Sunday, March 28, 2010

lunsford weekly update

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

March 26, 2010


The Georgia General assembly adjourned on Friday, Crossover Day, and the thirtieth legislative day of the 2010 session.  We adjourned in the wee hours of Saturday morning and the tensions had grown worse as some who are running for higher office and the democrats debated almost every bill throughout the evening. This combined effort resulted in leaving many good pieces of legislation on the table. The ethics bill that prevented elected officials that owed taxes from serving was one of those measures. They    mini filibustered as much as they could; another causality was the hall of fame museums in Macon.   As we began the day on Friday, we had 36 Bills and Resolutions and more were added throughout the day.  As far as the Fiscal Year 2011 budget, subcommittee meetings will continue on Monday as we work to finalize the House version of the budget.  We will be in session for three days next week, and the other days working on committees.


HB 1023 the 2010 JOBS bill passed a it is a very important omnibus bill it was originally sponsored by Tom Graves of Ranger Georgia but was carried in the house by John Lunsford  , This bill is projected to bring over 254 million dollars in new wages to Georgia, by year two. It also removes net worth tax, helps balance the unemployment insurance pool, and many other items including tax credits for angel investors. Maybe the most important bill so far this session.


The construction industry has suffered during these tough economic times.  To ensure that additional costs are not placed upon some of those in the industry, especially homebuilders, the House passed HB 1196.  This bill states that building codes cannot require that fire sprinklers be installed in a single-family dwelling or a residential building that contains no more than two units.  The legislature understands that if this was required, it would place additional costs associated with building homes and would be an unreasonable requirement.


Teachers are an essential asset within all of our communities and schools.  We passed HB 1307 which relates to teacher certification and will temporarily suspend the professional learning requirements for a certification renewal for teachers and paraprofessionals for five years, beginning July 1st 2010. This bill will also not require that a course be completed in computer skill competency, as is currently required. 


Many of us get frustrated when driving and other vehicles are in the fast lane and are going below the speed limit and impeding the flow of traffic.  It is already currently a law that the person driving is suppose to move into the slow lane; however, we passed House Bill 1047  which promotes the  safe operation of the vehicle while driving, vehicles going slower in the fast lane can be a safety hazard.



In an effort to entice physicians to rural areas of Georgia, we passed HB 866, the Physicians for Rural Areas Assistance Act.  This will allow rural hospitals, other health care entities, local governments, and civic organizations to receive matching grants from the State Medical Education Board for the purpose of attracting physicians to rural areas throughout the state. 


Gold Star specialty license plates are available for those who have had a family member that served our country and was killed in action.  The House unanimously passed HB 1012 to make this specialty plate also available to siblings and step-parents as it currently is only available to the spouse, mother, or father of a fallen service member.


Just as the state of Georgia provides tax credits for back to school purchases and energy-star appliances every year, we passed an additional credit for equipment.  The passage of HB 1069 will provide a tax credit in the amount of either a 25% credit of the cost of the equipment or $2,500 for taxpayers that purchase certain energy or water efficient equipment as part of a new construction or retrofit.  This will be available with federal funds granted to Georgia specifically for that purpose.


As the General Assembly continues to do the people’s work, session will continue until midnight or longer as we finish up Crossover Day on Friday.  Although a long day, the members stay to ensure that the work of the people is completed before we leave for the day.  We serve in the legislature always on behalf of those we represent.  On Crossover Day, legislation is given adequate time on the floor for debate and possible passage.  After passage by the House, legislation then goes to the Senate and the process is repeated.  Although seen as a long process for a bill to become a law, it helps to ensure that we continue to do the people’s work and only essential and necessary legislation makes its way through the process and awaits the signature of our Governor to become law.  With ten legislative session days left, I will continue to give legislative updates for the 2010 session. Should you have any ideas, questions, or concerns, please feel free to contact me (404) 656-0213 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 508 clob, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at


Sunday, March 21, 2010

lunsford weekly update

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

March 21, 2010

The Georgia General Assembly concluded this week on Thursday, the 27th Legislative Day.  The committees continued to work on Friday and some through the weekend. The days during session are now longer and the members are concentrating on the bills within their committees and those arriving on the House floor for debate and possibly passage.  The speed and intensity of the legislative session is increasing daily as we vote upon legislation which has made its way through the committee process.  With Cross-Over Day vastly approaching, next Thursday will mark the last day during which a bill must be passed by one Chamber in order to be considered by the other.  As discussed each week, the budget remains at the top of our priority list.  Since we have received incoming revenue figures, the members of the House Appropriations Committee are working tirelessly with our budget office and are in the process of finalizing our proposed Fiscal Year 2011 budget, which will then go to the Senate for consideration.  The General Assembly made a major stride this week in regard to conserving water in Georgia.

            A key vote this week was the passage of the Water Stewardship Act of 2010.  Conserving water and ensuring that this vital resource is available to Georgians has been a key concern, especially in recent years with the drought many of us throughout the state have experienced.   This bill uses both incentives and requirements to promote the conservation of water in the state.  Senate Bill 370 passed both the House and the Senate and now awaits the signature of Governor Perdue.

            The House also passed HB 396 this week, which deals with how the funding for school transportation can be used.  Previously the funding designated for school buses could only be used for the new purchases of school buses; however, many schools simply needed their buses to be refurbished.  This bill allows the State Board of Education to have the ability to use the funds to refurbish the buses which might need work.  This could save the local school systems millions of dollars each year and in especially during times like these, we are looking to every means possible to save money.

            Collecting taxes owed to the state are one of the issues the Department of Revenue is experiencing.  This increases our budget shortfall, as those collections the state is expecting are not being received.  The members passed HB 982 which will provide for an administrative garnishment process to allow the Department to more efficiently collect delinquent taxes on active businesses.  Numerous other southern states already use this process and this bill will improve the collection process here in Georgia.

            Currently, drivers in Georgia that have previously had eyesight problems and were required to wear glasses or contact lenses and found guilty of failing to do so would have their license temporarily suspended even if they had had corrective surgery. To correct the issue, the House passed HB 1224 so that if this driving violation occurs, the driver can provide proof that they no longer suffer from an eye condition and will avoid the suspension and penalties.

            As we get older, many of us experience arthritis.  It is the most common form of disability and affects one in every five Americans.  By passing HB 1119, this bill would create the Arthritis Prevention and Control Program to increase the public's awareness of arthritis, promote early detection and prevention, and to make information available on diagnosing and treating arthritis.


            Encouraging and attracting businesses in Georgia is a priority to the General Assembly.  Businesses help our economies grow, from the state level down to the local.  We passed HB 1082 to allow local government to exempt all inventory from ad valorem taxes.  Increasing economic development here in Georgia has many benefits and this legislation follows that of surrounding states to allow cities and counties to remove ad valorem taxes on inventory. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions, ideas, or concerns.  The legislative update will continue throughout the 2010 session. Should you have any ideas, questions, or concerns, please feel free to contact me (404) 656-0213 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 508 clob, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at






Sunday, March 14, 2010

weekly update from lunsford

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

March 14, 2010

The General Assembly went back into legislative session this week after our two week recess whereby the members analyzed the budget, looked for potential areas to trim the budget, and awaited the incoming revenue figures.  Our top concern remains to finding the best solutions for balancing the budget.   On Monday, our first day back from the recess, the General Assembly received news we were all expecting and waiting on, incoming revenue figures.  Although the General Assembly had high hopes that the economy was improving, the incoming revenue figures for February fell nearly ten percent in comparison to last year.   This marks the continued decline of incoming revenue  for the fifteenth consecutive month.  Hoping for good news, the numbers were better than we expected; however, any amount of decreasing revenue for the state equates to trimming, and therefore balancing, the budget.  Our optimism remains and the economy will eventually improve. 

On Thursday, Governor Perdue stated that the revenue figures first released would have to be revised.  On a positive note, the budget will not have to be cut as much as we expected.  As I have previously explained, the budget hearings that have taken place over the last two weeks were preparing us for the worst, but hoping for the best.  As legislators, we wanted to be prepared should the revenue figures had been more than anticipated.  The General Assembly has been planning for a potential $1 billion in additional cuts; however, the numbers were not as severe, although we were preparing for it.  For the current fiscal year, the revised amount is an additional $342 million in cuts in comparison to Perdue's original estimates.  For the budget in Fiscal Year 2011, which begins on July 1st,  the revenue estimates must be trimmed by $443 million which puts the budget at $17.7 billion.  Although cuts are tough, many of us were relieved that the budget will not have to be cut by the projected $1 billion.  While the state was improving and doing well, we were able to expand services and increase our budget.  Now times are tough and we have to make some difficult decisions as our budget goes back to the level it was in 2005 and 2006. 

On Wednesday, March 10th the members honored and reflected upon the service by former Speaker of the House, Thomas Murphy.  As Speaker in Georgia for 28 years, Speaker Murphy was the longest serving speaker in the history of legislatures.  Outside the House Chamber, a picture of Speaker Murphy was placed and reminds all of us about hard work, dedication, and leadership. After all, the House is called the "People's House."

Many important pieces of legislation passed the House this week.  With the budget still on all of our minds, legislation that is beneficial to the citizens is also of importance.  House Bill 1135 passed out of the House this week which would allow the Department of Transportation (DOT) to enter into multi-year contracts in one year increments.  Currently, the funds for a project for DOT must be available before a contract is signed; however, this will allow the DOT  to sign the contract and obligate the funds for it and thereby improving efficiency and appropriated the funds responsibly.  Unanimously passed this week was HB 984 which would ensure that taxpayers would not be potentially taxed by both the county and the city for a 1% income tax on individuals and/or businesses.   It would be burdensome to allow cities and counties to place another tax on income especially when many families are struggling financially. Relating to the payment for teacher's certification fees, the House passed HB 1079 which allows additional payment methods of credit or debit cards to pay those fees.  Currently only check or money order can be used and by allowing other forms, it makes it more convenient for our teachers.  Another bill related to education passed this week was HB 1013 which would require school boards to publish in the newspaper an annual summary of their sales tax for education (ESPLOST).  This is already required by cities and counties that receive special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) and to ensure transparency in both, the boards of education should also be required to do the same.  I will continue to keep you informed as we progress through the 2010 legislative session.  Should you have any ideas, questions, or concerns, please feel free to contact me (404) 656-0213 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 508 clob, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at




Tuesday, March 9, 2010

weekly update from Rep Lunsford

Under the Gold Dome

State Representative John Lunsford's

Weekly Capitol Update

The State’s Budget and Legislation

March 9, 2010


Last week the General Assembly concluded the last week of our two week recess to work on the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget.  It is a difficult task to balance the budget for the state, but one that must be effectively done.  Budget hearings have consumed all of our time over the last two weeks as we look for ways to reduce state spending and increase revenue.  It is difficult when the state has been financially supporting many state agencies and departments and now current economic conditions have forced us to make difficult budgetary decisions.  Due to the decrease in incoming revenue to the state, we must reduce spending so we can have a balanced budget.  The General Assembly should receive the revenue figures for February sometime next week and we will be able to better determine exactly what the monetary amount of cuts will have to be made.  Appropriations Subcommittee meetings this week included Public Safety and Higher Education. 

Over the last few weeks, many citizens have called or written with concerns over the proposed cuts to the budget.  As I have stated before, the state of Georgia is experiencing revenue shortfalls and we must trim the budget to the bare essentials and necessities. Financial hardships are something many Georgians are experiencing and the state is as well.  We have to make sacrifices and we all must share part of the ever slimming pie.  Just as families are reducing their spending, the state must also do the same. 

Many have expressed concerns this week over the proposed University System of Georgia budget cuts.  The cuts that have been proposed this week were not from the members of the General Assembly, these cuts were the proposals from the University System of Georgia.  As legislators, we went to each department and state agency and asked them to propose ways that they could cut spending.  With the understanding that cuts are not an easy decision, we let them tell us where the cuts could be made.  The budget cuts that were recommended by the University System of Georgia are their proposals and included items such as potential tuition increase, eliminating positions, reducing the acceptance number of incoming freshmen, and other various spending cuts.  As your elected official, I want you to know that these suggestions are just proposals that the University system have given us.  We will work with them to find other ways to cut the budget so it has the least possible impact on the citizens of Georgia.

Numerous people have contacted our office this week in regard to the 4-H Program.  The General Assembly supports this program and did not make the proposal to eliminate it.  We will look at every means possible to ensure the programs that are important to the citizens of Georgia remain; however, cuts involving many services and programs should be expected.  The suggestion to eliminate the 4-H Program was made this week during a budget hearing by one of the University Presidents.  Once again, this was a proposal made by the University System of Georgia and all proposed measures will be decided by the General Assembly.  Our intentions were to make the Departments aware that more cuts will be coming and allow them to give us some input as to where the cuts could come from; however, the proposals made are just possibilities.  The legislators will work together to make cuts and ensure that the programs most needed are funded to the best of our ability. On Monday, we will go back into session for legislative day number twenty-one.  Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns that you may have.  I always look forward to the input of those I represent.  . If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-7573 or write me at: State Rep. John Lunsford, 508 clob, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA  30334 or e-mail me at