Rick Jasperse, Bill Gibson, Reuben Burnley (STAR Student Pickens High School), Pat Gallagher (STAR Teacher Pickens High School), and Reeder Burch
Rick Jasperse, Gloria Wentworth (STAR Teacher Mountain Education Center), Melody Ewing, (STAR Student Mountain Education Center), Reeder Burch, and Bill Gibson
2/27/2012 ~ by Rick Jasperse - The pace has picked up at the Capitol. Lots of meetings and votes took place in both the House and Senate in preparation for Cross-over Day, Day 30 of 40. Cross-over Day is the day when a bill has to pass the House and go to the Senate and visa versa. Proposed legislation dies that is not voted on by Cross-over Day. That’s why it’s busy. Cross-over Day is next week.
Monday night Marcia and I enjoyed the Fellowship of Christian Athletes event here in Jasper. The Christian leaders and educators are doing great work in our schools and need all of our support.
On Monday we also heard that Caterpillar, Inc. will be building a new plant in the Athens area. When I arrived at the Capitol at 6:45 Tuesday morning, they were unloading small excavators and other equipment for the official announcement by Gov. Deal. It was great news to hear that CAT was moving this manufacturing plant from Japan to our state.
It was encouraging to see this positive news after all the work my colleagues and I have put into restoring Georgia’s economy and promoting job creation. Last year, we started the process of implementing meaningful tax reform that would encourage small business growth and investment. While we continue to work on tax reform, this year we are also working to eliminate unnecessary government regulations through the Red Tape Watch initiative. This initiative allows us to hear directly from small business owners from across the state, which helps us identify burdensome and unnecessary government regulations that prevent Georgia small businesses from thriving. Through these combined efforts, I am confident that many more businesses will follow Caterpillar in moving production to Georgia.
In attracting businesses to Georgia, we must also ensure our children are prepared to become the next generation of exceptional workers. That is why innovative schools, like charter schools that specialize in science and math, are so important to our state’s education system. Unfortunately, the future of some state-sponsored charter schools was threatened last summer when the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled that local school systems have exclusive power over public education. This week we made great steps towards protecting existing state-sponsored charter schools and allowing for greater school choice, by passing House Resolution 1162.
HR 1162 is a constitutional amendment that will allow the state to approve charter schools when requested by parents. However, HR 1162 does not allow the state to use local school board funds for state created charter schools.
Not only does HR 1162 ensure that existing state sponsored charter schools can keep their doors open, but it also clarifies our constitution so that we maintain a system of checks and balances in state policies regarding education. While local school boards play a crucial role in providing public education, the state has a responsibility to protect its “educated workforce brand” so that businesses know that starting operations in Georgia will give them a pool of employees that are competent, qualified, and prepared to start work on day one. Because HR 1162 is a constitutional amendment, it must now receive approval from two-thirds of the Senate and the signature of Governor Deal, before being placed on the ballot for approval from voters. If that happens, you and all other Georgia voters will have the final say on whether HR 1162 should be added to our state constitution.
Thursday night I was back in Jasper to attend the Optimist Club’s Star Students’ Banquet. It was so rewarding to have the opportunity to speak to these young people who have excelled in the classroom. A video of the banquet is online at knowpickens.com .
I am proud to let you know that the Georgia House approved House Bill 879 on Friday morning, legislation that I told you about when it was first introduced. HB 879 improves safety for diabetic students by requiring public schools to have personnel who are trained to care for diabetic students. I had many calls on this from families in our district. Now that we have passed this bill, it must receive approval from the Senate and Gov. Deal before becoming law.
In addition to passing legislation this week, we also took time to recognize the brave Georgians in uniform who protect our great state and nation. Wednesday, February 22, was Georgia National Guard Day. On this day, we honored the sacrifice of our 45 fallen heroes who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and welcomed their families to the State Capitol. We also recognized our current National Guard troops who serve and protect us. It was an honor to recognize these incredible solders and airmen at the State Capitol. We are forever grateful for the sacrifices that they have made for our freedom.
As we move forward into our eighth legislative week, I encourage you to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have regarding our state, as well as our local community. I always welcome your comments, because they help me understand how to better serve as your State Representative. You can call my Capitol office at (404) 656-0188 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Representative.