Wednesday, December 16, 2009

lunsford view on the caucus

Dear Colleague:


Since being elected to the House in 2000, I have had two goals.  The first was to establish and maintain a majority to better represent my constituents and the other people of Georgia.  The second was to create unity within our caucus to be able to ratify legislatively the Conservative values that motivated me to run in the first place.  To a large extent, we have accomplished this goal as a caucus by providing tax cuts, passing tort reform, reducing the size of state government, enhancing public safety and crafting many other important measures that have improved the lives of all Georgians.

Now, however, our Caucus faces an unprecedented challenge.  When confronted by this situation, I determined that the best way for us to move forward as a caucus was to reaffirm our leadership whoever that might be, while at the same time maintaining the solidarity necessary to continue to accomplish our goals. 


After much thought, prayer and discussion with my colleagues, I decided that offering a petition in last week’s meeting was not only the best course of action, but also the only way to ensure that we enter the 2010 session strong, unified and energized.  Many advised me against  taking this course, arguing that it would hurt my chances at becoming Majority Whip.  I told them, as I explain to you now, that my desire to serve as Whip pales in comparison to maintaining our majority. 


For this reason, I willingly assumed the risk of a lost race and of whatever punishment leadership would mete out against me for my actions.  To leave no doubt about my dedication to and belief in this higher purpose, I resigned all of my leadership positions.  I wanted us to walk out of that meeting united behind our leadership and to begin preparing for the difficult session that awaits us in January. 


This was not, as the media falsely reported,  an effort at grandstanding.  Quite the contrary, it was instead an attempt to put this unpleasantness behind us, to close ranks behind our leadership, and to face head-on the issues that are important to Georgia. Contrary to media expectations, it was not then nor is it now my intention to turn in the petition on the morning of the elections for Speaker and Speaker Pro Tem.  The elections that we hold tomorrow take precedence over everything, and further distraction is counterproductive.  The petition will be available thru myself or Rep Mike Jacobs, until the close of the caucus meeting so that all members, especially those who were absent from the previous meeting, will have an opportunity to sign if they wish.

As predicted by my friends, the petition has taken on a life of its own.  I have been bombarded by media calls about it, and I apologize to those of you who have taken calls from your local media asking if you have signed.  I did not feel a need or have a desire to share my plans with the media, as this was for the members of this Caucus and not for press.


Although I remain steadfastly committed to both the petition and the principle for which it stands, I have kept private the names of the signers to protect them unnecessary exposure to retribution in the event that leadership voluntarily placed their names up for reaffirmation.


As I have said from the start, I want to serve as your Whip because I believe the office should be about our agenda (including a pledge not to vote for a tax increase of any kind), our message, our communication strategy, and our elections.  All of these are vital to the survival of our majority and to the betterment of Georgia.  


I promise to each of you that I will continue to help develop the agenda necessary for us to win, both during session and at the polls next November.  I will keep working vigorously to make certain that we succeed in passing our agenda and that the people of Georgia know what we have done on their behalf.  Both before and after session, I will, as I have for nine-plus years as a member of this Caucus, lead the charge to raise money and to implement election strategies to make sure that we continue in the majority.  I ask for your support and vow that I will do all that I can to help both our Caucus and our state.




Rep John Lunsford

District 110

Po Box 1598

McDonough, Georgia 30253



Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lunsford Announces Candidacy for Majority Whip

Experienced Conservative Leader Joins Leadership Race


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                            December 12, 2009

Contact: John Lunsford                                                                                                                 Phone: 404-656-7573


McDonough, GA – Rep. John Lunsford, a  5 term  year legislative veteran, has announced his intention to seek the office of Majority Whip.

“It is with great humility that I enter the race for Majority Whip,” Lunsford said.  “While there are many talented people in our caucus who could do this job, I feel that my business background and legislative experience make me uniquely qualified.”

Lunsford serves the constituents of 110th District. With 25 years in business management and marketing, Lunsford uses his professional skills and knowledge to provide expertise to several House committees: Appropriations, Health & Human Services, Rules and Science & Technology. Lunsford also serves as the Senior Hawk and as Vice Chairman of the Rules Committee.

Representative Lunsford has been an active participant in helping his fellow party members get reelected. He has been involved in development of agenda strategies and financial support for over 9 years, contributing to numerous campaigns during past electoral seasons.

“I have worked to help build our majority, and I know what it takes to maintain it,” Lunsford continued.  “We must commit ourselves to core conservative principles – lower taxes, a smaller, more efficient government, and removal of the regulatory burdens that hinder business and job growth, and personal responsibility.  This is my vision to improve Georgia.”

In addition to the legislative responsibilities Lunsford serves on the board of Directors of the Henry County Farm Bureau, Quality Growth Council, Connecting Henry Program , and the Clayton County Law Enforcement training Academy  as well as others.  Lunsford was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and has lived in Georgia for over 30 years.  John and his wife Tina have been blessed with 7 wonderful children: Brittany, Allison, Benjamin, Joseph, Sophia, Christopher and Leah. They reside in McDonough, Georgia and the family attends Philadelphia Baptist  Church.

“This is a vital time for House Republicans, with elections and redistricting on the horizon,” Lunsford concluded.  “I offer my services to my colleagues at this time because I want to help lead Georgia toward a conservative government, which I feel will enrich our state for generations to come.”



Monday, April 13, 2009

session wrapup lunsford

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

Session wrap up

April 13, 2009


The 2009 Legislative Session of the Georgia General Assembly officially adjourned Sine Die Friday, April 3rd.  We accomplished many important items on the agenda and passed key pieces of legislation during the 2009 session.  Over the course of 40 legislative days, we worked together and devised a budget that basically includes only the essential and necessary programs for the state.  Also during the 2009 session, with the cooperation and input from both chambers, we passed legislation that meets the needs of the people we represent. 

The main issue on our legislative agenda, like every session, is creating a balanced budget.  This year was difficult given the current economic situation we are faced with, not only as individuals but also as a state.  Families across Georgia are cutting back and we had to do the same with the budget.  In the late hours on Friday night, we passed HB 119 which includes an $18.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2010. It is still awaiting the signature from Governor Perdue.  Faced with statewide revenue shortages, we had to make some very difficult decisions about what to fund.  The General Assembly here in Georgia did not follow the lead of others states, states around the country which raised taxes to make up for the shortfall.  We are proud to tell you that we did not raise taxes on the citizens in Georgia.  Families are struggling to make ends meet and to place another burden on them would simply be unfair.  During hard economic times, we all suffer: as individuals, as families, and as a state.  We have all had to cut back and make sacrifices.  One thing can be said; when things are tough we share the responsibilities, come up with solutions to our problems, and pull together as a state. 

The Transforming Transportation Investment Act, SB 200, was passed by both chambers.  It will provide the Governor and the legislature with more influence on transportation projects in Georgia.  Appointed by the Governor and upon approval of the Transportation Committee, this bill will create a new DOT Director of Planning.  Also, the Governor and members of the General Assembly will have greater input on the transportation plans within the state.    

In an effort to curb metal theft and to strengthen the law in Georgia, both chambers passed SB 82.  As legislators, we have heard of many instances within our communities of various pieces of metal parts being stolen, from parts of an air conditioner to unused car parts.  This legislation will create additional requirements for those taking items to a metal recycler with the intention of reducing metal theft in the State. 

The Department of Human Resources (DHR) will be faced with an immense restructuring with the passage of HB 228, still awaiting the Governor’s signature.  Under this piece of legislation DHR will be reorganized and separated into three new departments:  the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, the Department of Community Health, and the Department of Human Services. DHR is extremely large as one entity and our goal was to make it into smaller and workable departments.

One of our goals during this session was to help our businesses in Georgia by providing some form of economic relief. We passed HB 438 which would increase the tax credit for major economic development projects in the state.  To encourage business development in less-developed areas of the state, we passed HB 439 which revises the income tax credit to businesses.  The JOBS (Jobs, Opportunity, and Business Success) Act of 2009, HB 481 and HB 482, passed both chambers during this legislative session.  Our intentions with these pieces of legislation are to promote business in Georgia and to encourage employment.  The JOBS Act of 2009 includes many incentives for businesses, such as: phasing out the corporate income tax, reducing the capital gains tax, eliminating the state inventory tax, temporarily suspending filing fees for new businesses, and allowing a $2,400 tax credit for the hiring of the unemployed.  Hopefully these bills will help to stimulate our economy here in Georgia by providing some economic relief to our businesses and also have a positive impact on employment.

            Education is always a priority.  In an effort to provide parents with school choice for their children we passed HB 251.  This bill relates to elementary and secondary education and will allow the parent or guardian to transfer their children under certain conditions to another school within the district as long as the school has room to accommodate a transfer student.  Parents should have a choice of where their children attend school.  We also passed the Move on When Ready Act, HB 149, which will allow high school junior and seniors to receive high school credit for work completed in post-secondary institutions.  Due to the shortage of science and math teachers in Georgia, we passed HB 280 which provides teachers in those areas with the same compensation that fifth-year teachers receive.  As legislators we realize the importance and significance of education and will continue to provide the support for our schools, teachers, and children within our districts and all across the state.  Every legislator is accountable to the people he or she represents and I welcome your comments and input. Your opinions and concerns are important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you at the state capitol and in our district. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 401, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at




Sunday, April 5, 2009

lunsford weekly

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

April 4, 2009


Wrapping up the final legislative day 40 on Friday, we had a full week with many items on the agenda to accomplish.  Due to the Georgia Constitution, the legislative session must end on Day 40.  In addition, we had many Conference Committee reports that had to be agreed to or amended.  This is the process where legislative conferees are appointed and the House and Senate versions of the legislation are worked out.


Working into the late hours of the day on Friday, the main issue of concern was the 2010 budget.  As of Friday afternoon, the House and Senate were still trying to insure that the items in this austere budget were truly needed.  As legislators, we are constitutionally required to pass the budget and so there were some tense negotiations on Friday.


In an effort toward promoting Georgia to become the number one destination for entrepreneurs, we passed HR 165 on Monday by a vote of 152 to 1.  This Resolution would request that the colleges and universities under the University System of Georgia expand their education efforts toward the promotion and support of science, innovation, technology, and energy.  The end result would be the advancement and promotion of entrepreneurs in Georgia.  We want to encourage entrepreneurship within our districts and across the state.  Increasing the number of new businesses in Georgia will not only help our economy, but it will also encourage growth and innovation.  Small businesses will be the economic growth engine that helps us grow out of the economic downturn we are in.


Relating to the Made in Georgia Program, SB 117 passed the House on Wednesday and was nearly unanimous by a vote of 165 to 1.  This piece of legislation requires the Department of Economic Development to create and maintain a website for the citizens in Georgia to be able to be informed of Georgia manufactures and their products across the state.  If at least half of the products are manufactured within Georgia, the companies will be included on the website.  This website will be both educational for the people in Georgia and will also provide a convenient place to find this information.  


On Wednesday, we passed SB 128 by a vote of 167 to 3.  This would allow the owner of motor vehicles to have the option to apply for and obtain a permanent license plate for their boat, utility, and/or noncommercial livestock trailers when registering their motor vehicle.  Currently the law in Georgia does not give the owner the option of a permanent registration for these types of motor vehicles.  


Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases which affects a large portion of our population.  SB 163 passed the House on Wednesday by 171 to 1 and this bill would authorize the Commissioner of Human Resources to appoint a diabetes coordinator who will be responsible for the storing diabetes treatment and prevention data in an effort to properly coordinate the prevention and treatment.  This will be beneficial in that it will maximize the diabetes program and will in turn lead to the reduction of health consequences and complications from diabetes.


Many additional items passed and failed on Friday night as both chambers worked until midnight, next week I will wrap-up what actually passed both chambers.  Your opinions and concerns are important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you at the state capitol and in our district. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 401, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at


Saturday, March 28, 2009

lunsford weekly

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

March 28th, 2009


As the 37th legislative day comes to an ended on Thursday, we are now officially one week away from the end of the 40 day session.  With just a few legislative days remaining, the final session day (no more than forty days) is set for next Friday, April 3.  In addition to voting on numerous pieces of legislation on the House floor, this week has also been full of committee meetings as we are trying to get bills out of committee and onto the floor for a vote. 


The House passed out the FY 2010 Budget (HB 119) last week.  We are still waiting to finish up the official finalized budget for next year.  The concurrence of both chambers is needed and the Senate is still working on their version of the budget.  Once the House receives the Senate version, leaders from both chambers will meet to come up with a final reconciled version of the budget.  As stated in previous weeks, the budget is one of the most important tasks we have as legislators.  Due to the economy, the budget for this year and next has been incredibly difficult and depending upon the revenue figures for March, the budget may once again have to be reviewed and adjusted.


In response to Federal regulations by the Federal Accounting Standards Board, we passed a bill which would split the Georgia Retiree Health Benefit fund into two funds, the Georgia School Personnel Postemployment and Georgia State Employee’s Postemployment Health Benefit Funds.  The House passed SB 122 on Monday by 161 to l.  The newly-created funds will be created on August 31, 2009 and will provide post-employment health insurance benefits for their beneficiaries.  Under this bill, the state employee and school employee retirement funds will be protected by ensuring that the amount the employer places into the fund goes into the correct fund, by separating the school funds from the state funds. 


As legislators, we realize that the housing industry plays such a key role in our economy and it is currently in a slump.  In an effort to encourage home buying in the state of Georgia, the House introduced and passed HB 261, and on Thursday, the bill passed the Senate. This bill will allow a one-time tax credit to buyers of single-family homes.  HB 261 was slightly changed by the Senate, as they added two Amendments to the bill to include the addition of condominiums and other documentation.  The amount of the tax break would be the lesser of 1.2 percent of the purchase price or $3,600.  The housing industry is an essential part of our economy and we need to take the steps to promote it.  By providing a tax credit to homebuyers, especially during economic times like we are in now, it creates an incentive which could hopefully increase real estate sales in Georgia. 


The “Super Speeder Bill,” HB 160, has passed both chambers and if the Senate changes are approved by the House, the bill will be sent to the Governor.  This bill would increase the fees on those that are excessively speeding.  The fine will be $200 for those that are driving over 75 mph on a two-lane road and 85 on a four-lane.  The revenue, approximately $23 million, will be used to help fund trauma care.  Although this bill helps, we still need a permanent and reliable solution to fully fund trauma care.  Funding Statewide Trauma Care in Georgia is essential and we need to come up with a solution.  This bill is a start in the right direction; however, it will only provide approximately one fourth of the funding needed to fund trauma care. 


On Wednesday, the House unanimously passed SB 13.  This bill will ensure that those accused of crimes may be sentenced to life without parole, even if the prosecutors choose not to seek the death penalty.  This legislation will not apply to offenses committed on or before June 30, 2009.


In an effort to promote Georgia based companies and products, the House passed SB 44 by a vote of 157-5 on Wednesday.  We are trying to come up with solutions to stimulate our economy, especially here in Georgia.  With the passage of this bill it would require purchasing decisions by the state, departments, agencies, commissions, local governments, and public schools to give preference to certain Georgia produced goods in the bidding contracts and/or with their purchasing decisions.  This bill would apply to large scale contracts and purchases to an amount that exceeds $100,000.  Our intentions with this piece of legislation are to promote the purchase of Georgia products, supplies, and food. Your opinions and concerns are important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you at the state capitol and in our district. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 401, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at




Sunday, March 15, 2009

lunsford weekly

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

March 14, 2009


This legislative week ended with Cross-Over Day on Thursday, legislative day number 30, which is one of the longest days of session.  It is the responsibility of the legislature to enact new laws and legislative day 30 plays a key role in the law making process.  This day is significant in that it is the last day that legislation must pass one chamber in order to be heard by the other.  The House voted on more than 70 measures on day 30 which was Thursday into the night. The Georgia General Assembly meets for up to 40 session days, so only ten legislative days remain.


Every year on our birthdays, the one thing we dread is the so called birthday tax on our vehicles.  As legislators, we realize that all of us do not look forward to having to pay the ad valorem tax on our vehicles yearly.  For the second year in a row, we are trying to tackle the issue of the ad valorem tax paid on vehicles.  HB 480 passed out of the House on Cross-Over Day by a vote of 133 to 39.  This Bill would replace the sales tax and annual ad valorem tax on our motor vehicles with a one-time title fee.  Another benefit of this bill is that the excess funds could be dedicated to help partially fund trauma care in the state of Georgia; but, will still be subjected to the appropriations process.  If passed by the Senate, this would take affect on or after January 1, 2010. The total of the one time state and local title fees on the vehicle would be the lesser amount of $2,000 or 7% of the value of the vehicle.  This bill is essential as it means that instead of paying the yearly ad valorem tax, a one time state and local title fee would be paid when the vehicle is titled.


Several tax bills were on the minds of the General Assembly this week.  Two GOP proposals, HB 481 and HB 482 passed out of the House on Thursday.  The Jobs, Opportunity, and Business Success Act of 2009 (HB 481), passed by a vote of 164 to 4.  Both of these bills make changes to the tax code while both promoting and encouraging businesses and employment in Georgia.  HB 481 would provide a $2,400 credit to businesses that keep people employed for at least two years, gives a $500 credit per employee to employers for hiring people that are unemployed and receive unemployment benefits, and also gives refunds for sales tax deposits.  HB 482 passed unanimously.  This bill would provide an exemption on all business inventories from the state’s 0.25 mill ad valorem tax.  This is subject to the approval of voters on the 2010 ballot.  Also included in this bill is a business sales tax day which would waive the $100 state filing fee for businesses in Georgia.  In Georgia, job create and increasing business is essential during economic times like we are in and these tax break proposals help to accomplish both of those needs.  Unfortunately one measure that would have helped, failed that was HR 22 a constitutional amendment protected the right to secret ballots for union elections. The democrat party took an official position against this bill. The outcome could be disastrous for business across this nation.


One bill that many of us are watching is SB 169. The Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act passed out of the Senate on Cross-Over Day after much debate. 

This bill declares an embryo to be a living person and the current version which passed out of the Senate by a vote of 34 to 22 would limit at least one form of embryonic stem cell research.  Although initially intended to restrict multiple births through invitro fertilization, the bill was given an in-dept look once debate opened up on the Senate floor.  The current version of the bill would restrict researchers from mixing human and animal genes.  Also, it mandates that embryos be created for the purpose of making babies.  This bill will now come to the House for consideration. 


The Insurance Delivery Enactment Act of 2009, HB 321, passed the House with bipartisan support on Thursday with 171 members voting for the bill.  This bill amends the Georgia Code by changing the definitions of group accident, sickness insurance, and true association.  Also, the bill reduces the number of people required for an association from 25 to 10 people.  This bill now requires that spouses be included under a policy issued to a legal entity providing a multiple employer welfare arrangement.  Other changes relate to the amount of insurance under the policy and makes changes in the required number of years in existence from 5 to 3 years.  We want to help our small businesses in Georgia to be able to continue to grow and offer group health insurance to their employees at reduced costs. Your opinions and concerns are important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you at the state capitol and in our district. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 401, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at




Tuesday, March 10, 2009

lunsford weekly update

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

March 8, 2009


As the 27th day of the legislative session ends, the legislature is in full swing. As we become closer to legislative Day 30, Cross-over day, bills are moving fast as we are trying to get bills out of committee and onto the House floor for a vote so it can be sent to the Senate for consideration.

This week, one of the large accomplishments was an effort to fund transportation.  Accompanying House Bill 277 is House Resolution 206 and both passed out of the House this week.  HB 277, the Georgia 2020 Transportation Act, passed out of the House on March 3rd by a vote of 149-18 and HR 206, to establish a Transportation Trust Fund, passed by 151 to 15.  This bill and resolution would create a transportation trust fund, establish an oversight committee, and allow an authority to administer and disperse the fund. Voters will have the opportunity to approve a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot in the general election in 2010 which would allow a 1% sales tax for state wide transportation projects and improvements. The major transportation initiatives are detailed in the legislation and it includes specific transportation projects across the state.  Also, the fourth penny of sales tax currently collected on motor fuel would be redirected from the general fund to transportation.  It would raise approximately $25 Billion during the next decade.  Transportation is a priority and we are trying to come up with a solution.

The House and Senate have differing legislative solutions to try and solve our transportation needs. The main difference is the Senate version would make the sales tax regional. The different versions for funding transportation will hopefully be worked out in Conference Committee.

As I have described in the previous weeks, our economy in the state and across the nation is struggling. We are faced with decreasing state revenues and we, as legislators, are facing more budget cuts than we ever have in previous years.  Federal stimulus funds will help to offset some of the cuts; however, with state revenues now estimated at $1.6 billion less for the fiscal year that begins July 1st, even more cuts are going to have to be implemented. 

As I have stated already, we have never experienced cuts to this extent in the state of Georgia and difficult decisions have to be made, none of which are easy. From the Federal Stimulus Package, we are going to accept approximately $1.1 billion which will help to soften the cuts, but many more cuts will have to be made. From the stimulus funds, $467 million will be used for the revised 2009 budget, to help fill some of the gaps. The rest of the Federal Stimulus money will be used to help cover some of the shortages in the 2010 budget.

Some have argued that we should accept all federal money that we are offered; however, as legislators in Georgia, we somewhat disagree.  For some of the Federal Stimulus funds we could accept, there are strings attached. As your elected officials, we are trying to figure out what the strings are and what federal money we are willing to accept. We have to do what is most beneficial to the people we represent and to the state of Georgia. Your opinions and concerns are important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you at the state capitol and in our district. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 401, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at


Sunday, March 1, 2009

lunsford weekly update

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

Your State’s Business

February 28th, 2009


As the sixth week (24th legislative day) of Georgia’s legislative session wraps up, many necessary items on the agenda were accomplished.  The Georgia House passed out the mid-year budget this week, which was a sigh of relief for some.  Overall, the bills that were passed covered a wide variety of issues. 


The budget is always the number one item on the agenda for the legislative session.  The supplemental appropriations bill for fiscal year beginning July 1, 2008 and ending June 30th, 2009 was passed out of the House on Thursday by 168 to 5.  The $18.9 billion midyear budget includes funding for the operation of State government, its departments, boards, bureaus, commissions, institutions, and other agencies.  With the aid of federal money (around $145 million), we were able to avoid some of the difficult cuts; however, we still had to cut back.  Given the challenges and constraints of these economic times, the budget we passed was very reasonable.  We tried to keep from hurting those that are most vulnerable in our society.  As I’ve mentioned in previous reports, the economic situation we are in makes detailing the budget for the state of Georgia a very difficult task.  We had to make approximately $2.6 billion in cuts and it was not an easy choice.  We realize that we are in hard times right now and we tried to restore funding that was necessary for the people.  For instance, we funded the Homeowner’s Tax Relief Grants and other various programs, such as the Meals on Wheels, which many of our seniors rely on. 


Education is a priority and in the budget we tried to restore some of the funding for education.  We realize how essential our local school systems are and how budget cuts can have drastic effects on our communities.  Now we will have to focus our attention to the next fiscal year which begins July 1st


SB 31, the Nuclear Energy Financing Act passed the House on Thursday by a vote of 107 to 66.  This Bill will allow Georgia Power to charge customers early to expand nuclear power reactors, a savings of approximately $300 million.  The average increase will be around $1.30 on each customer’s power bill.  By allowing Georgia Power to pre-bill, it will save customers money.  It will allow Georgia Power to raise customer rates in increments over seven years, instead of raising rates at the time of construction, which would have been around 12.4%. This bill will provide Georgia’s citizens with low cost and clean energy and in return will reduce the state’s reliance on coal and natural gas.  We are fortunate to have companies that are willing to invest in Georgia.  Since this bill has been passed by the House and Senate, it will now go to Governor Perdue. 


In 2008 we passed HB 1133 which provided an income tax credit to donations made to Student Scholarship Organizations (SSO).  These organizations provide scholarships for those attending public schools to attend private schools.  HB 100 passed out of the House on Tuesday and it modifies the legislation previously passed.  We authorized the Student Scholarship Organizations to allow private school students to also be able to receive scholarships and tuition grants. HB 100 requires the Student Scholarship Organization (SSO) to obligate 90% of its annual revenue for scholarships and tuition grants.  This ensures that multi-year scholarships will be funded.  The SSO will have to verify this obligation.  To simplify the tax credit, we also changed the taxpayer’s contribution limit to the amount expended or 75% of the taxpayer’s income tax liability, whichever is less.  Also included in this bill were requirements regarding privacy protection for donors and the organization.  As legislators, we want to ensure that we clarify and perfect any previous legislation so we have the best, most comprehensive legislation that affects the people we represent. I will keep you informed as the legislative session proceeds. Every legislator is accountable to the people he or she represents and I welcome your comments and input. Your opinions and concerns are important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you at the state capitol and in our district. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 401, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at









Sunday, February 22, 2009

lunsford weekly update

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

The State’s Budget and Homestead Tax Relief Grants  

February 22nd, 2009


As the fifth week (the 21st Legislative Day) of Georgia’s legislative session comes to an end, numerous pieces of legislation were discussed.  Activity has picked up significantly as the budget requirements were made clearer with the addition of $465 million in federal funding for Medicaid.  This additional funding has taken some of the pressure off the Medicaid funding parts of the budget which have federally-mandated requirements.


The first bill was passed out of the General Assembly this week and signed by the Governor would fund the Homeowner Tax Relief Grants for 2008.  This legislation, in place for almost a decade, provides state funding to local government taxing districts to help keep property taxes lower. By passing this legislation and the Governor signing it, we make good on our commitment to homeowners to continue to fight for lower property taxes thus keeping citizens in their homes, especially during this economic crisis.  For this legislative session, House Bill 143 was the first bill to be passed out of the Georgia General Assembly and signed by the Governor.  Citizens will not receive additional property tax bills for 2008 and this bill further states how the funding will be appropriated in future years.


In a Press Conference, top leadership in the General Assembly unveiled their plans for the Transforming Transportation Investment Act.  Transportation is a statewide issue that comes up every legislative session.  In a joint effort to try and improve transportation projects, Governor Perdue, Lt. Governor Cagle, and Speaker Richardson introduced the Transforming Transportation Investment Act.  The transportation plan would create a new State Transportation Authority (STA) composed of an eleven member board with five members chosen by the Governor, three by the Speaker, and the other three chosen by the Lieutenant Governor.  It would incorporate the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and the State Road and Tollway Authority into a new State Transportation Authority responsible for overseeing state and road project funding.  Once this piece of legislation comes to the House, we will take an in-depth look at it and will make an informed decision on whether or not it is the most effective solution for our transportation needs.   


Legislation this week that also was passed by the House includes HB 59.  This bill would exempt the sales tax on free drug samples provided by physicians and also on the samples used in clinical trials and research.  As legislators, we want to encourage physicians to continue to provide free drug samples to their patients, especially those that might be unable to pay for a prescription.  During hard economic times, people often cut back on medications and we need to ensure that the option of being able to use free drug samples is available and that the physicians continue to disperse it to the people.  This bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.  In addition we passed HB 217, a bill that will allow pharmacists and nurses to administer flu shots through the use of a written protocol formed between a doctor and either the pharmacist or nurse.  This is extremely important in rural and inner-city areas where doctors are less prevalent.  The legislation passed 160-3.


We unanimously passed HB 237, legislation that provides financial assistance for adoptive parents who adopt children classified as “hard-to-place.”  The legislation expands financial assistance to families that adopt hard-to-place children through private adoption agencies.  This includes children with mental, physical or emotional disabilities.  This legislation is designed to make Georgia more adoption-friendly. Every legislator is accountable to the people he or she represents and I welcome your comments and input. Your opinions and concerns are important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you at the state capitol and in our district. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 401, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at








Sunday, February 15, 2009

weekly update Feb 13th 2009

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

The State’s Budget and Legislation

February 13th, 2009


As your elected State Representative, it’s my duty to be honest and truthful to the people I represent.  Today, I want to explain and clarify the current economic situation in Georgia.  Like the majority of states across our nation, Georgia is experiencing an economic crisis and I want to forewarn the people in my district that there is no easy solution and we may have to take drastic steps in order to balance the budget including  the difficult task of deciding what cuts will be made. 


A balanced budget means that the amount of money spent during the fiscal year cannot exceed the amount of money collected.  This makes the budget process very complex, but ensures that the state of Georgia does not operate with a deficit.  Budget cuts of 10 % or more have already been enforced and additional cuts are expected.  The state revenue for January of this year dropped over 14%, a decline of around $260 million compared to January of last year.  But it’s evident that further budget cuts will have to be made.  The state of Georgia is now looking at close to $3 billion in cuts which will undoubtedly affect everyone in our state. 


This week, several important pieces of legislation were voted on in the House.  HR1 failed to obtain a constitutional majority by a vote of 105-67.  This Resolution would have allowed the citizens to vote on limiting the Property Tax Reassessment Caps on residential and commercial property.  The vote failed mainly because of the Democrats who voted against it, but it will be up for reconsideration. Most legislators realize that it’s important to have greater accountability of taxing authorities and transparency for the citizens in Georgia, so when this legislation comes up again, it’s my hope it will pass. 


Another bill relating to property tax reform, HB 233, passed the House on Friday by a vote of 110-63.  This Bill creates a two-year moratorium on property reassessment increases and requires that each parcel of property be reassessed at least once during that time. The property reassessment can be decreased during this time, but not increased.  Legislators are working together on this in an effort to keep property taxes down and make sure that reassessments are fair.  


As the economy worsens, unfortunately crime in Georgia is increasing.  HB 140 relates to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and would create a state-wide blue alert system to increase the apprehension of violent criminals who kill or seriously injure local, state, or federal law enforcement officers.  This bill is in the House Rules Committee and if passed would ensure the protection of our officers in Georgia and would help make certain that violent criminals are apprehended.  


This past week in the House was one of serious scrutiny as we carefully consider the best avenues for balancing our budget. Just as every family in Georgia is facing tough decisions about paying bills with less income, as legislators we must be responsible and methodical in our approach to making decisions regarding our state. My responsibility to you is my concern and I will keep you informed as the legislative session proceeds. Every legislator is accountable to the people he or she represents and I welcome your comments and input. Your opinions and concerns are important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you at the state capitol and in our district. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 401, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at


Monday, February 9, 2009

lunsford weekly update 2-6-2009

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

The Budget Shortfall is on everyone’s mind

February 6th, 2009


The 2009 General Assembly session has slowed down due to the current economic crisis and the looming $2 billion revenue to the state.  This critical shortage has forced the entire membership to first stop and understand that there isn’t any money for special projects, and worse yet, most current programs will face reductions in funding or outright elimination.  There is a very good reason why there hasn’t been much legislation looked at, because we are all looking at the budget, and determining how it affects us.


The schedule for the General Assembly has been modified by the leadership of the House and Senate.  This was done to slow the pace down of the constitutionally-mandated, no more than forty day session of which as of this past Friday, came to 15 days.  We are waiting to see what the federal stimulus package does for education and Medicaid funding which consumes a majority of the roughly $19 billion annual budget total.  The General Assembly will meet on Tuesday through Thursday of each week until the end of March, hoping to finish in 35 days.  It also will leave five days for a brief session should the economic crisis worsen and adjustment needed for the Fiscal Year 2010 budget.


The House has passed several meaningful pieces of legislation including House Bill 141, a bill that further updates our state banking code.  This includes amending the definition of “net assets” and “financial institutions”, reestablishes what a credit union is and is not, as well as other house-keeping rules.  This bill passed easily, 162-5.  We also modified the threshold requirements to purchase corporate owned life insurance from 10 employees to 2 employees.  H.B. 80 passed unanimously.

In an effort to help those who work in the state’s largest business, agriculture, we have ratified the Governor’s executive order which provides a state sales tax exemption for the sale of dyed fuel oils which are used exclusively for agriculture, timber growing, harvesting, and mining or construction purposes.  This bill, H.B. 121 passed unanimously also.  We also passed H.B. 69, a bill that would allow for the change in criteria for determining “candidate for non-resuscitation” from needing two physicians to only one.  The bill also clarified that 2 physicians were required to concur on an order not to resuscitate.  This bill easily passed 153-4.  We unanimously passed H.B. 128, a bill that would exempt from occupation taxes, administration fees, and regulatory fees, those self-employed individuals that are also disabled veterans or blind.


One bill that has received and will receive continued attention is Governor Sonny Perdue’s plan to create a “hospital tax.”  The bill, H.B. 307, was introduced this week as a way to overcome the $423 million shortfall in the state’s Department of Community Health’s budget.  The bill would require hospitals to pay the state a 1.6 percent “provider-fee” out of their net patient revenues.  The taxes collected will allow the DCH to leverage those funds for additional Medicaid funding from the federal government.  At this point in time, the legislation faces an uphill battle as many in the legislature don’t understand Hospital finance and worse yet don’t have time to learn it.

I will keep you informed through weekly updates. Your opinions and concerns are important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you at the state capitol and in our district. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 401, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at      


Sunday, February 1, 2009

lunsford weekly update

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's Weekly Capitol Update

Beginning of session


January 30, 2009


During this week of the legislative session, several bills were on the agenda.  Although the session has just begun, we, as legislators, are already in full swing deciding on numerous important pieces of legislation.  Governor Sonny Perdue gave his State of the State address two weeks ago and included his budget recommendations for the amended 2009 budget and the 2010 fiscal year budget.  Two major tax bills were on the calendar for debate on Friday, only one of which was voted upon. The House passed HB 143 on Friday, the Homeowners Tax Relief Grant legislation (HTRG), and it has been sent to the Senate for consideration.  Next week, members of the House of Representatives will vote on HR1 which will decide the fate of Property Reassessment Caps. 


In this current budget climate, what we are dealing with is the same thing every individual family in Georgia has to deal with.  Our income is down and some tough choices and decisions have to be made.  When times get tough, we have to cut back.  Families all across Georgia are making some similar decisions that we as lawmakers are facing with our budget.  In this climate, with such a severe economic downtown, we have to look at our options concerning the budget and cut back on nonessential and some essential items.  It is a challenging and sometimes heart wrenching task.


With a $2.2 billion budget deficit, the Governor had tough choices to make in his proposal.  The issue is revenue.  By using some of the money in the Revenue Shortfall Reserve (RSR), also known as Georgia’s rainy day fund, the Governor is hoping to get through the difficult economic times Georgians are facing.  In the Governor’s recommended 2009 Amended Budget, $187 million was used from the Midyear Adjustment Reserve and $50 million from the RSR.  For the 2010 budget, $408 million was included from the reserve. 


The Governor’s proposal is the recommendations for the budget.  We are in the process of budget hearings to determine our version of the budget, as is the Senate.  Using the Governor’s revenue estimate, set at around $19.2 billion for the rest of 2009 and $20.2 billion for fiscal year 2010, the members of the House will decide how we believe the money in the budget should be spent.  The House and Senate will then come to an agreement on a budget proposal to be voted on by both chambers.


The Governor’s proposal would eliminate the Homeowner’s Property Tax Relief Grants, essentially saving the state $428 million.  The problem that arises is that if it is not funded, this amount is placed onto the property owners in Georgia, another bill for $200-300.  With many families facing dire economic times, this could become a burden on families in our communities.  The legislature promised this money last year and the House plans on fulfilling the promise they made to property owners.  The members of the House are struggling with the idea of how to fund the grant this year and on Friday we passed HB 143 by a 117-55 margin.  This Homeowners Tax Relief Grant legislation commits us to pay for the grant covering the 2009 budget and sets the rules for how the grant program will be administered in the future.  This program is intended to be a mechanism to send back surplus funds to homeowners and the legislation we passed outlines how and when these grants will be distributed and will also make it easier for local governments to plan their budgets.  I am honored to be your representative. I will keep you informed through weekly updates. Your opinions and concerns are important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you at the state capitol and in our district. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 401, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at


Saturday, January 24, 2009

lunsford weekly update

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

The Budget work goes on during the break

January 24th, 2009


On January 12, 2009, the 150th legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly was gaveled open as members of the House of Representatives and members of the Senate were sworn in for our legislative duties.  This process repeats itself every two years following the elections, and the winners of the 180 districts in the House and 56 districts in the Senate are seated to serve their district and state. 


The first week is mainly an organizational week for the General Assembly as few bills are debated.  It is used to elect the leadership of the House of Representatives and assign the membership to the many standing committees.  It is also used to develop strategies for tackling our biggest problems, mainly this year, a $2 billion shortfall in the Fiscal Year 2009 budget. 


Also last week, the Governor unveiled highlights in his Amended Fiscal Year 2009 and his Fiscal Year 2010 budget recommendations.  The General Assembly reviews two budgets a year.  The first is the review of the FY 2009 budget which begins July 1 every year.  In January, we begin to review that budget to see if we are short funding for mandatory programs like education and healthcare. 


The second budget, or what we call the “big budget,” is used to set spending policy to fund the state government for the upcoming fiscal year.  The Governor each year introduces his mid-year corrections and his policy and program funding for the next year.  The General Assembly is tasked with reviewing the budget and making changes where we see fit.  It is part of the oversight responsibility that the citizens have to insure that the Governor is doing the right thing.


The FY 2009 budget is set at $19.2 billion which includes a devastating $2.2 billion cut to most state agencies and programs.  The FY 2010 budget is set at $20.2 billion.  The state’s “Rainy Day Fund” now stands at $1.2 billion.  More details on the budget initiatives will be discussed in the upcoming weeks.


Some of the highlights unveiled in the Governor’s State of the State speech included the requisite budget issues, as well as, several key initiatives that the Governor wants to launch.  Most notably of his various proposals was a decision to overhaul the Department of Human Resources.  DHR is Georgia's human service agency whose mission is to strengthen Georgia families by providing services through about 80 programs that ensure their health and welfare.  Unfortunately, this department, by far the biggest in the state, has grown into a bureaucracy unto itself.  DHR encompasses programs that help Georgians who suffer mental retardation, mental health problems, assistance to the poor and senior services.  Many of these programs are very much needed, but the level of bureaucracy has made them unwieldy and limited their ability to “best” serve those that need the help.


One bill was debated and that was House Resolution 1022.  The resolution ratifies the comprehensive state water management plan that was adopted by the State Water Council.  It overwhelmingly passed 131-37.


After completing the first five days of this year’s session, the House and Senate broke for a week to begin budget hearings in front of joint meeting of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. 


Most state agency directors did testify before the Joint Appropriations hearings to discuss their agencies and their priorities.  In addition, it allows for your elected representation to ask questions regarding various programs and to ascertain their viability. I will keep you informed through weekly updates. Your opinions and concerns are important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you at the state capitol and in our district. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 401, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at         





Sunday, January 18, 2009

lunsford weekly update

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

What’s happening this session?

January 16, 2009


As the 2009 Legislative Session convenes this week, we will be addressing issues that are being discussed around kitchen tables throughout the state of Georgia. As Georgians in every corner of our state closely watch their bottom line during this economic downturn, it will also be a tough session for lawmakers as we determine the fate of state programs and projects as we face a budget deficit.

            Since state tax revenues are lower than had been projected, we will have to address spending cuts for the last six months of the current fiscal year. Gov. Sonny Perdue has proposed a large program funded on borrowing, but has not detailed how he would spend the money. We are also waiting to see how much President-elect Obama’s stimulus package will affect individual states. Once these two issues are clarified, we will have to roll up our sleeves and determine the most responsible way to proceed.

            In regard to taxes, both House and Senate leaders have expressed support for plans to cap property taxes, although the details have not been agreed upon. We recognize that any tax relief would be welcomed by the citizens of Georgia, but we must be diligent so that any such legislation doesn’t get drowned by dissenting legislators in a myriad of party-line details.

            Roads and transportation will also be a major issue this session. As the more populous cities in the state experience an increase in traffic congestion, and as rural areas desire roads to entice employers, at the same time environmental groups want a mass transit system.  All three interests are being represented as business groups and environmentalists are jointly lobbying for a constitutional amendment that would allow a group of counties to impose a regional sales tax to support transportation projects. The proposal would have to be passed by voters in the 2010 general election, so there is time for us to carefully consider all of the ramifications.

            Trauma care is an issue that lawmakers have wrestled with for years and one that will likely be another top priority. Because there is a dire need for a dedicated funding source for a statewide network of facilities to provide advanced trauma care, including specialized equipment, air transportation for patients, and physicians, this is a cause for legitimate concern. Without a solution, there is a concern that trauma centers could be forced to close amid recent operating losses in the millions of dollars. Because of the dire need coupled with a suffering economy, this will undoubtedly be a hot-button topic again this year.

            The Savannah Port continues to create jobs and bring in significant revenue for the state, and because of this the harbor deepening project that the Georgia Ports Authority hopes to partially fund with money from the state will more than likely be approved. The Port wants to deepen the harbor from 42 feet to 48 feet to allow for larger vessels. Due to the budget crisis, it is more than likely that bonds will be issued to pay for this construction project. It is most likely that a final review of this project will take place later this year.  Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 286,000 jobs throughout the state and contribute $14.9 billion in income and almost $3 billion in state and local taxes.  I am honored to be your representative. I will keep you informed through weekly updates. Your opinions and concerns are important to me and I consider it an honor to serve you at the state capitol and in our district. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 401, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at