called for an increase of $2 billion for K-12 public schools and a 2% raise salary increase to the pay scale of all state teacher positions.

Healthcare will also be a leading priority. Our state's rural areas especially are burdened by a lack of quality healthcare. We will be working hard this year to formulate legislation that provides for long-term solutions to assist our struggling rural hospitals.

Wednesday evening was the Okefenokee Occasion, an event I look forward to each year. It is an honor to celebrate the economic contributions of South Georgia. The event was held at the Freight Depot across the street from the state Capitol where lawmakers and visitors stopped by for great food and conversation.

Throughout the next few weeks, the General Assembly will be hard at work discussing the only pieces of the legislation we are constitutionally required to pass each year: the Amended FY 2017 Budget and the General FY 2018 budget. To fulfill this obligation, there will be several budget hearings beginning next week to ensure that Georgia's budgets are fair, responsible and, most importantly, balanced. After these hearings, we will continue with normal session days.

There are a number of topics and issues facing Georgia that I plan on paying close attention to in 2017. I will be sure to keep you all updated on any legislation I plan to file or support.

I am humbled you have placed your faith in me to represent the constituents of District 7 at the Georgia State Capitol. Please feel free to contact my office at any time to talk about pending legislation or address other concerns in our district – my door and phone lines are always open.  I encourage groups who are interested in visiting the Capitol to call my office at 404.463.5263 to set up a date and time. I look forward to personally welcoming you to the Capitol!

- Submitted by Sen. Tyler Harper (R- Ocilla)

Sen. Tyler Harper serves as Chairman of the Public Safety Committee. He represents the 7th Senate District which includes Atkinson, Bacon, Ben Hill, Berrien, Coffee, Irwin, Pierce and Ware counties and portions of Charlton and Wilcox counties.  He may be reached at 404.463.5263 or via email at tyler.harper @ senate.ga.gov.

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