As I see it - the 2013 Session of the Georgia General Assembly

Representative Brett Harrell previews several key issues before the 2013 session of the Georgia General Assembly.

The Georgia House of Representatives convenes at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, January 14 for the first of forty legislative days comprising the 2013 session. Several of the key issues I anticipate considering include:

  • Adopting a Constitutionally required balanced State Budget that addresses an initial shortfall of $400+ million in state Medicaid/PeachCare funding. Debate will include continuation of the Hospital Provider Fee (Bed Tax) that excluded raises the shortfall to $600+ million. Further, though Governor Deal has indicated Georgia will not participate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) expansion of Medicaid, members will certainly request reconsideration. If Georgia were to expand coverage under this program, the systemic budget shortfall may exceed $1.2+ billion. I appreciate Governor Deal’s reasoning and support his decision for Georgia to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. While I also understand the arguments in favor of extending the Hospital Provider Fee, I oppose doing so and will support efforts to reform Georgia’s Medicaid program to reduce costs and close the budget deficit through less taxing measures.

  • Ethics Reform disguised as limiting lobbyists gifts to $100 or less. I believe our focus on ethics reform is somewhat misplaced and I fear that a simple lobbyist gift limit will result in widespread abuse of intent and an angrier citizenry eighteen months from now. I would prefer strengthening the State Ethics Commission by establishing a dedicated funding source perhaps a percentage of campaign contributions collected; permitting rule-making authority and subpoena powers to compel violators to answer charges; and retention of all fees collected to fund future audits, investigations, and operations. I also believe true ethics reform must consider the influence of governmental lobbyists that rarely appear on any disclosure form while daily spending your tax dollars advocating all too often for more government, bureaucracy, regulations, and taxation that simply is not in your best interest.

  • Pro and Anti-Gun advocates will most assuredly be pushing significant legislation. While I support protecting and expanding our liberties with regard to firearms to include church and campus carry, I suspect the best firearms advocates should expect this session is a strong defense against restricting current statutes further.

  • The Georgia World Congress Center Authority / Falcons Stadium tentative agreement is moving forward toward a 2017 stadium opening. A final agreement may require legislative approval to increase the bonding capacity of the GWCCA from $200 million to $300 million. From what I have read, public opinion remains largely opposed. Last session I co-signed a House Resolution, HR 1871, urging the GWCCA to use free-market principles in any negotiations regarding a new stadium. Based on all the information I have reviewed to date, I will vote against increased bonding capacity to support a new stadium.

The Georgia House and Senate will consider numerous other issues as well. Please keep me informed on the issues most important to you and your family. Whether we agree on a particular issue or not, I value your input and appreciate you sharing your opinions with me.


Happy New Year,


Brett Harrell
Representative, District 106
(404) 966-5804 cell

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George Wilson January 09, 2013 at 08:15 PM
@ Tim Here is what Thomas Jefferson had to say about the constitution. From a letter 1816 to Samuel Kercheval: "Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the Ark of the Covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it....But I also know that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times." I would suggest that the the "new discoveries" Jefferson talks about in his letter could be weapons that kill large groups of people quickly like assault rifles with large bullet clips. Maybe the constitution needs to be modified ,if we have put up with these high gun/ murder rates.
Tim January 09, 2013 at 09:04 PM
The rights given in the Constitution are based on Universal truths and in my opinion are timeless. God given rights concerning the human soul, freedom, liberty and with the understanding that the Ego, especially those of Narsaccists like all dictators and the one we have in the WH, need to be restrained. You keep referring to the weapons as assault weapons, as all liberals do. They are assault weapons in the hands of military and evil people. They are defense weapons in the hands of law abiding citizens such as myself. And your statement about the mind evolving is BS. I am educated with two degrees but my mind does not shift to and fro with different circumstances, because I believe in the Truths of the Bible and the sanctity of the Constitution. We came to America to worship God as we pleased, to get out from under the tyranny of King George, and the Constitution reflects that. A pitiful argument you provide. Humanity has a Moral problem. It is called Evil. Why don't you put your energy towards "enlightening" the criminals about new truths and manners. God and the Bible are my Ultimate Authority and when I lie down to sleep at night, the bible is nearby along with my weapon.
George Wilson January 09, 2013 at 09:41 PM
@ Tim In reviewing the "facts" on gun laws, I noticed that the NRA and its allies had put in enough loop holes in many laws at the state and federal level to make sure that they failed or were not as effective. For example, the ability to buy guns at shows without a background check was a major loophole. There are many other examples. In addition, the CDC was deprived of funds to do an objective study on the issue of gun regulations. Perhaps they (NRA) were afraid the truth would come out because they were behind the effort.
George Wilson January 09, 2013 at 09:48 PM
@Tim I was just quoting Thomas Jefferson who appears to not be as rigid and doctrinaire in his thinking. Personally, I always expect any threat to my liberty to come in the form of a choir robe or a multi- national corporation. From what I can tell it appears to be slowly arriving especially in the South.
George Wilson January 17, 2013 at 03:33 PM
If the state needs more revenue to fund Medicaid or restore funding to our schools, than it could be achieved by hiking the state's super-low cigarette tax, or revising the state's obsolete tax code, parts of which were written in the 1950s.This would include reducing the number of sales tax exemptions (over 100) to special interest groups. The most glaring being the sales tax exemption to Delta on fuel.It is estimated that if all of sales tax exemptions were eliminated that the sales tax could be reduced from 4 % to about 2.5 % .Even better, apply that extra money to fund our schools which have had their funding reduced by the Republicans. Another area would be to examine the tax breaks given to corporations that are suppose to increase jobs. We currently have nothing in place to evaluate whether or not this objective is being reached .If not we could eliminate some of this "corporate welfare". Georgia ranks 4th in the nation for its pro business climate. The people have little to show for it. For example: In 2001, Georgia ranked number 17 in poverty, by 2011 we ranked number sixth. In 2001 we were 25th in per -capita income today we rank 39th.We also have the nation's fifth highest rate of those without health insurance but our Republican government is refusing to expand Medicaid. We need real leadership at the state capital and the people of Georgia are getting short changed .But because of the undemocratic gerrymandered districts we can do little about the problem.


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