Capitol Recap: A Welcome Back to the Gold Dome 2023


Capitol Recap: A Welcome Back to the Gold Dome
 
By: Sen. Larry Walker (R – Perry)
 
On Monday, January 9, 2023, the Georgia General Assembly officially gaveled in the 2023 Legislative Session, beginning a new biennial legislative term. The Georgia Constitution requires that the Georgia General Assembly convene on the second Monday in January every year, but it does not specify an adjournment date. Instead, the Constitution sets a maximum number of 40 session days, which are not required to be consecutive. We generally stretch these 40 days over about three months, with recess days scheduled for committee meetings, weekends and holidays sprinkled throughout. Most of the activity during the first week of session is ceremonial and organizational in nature with only a handful of resolutions passed and a few bills introduced, and this year is no different.  On Monday, all members of the House and Senate, both new and returning, were sworn into office for the new biennial. The Senate has a number of new leaders, including Lt. Governor Burt Jones and President Pro Tempore Sen. John F. Kennedy (R – Macon) along with 10 freshmen/women Senators. With new leadership and so many new legislators, I anticipate that the 2023 Legislative Session will get off to a little slower paced start than in the past, but I know the activity will soon accelerate, and I look forward to this great opportunity to forge new relationships and build on the accomplishments of previous sessions.

On Thursday, the official Inauguration of Georgia’s 83rd Governor, Brian P. Kemp, and our state’s Constitutional Officers took place. I am proud to see Governor Kemp lead us for a second term so that we can continue to benefit from his experience, bold vision, and dedication to the hard-working citizens of this great state. I’m confident that we will work closely with his office to address the issues facing Georgia in a prudent manner that furthers our standing as the number one state in the nation to do business and the best place to live, work, and raise a family.

I am also pleased to report that I, along with my Senate colleagues, worked hard over the interim to lay the groundwork for a productive and fruitful session. Following the adjournment of the 2022 Legislative Session, our work did not stop. Much of the interim was devoted to conducting numerous Senate Study Committees, appointed by former Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, such as the Senate Study Committee on Georgia Music Heritage chaired by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga) and the Senate Study Committee to Review Education Funding Mechanisms chaired by Sen. Mike Dugan (R – Carrolton) to name a few. Much of my time over the interim was spent serving on a joint House and Senate study committee of major importance and one that has received a lot of interest, the Joint Study Committee on Electrification of Transportation.  This committee, co-chaired by Senate Majority Leader Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega) and House member Rick Jasperse (R – Jasper), was established pursuant to Senate Resolution 463 and was adopted by the General Assembly during the 2022 Legislative Session. The prevalence of electric vehicles (EV) on our roads is increasing, with projections for EV adoption to accelerate, and Georgia appears to be at the epicenter of EV and EV battery manufacturing. Therefore, it is imperative that we plan and prepare for a future where EV’s continue to replace combustible engine vehicles on our roads by implementing public policy that supports an adequate EV charging network and replaces diminishing motor fuel tax used to fund our transportation infrastructure. After several months of hard work, the Joint Study Committee held its final meeting to adopt its committee report, outlining the committee’s work and recommendations on November 30, 2022. I am grateful for the time commitment, expert testimony and robust discussion that went into each study committee and look forward to vetting potential legislation resulting from this work during the 2023 Legislative Session.

Next week, much of the General Assembly’s time will be devoted to Joint Hearings of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees. “Budget Week,” as we call it, is a time for the heads of Georgia’s state agencies and departments to present their budget requests to the General Assembly for review. These hearings are often long, but are critical in ensuring that your taxpayer dollars are spent as responsibly as possible.

The following week, we will reconvene in the Senate Chamber Monday through Thursday for our next four Legislative Days. We also plan to get back to work serving in our committees to assess the pieces of legislation brought before us. If you have any questions or concerns related to the budget or any potential legislation that my come up this year, please do not hesitate to contact my office. I am here to serve you.
 

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Sen. Larry Walker serves as Chairman of the Insurance and Labor Committee.  He represents the 20th Senate District, which includes Bleckley, Dodge, Dooly, Houston, Laurens, Pulaski, Treutlen and Wilcox counties.  He may be reached by phone at 404.656.0095 or by email at larry.walker@senate.ga.gov.