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The Race To Be The Republican Nominee Continues

The Race To Be The Republican Nominee Continues
Republican Nominee

After the First Republican Presidential Primary Debates, Contenders Looked to Gain Momentum at the 2015 RedState Gathering. 

The weekend of August 6-8, we welcomed 10 GOP presidential candidates and dozens of other leading conservative voices to our state for the 2015 RedState Gathering. This event was started in 2009 by Erick Erickson, who is also the creator of the conservative political website RedState.com, hence the event’s name.

At this year’s RedState Gathering, Erickson invited some of the top 2016 contenders, like Carly FiorinaChris ChristieMarco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and several others. Amongst those not invited were Ben Carson and Donald Trump. After seeing Carson speak at a veterans event, Erickson felt that he was not a serious candidate because he appeared to only care to talk about himself. Erickson has since come forth and said that he made a mistake not inviting Carson to this year’s RedState Gathering. Donald Trump, on the other hand, was initially invited, but after his remarks towards Megyn Kelly in the Fox News-Facebook Republican presidential primary debate, Erickson rescinded the invitation.

Many topics were discussed during this year’s Gathering, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ObamaCare, foreign policy, and of course, Hillary Clinton. This year’s race is tight, and all of the candidates bring so many different things to the table, from their backgrounds to their opinions. I’m looking forward to seeing how they progress in the race. How about you? What are your thoughts on the 2016 GOP candidates at this point?

Sources: FoxNews.com and RedState.com

 

 

 

2019 Legislative Session – Week 9

We are fast approaching “Sine Die,” the last day of the 2019 legislative session. The House will adjourn on March 29th. In the last 32 legislative days, the House has passed over 160 pieces of legislation! As we draw near to the end of session, I encourage you to reach out to me with any questions. Keep reading to learn what the House passed in week 9.

House Bill 316: Paper Ballots

House Bill 316, sponsored by Rep. Barry Fleming (district 121), changes our voting method by introducing a ballot-marking device with a paper ballot that can be audited. This bill also extends the notice period required for the closing or moving of an existing voting precinct, implements extensive corrective measures for absentee ballots, and extends the amount of time a voter can be inactive before being removed from Georgia voter rolls. Our new voting system will:

-use secure touchscreen ballot markers that are not connected to the internet,
-produce verifiable paper ballots that voters can verify before submitting,
-have the ability to be audited to ensure accuracy,
-and will provide greater accessibility for disabled voters and voters who speak foreign languages.

Passing the Amended Budget

Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, Speaker David Ralston, and leaders from the House and Senate gathered to sign the Amended Budget for Fiscal Year 2019. This budget allocates funds for public education, expands school security initiatives, increases access to healthcare in rural Georgia, and helps farmers and agri-businesses impacted by Hurricane Michael.


Thank you for visiting my blog to learn about what your representatives are working on for the state of Georgia. As the General Assembly works to pass more legislation, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions and concerns. Please return to my blog next week for more updates on this year’s session.

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Emaildale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

2019 Legislative Session – Week 8

Last Wednesday, March 6th, was Crossover Day at the Capitol. Crossover Day is the last day for bills to pass from one chamber to the other and still have a chance to become a law. In this blog post, I’ll share highlights from 4 key bills the House passed during week 8 of the 2019 Legislative session.

House Bill 324 – Georgia’s Hope Act 

HB 324, sponsored by Rep. Micah Gravley (district 67), is known as Georgia’s Hope Act. This bill makes way for the production, manufacturing, and dispensing of low THC oil with a lawful valid license by the Low THC Oil License Oversight Board for sixteen diseases currently allowed under the Georgia Law.

THC Oil Approved illnesses

House Bill 511 – Improving Georgia Transit

HB 511, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (district 9) creates the Department of Mobility and Innovation to govern and coordinate transit services across Georgia. This bill will establish a fee on ride-share services used for transit and transit projects and will create a pilot program for incentives to employers who provide transit benefits to employees. House Bill 511 abolishes the Georgia Regional Transit Authority and moves current employees to the new department. The State Road and Tollway Authority and the Atlanta-Region Transit Link would be attached to this department.

House Bill 247 – Protecting Georgia’s Elderly Citizens

HB 247, sponsored by Rep. Deborah Silcox (district 52), provides that all forms of battery against persons 65 or older will be considered a felony. This bill changes the definition of exploitation to include the illegal taking of resources belonging to a disabled adult or elderly adult when access those resources were obtained due to a victim’s incapacity. House Bill 247 allows law enforcement to conduct inspections of unlicensed personal care homes when acting as an agent of the Department of Community Health.

House Bill 234 – Helping Victims of Human Trafficking

HB 234 – The Anit-Human Trafficking Protective Response Act, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Efstration (district 104), authorizes the DFCS to provide emergency care of any child who is the victim of human trafficking without a court order or consent of the parents or legal guardian. This bill directs DFCS and law enforcement to take the child to a victim services organization certified by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to provide comprehensive trauma-informed services. HB 234 also limits the prosecution of prostitution to individuals who are 18 years old or older.


Thank you for visiting my blog to learn about what your representatives are working on for the state of Georgia. As the General Assembly works to pass more legislation, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions and concerns. Please return to my blog next week for more updates on this year’s session.

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Emaildale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

2019 Legislative Session – Week 7

Last week, the House passed the Fiscal Year 2020 budget. The General Assembly spends a considerable amount of time in committee meetings, discussing the needs of our state to pass a budget that will help Georgia prosper.  Keep reading for more details on this measure and feel free to email me about any budget questions you may have: dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

Passing the FY 2020 Budget

House Bill 31 is set by a revenue estimate of $27.5 billion—a 3.95% increase over the FY 2019 current budget. Below are a few highlights from the FY 2020 budget.

-Recognizes an increase of $38.6 million in new revenue for transportation—an increase of 7% over the current year budget.

-Includes $2.4 million to establish the initial budget for the ATL authority

-Provides $300,000 for the creation of the Blight Removal and Code Enforcement (BRACE) program, which gives grants to communities with a population of 2,500 or less to initiate a free, neighborhood-level cleanup for areas with the most code violations and blight

-Includes a $2,775 pay raise for certified teachers and certified personnel

-$174,000 has been appropriated to hire two school safety threat assessment trainers to work with local school systems to develop threat assessment plans. This allocation is a result of recommendations from the 2018 House School Security Study Committee.

-Includes $78.4 million in the Department of Community Health for Medicaid growth

For more news and highlights about the budget, visit: http://www.house.ga.gov/budget/en-US/newsandhighlights.aspx

Visit the Georgia House of Representatives website for more information about pending legislation, session photos, committee appointments, and several more resources.  There are also  Video Broadcasts of session available weekly.


Thank you for visiting my blog to learn about what your representatives are working on for the state of Georgia. As the General Assembly works to pass more legislation, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions and concerns. Please return to my blog next week for more updates on this year’s session.

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Emaildale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

 

2019 Legislative Session – Week 6

In this blog post, I share highlights from week 6 of the 2019 legislative session. You can find out about more bills the House is working on by following the Georgia House of Representatives on Facebook and Twitter.

House Bill 59: Supporting Service Members and their Families – Education Committee

HB 59, sponsored by Rep. Dave Belton (district 112), would allow parents or guardians on active military duty to pre-enroll children into school when official military orders require them to transfer into or within Georgia. Children will be able to enroll in the same way as residents within the school system – in the public school of the student’s attendance zone or in a public school in a school system in which the military base or off-base housing is located.

House Bill 158: Assisting Citizens with HIV/AIDS – Health and Human Services Committee

HB 158, sponsored by Rep. Deborah Silcox (district 52), states that persons on Medicaid or the AIDS Drug Assistance Program formulary for HIV/AIDS medications will be able to stay on their regimen even if their economic status changes. Each HIV/AIDS patient costs Medicaid $338,000. However, untreated cases would cost Medicaid $1.79 million per patient. This bill emphasizes the importance of HIV/AIDS treatment following a single-tablet regimen format. Studies show that patients are more likely to follow this regimen.

House Resolution 37: Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics

HB 37, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (district 9), creates the Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics. This commission would study and decide the best course of action for the future funding and policy development of the freight and logistics industries.


Thank you for visiting my blog to learn about what your representatives are working on for the state of Georgia. As the General Assembly works to pass more legislation, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions and concerns. Please return to my blog next week for more updates on this year’s session.

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Emaildale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

2019 Legislative Session – Week 5

In week 5 of this year’s legislative session, the General Assembly passed House Bill 25, House Bill 184, and Senate Bill 25.

Did you know that Video broadcasts of the 2019 session are available to you? Visit the Georgia House of Representatives website for more information about pending legislation, session photos, committee appointments, and several more resources. Keep reading for more details on these measures.

House Bill 25 – Contractual Relief for Service Members  – Committee: Judiciary

House Bill 25, sponsored by Representative Dave Belton (district 112), would build on federal protections given to active duty service members through the Service Members Relief Act by allowing service members to opt out of certain contracts with television and audio programming services, internet access services, and health club services.

The purpose of this is to relieve service members from prior agreements if they are called to serve. In order to qualify, service members must be on active duty or receive orders of deployment to a region where identical services are not offered. For example, if a service member receives orders to Poland, he or she will be able to opt out with Direct TV if it’s services are not offered there.

House Bill 184 – “Streamlining Wireless Facilities and Antennas Act” – Committee: Economic Development and Tourism

House Bill 184, sponsored by Representative Brett Harrell (district 106), serves to provide the necessary framework for the deployment of “small cell” technology throughout Georgia. Small cells are the latest wireless transmitters that will enable the deployment of the next generation of wireless service called 5G.

This improvement will allow telecommunications companies to boost their capacity and service reliability. This is an obvious advancement for improving cell phone service reliability, but it will also enable the deployment of new technologies such as autonomous vehicles.

Senate Bill 25 – Updates on Passing a School Bus – Committee: Public Safety & Homeland Security

Senate Bill 25, sponsored by Representative Ginny Ehrhart (district 36), fixes an error in the code concerning passing a school bus. Under this measure, a driver must stop when a school bus is topped on the opposite side of the highway unless the driver is driving on a divided highway separated by a grass median, unpaved area, or physical barrier.


Thank you for visiting my blog to learn about what your representatives are working on for the state of Georgia. As the General Assembly works to pass more legislation, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions and concerns. Please return to my blog next week for more updates on this year’s session.

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Emaildale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

2019 Legislative Session – Week 4

In week 4 of the 2019 legislative session, the House passed the Amended Fiscal Year 2019 Budget. Passing a balanced Amended Fiscal Year budget has been one of the top priorities for the General Assembly as it guides our state’s spending for the remainder of 2019. A big focus for this amended budget is student well-being with funds allocated for school security grants and mental health services. Below are just a few highlights from the budget.

House Bill 30: Passing the AFY Budget – Highlights 

-$8.4 million in additional funding is allocated for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities to expand the Georgia Apex Program. This program provides support counselors for high school students struggling with mental health issues.

-$10 million is allocated for emergency disaster relief assistance to Georgia farmers who were affected by Hurricane Michael in October. This is in addition to the $55 million appropriated to the Georgia Development Authority to assist farmers as decided during the 2018 special session.

-$1 million is allocated for the Department of Community Health to craft state flexibility options for our state’s Medicaid Program under the federal waiver program.

-$69.4 million is allocated towards providing school security grants of $30,000 each for 2,314 schools including charter schools, college and career academies, GNETS facilities, and the three state schools.

For more information on our state’s budget allocations, visit the Georgia House of Representatives Budget & Research Office webpage. There you can find the final version of the AFY 2019 Budget.

House Resolution 1: Honoring Former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal

House Resolution 1, carried by Speaker David Ralston and Majority Leader Jon Burns, names the forthcoming new state appellate judicial complex the “Nathan Deal Judicial Center.” Considering Gov. Deal’s accomplishments in reforming Georgia’s criminal justice law, it makes perfect sense that the center would bear his name. Deal has saved Georgia taxpayers millions in additional prison spending, reduced the minority prison population, and has created solutions to treat nonviolent offenders who suffer from substance abuse or mental illness. 

Under his leadership, Georgia has consecutively earned the title of “No. 1 State in which to do business.” During his time as Governor, Georgia has seen significant improvements in transportation, education, and success for small business owners. I believe he has set a precedent that our state will frequently refer to, and I look forward to seeing how much more Georgia will grow as a result of his service the betterment of our state.


The 5th week of session is underway. As the General Assembly works to pass more legislation, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions and concerns. Thank you for reading and please return to my blog next week for more updates on this year’s session.

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Email: dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

Youth Leadership Henry – State Government Day at the Capitol

Youth Leadership Henry
Photo credit: Youth Leadership Henry

Youth Leadership Henry is a program sponsored by the Henry County Chamber of Commerce that identifies and develops emerging leaders and gives them an environment in which they learn and grow. These students meet regularly throughout the year to learn about the needs of Henry County from local leaders, professionals, and teachers in their community.

On Tuesday, February 5th, these young leaders visited my colleagues and me at the Capitol building. We had the pleasure of showing students around the Capitol and speaking to them about what we do as lawmakers to meet the needs of our communities. Talking with these students was very encouraging, and they seemed to enjoy getting an up-close look of local government. I enjoyed seeing young people who are interested in being aware of the issues of their community and wanting to do something about it. They are setting a terrific example to their peers and showing them that they don’t have to wait until after school to begin taking the initiative to solve problems.

If you are interested in your student applying for this program in the fall, Visit the Youth Leadership Henry website. Take a look at their Facebook page as well to see some photos of their excursions.

Youth Leadership Henry
Photo Credit: Youth Leadership Henry

The General Assembly is currently working through the 4th week of the 2019 legislative session. As we begin to pass even more pieces of legislation, I encourage you to reach out to me with any opinions or questions you may have.

How to Reach Me:

Help me serve you better by informing me of the needs you see in your community. I encourage you to reach out to me with questions, comments, and concerns about legislation we are working on throughout this session. You are also welcome to visit me at the Capitol.

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Emaildale.rutledge@house.ga.gov

2019 Legislative Session – Week 2

Last week, the House and the Senate met for joint Appropriations Committee hearings on the Amended Fiscal Year 2019 (AFY 2019) and the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY 2020) budget. Here are just a few key appropriations.

AFY 2019 Budget Highlights:

-$1 million will be allocated to the Department of Community Health to craft state flexibility options for Georgia’s Medicaid Program.
-$8.4 million is allocated to expand the APEX program in public schools
-$69 million is allocated for school safety measures. Every Georgia public school will receive $30,000 for security improvements.

FY 2020 Budget Highlights:

-The budget includes a 2% merit increase for all state employees.
-$500,00 will go towards initial funds to create a gang task force within the GBI.
-A $3,000 permanent salary increase is allocated for teachers—the largest teacher pay raise in Georgia’s history.

We are still early in the Budget Process. You can follow along here, and I will continue to update you weekly on how the state’s budget will be spent.

My Committee Assignments

Below you can find the committees I am assigned to this session and learn more about each.

Appropriations – Vice-Chairman of Subcommittee
Judiciary – Member
Motor Vehicles – Member
Regulated Industries – Member
Small Business Development – Member
Transportation – Member
Ways & Means – Secretary

Follow the Legislative Process

There are several ways to stay up to date with what is happening at the Capitol.

Check the status of legislation here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/Search.aspx
Watch live broadcasts of session: http://www.house.ga.gov/mediaServices/en-US/VideoBroadcasts.aspx

Follow the Georgia House of Rep. on Facebook and Twitter.

How to Reach me:

Help me serve you better by informing me on the needs you see in your community. I encourage you to reach out to me with questions, comments, and concerns about legislation we are working on throughout this session:

Capitol Address
601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg.
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404.656.0254 – Office
District Address
P.O. Box 1162
McDonough, GA 30253

Email: dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov


Your representatives are currently working through the third week of session. Each week, you can return to my blog to read updates on what the General Assembly is working on for the state of Georgia. Don’t hesitate to reach out throughout the legislative session with any opinions or questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

2019 Legislative Session – Week 1

Brian Kemp Address

On Monday, January 14th, the General Assembly began this year’s 2019 Legislative Session. Every year, my colleagues and I meet for 40 days to pass bills for the betterment of Georgia. I will update you weekly on what is happening at the Capitol building and what you can expect from your representatives.

Governor Kemp’s State of the State Address & Budget Updates

The House got the opportunity to hear from Governor Brian Kemp on Thursday, January 17th. Gov. Kemp went over some of his budget initiatives including:

-$3,000 pay increase for teachers
-$69 million in school security grants
-$1 million towards the state health department’s budget to expand access to Federal Medicaid waivers

In all, Gov. Kemp estimated $27.5 billion for the 2020 State revenue estimate—$2.3 billion higher than Gov. Deal’s 2019 budget. The governor did recommend to eliminate state support for the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District. At $200,000, it accounts for 18% of the District’s budget. The House does not advise this cut at this point in light of the ongoing Tri-State water litigation. Gov. Kemp rejected a $250,000 request by the Georgia Regional Transporation Authority for additional Xpress operations support and a $10 million request by the State Roads & Tollway Authority for year three of the 10-year operations of the Northwest Corridor and I-75 South.

However, the ATL Authority did receive an additional $2.5 million for operations related to the Authority’s startup. Improvements in transit and transportation will be a focus during this session. House Transporation Chairman Kevin Tanner and Council Board Member Sen. Brandon Beach are leading the charge on advocating for legislation to fund multi-year transportation and infrastructure needs for the expansion and efficiency of metro Atlanta’s transit systems.

I will have much more to relay to you regarding budget allocations as session continues. And, if you weren’t aware, video broadcasts of session are available to you. Visit the Georgia House of Representatives website for more information about pending legislation, session photos, committee appointments, and several more resources.

2019 Senate and House Leadership

Below, I’ve listed out leaders from both chambers. You can click through each of their names to find more information about them.

House:

Speaker of the House – David Ralston
Speaker Pro Tempore – Jan Jones
Majority Leader – Jon Burns
Majority Whip – Trey Kelley
Majority Caucus Chair – Matt Hatchett
Majority Caucus Vice Chair – Micah Gravley

Minority Leader – Robert Trammell
Minority Whip – William Boddie
Minority Caucus Chair – James Beverly
Minority Caucus Vice Chair – Erica Thomas

Governor’s Floor Leaders – Jodi Lott, Terry Rogers, Bert Reeves, & Dominic LaRiccia

Senate:

President Pro Tempore – Butch Miller
Majority Leader – Mike Dugan
Majority Whip – Steve Gooch
Majority Caucus Chair – John Kennedy
Majority Caucus Vice Chair – Larry Walker

Minority Leader – Steve Henson
Minority Whip – Harold Jones
Minority Caucus Chair – Gloria Butler
Minority Caucus Vice Chair – Emanuel Jones

Governor’s Floor Leaders – Blake Tillery & Brian Strickland


Your representatives are currently working through the second week of session. Each week, you can return to my blog to read updates on what the General Assembly is working on for the state of Georgia.

You are always welcome to come and visit me at my capitol office located at 601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg. Atlanta, GA 30334. You can view my committee assignments for the legislative term here. Please feel free to contact me by phone at 404.656.0254, or by email at dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov. Don’t hesitate to reach out throughout the legislative session with any opinions or questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you!

2018 Legislative Session – Special Session Update

On Tuesday, November 13th, Governor Nathan Deal called for a special legislative session to allow for the House and Senate to amend the Fiscal Year 2019 state budget. Our state’s agriculture communities in Southwest Georgia took a serious hit during Hurricane Michael. By the end of this 5-day special session, the General Assembly was able to amend the budget which will provide approx. $270 million in emergency funding for our southwest neighbors.

Continue reading this blog post for more updates from this special session. You can learn more about what goes on at the capitol on the Georgia General Assembly website.

Hurricane Michael – Damages & losses

The following is a snapshot of how much Hurricane Michael affected Southwest Georgia:

-$550 million loss in cotton crop

-$13 million loss in the landscape and green industry

-$480 million loss in high-yielding vegetables: tomatoes, peas, peppers, squash, cucumbers, and sweet corn.

-$560 million loss in the pecan industry

-129 commercial poultry houses loss and over 2 million chickens – a $25 million loss

-$25 million in peanut losses

-$763 million loss in timber

 

The House passed the amended budget which will provide $270 million in areas most impacted by the storm. $69 million of this budget is allocated towards the Governor’s Emergency Fund to cover damages and operating costs. The Department of Human Services will also benefit from this fund so they will be able to provide grants to families in need of housing assistance.

Amended Budget Allocations:

-$55 million to the Georgia Development Authority for farmers to access for agricultural loss relief

-$20 million to the Georgia Development Authority for timberland cleanup efforts

-$25 million for the OneGeorgia Authority to provide for local communities and statewide economic development efforts.

-$15 million towards Regional Economic Business Assistance grants to allow Georgia to pursue economic development opportunities in affected areas

-$69 million to the Georgia Department of Transportation for transportation projects and to offset expenses incurred during the storm

 

HB 4EX – Timber Tax Bill 

In addition to the amended budget, the house passed the Timber Tax Bill which will aid in the nearly 2.4 million acres of timberland lost – a value of $762 million.  Sadly, the effects from the hurricane continue to grow. This bill would allow timberland owners to apply for an income tax credit worth 100% of the timberland lost between Oct. 8 and Dec. 31. This income tax credit has a cap of $200 million overall and $400 per acre damaged.

The 2019 session convenes on January 14, 2019.  I encourage you to reach out to me with your questions, concerns, and thoughts on how we can improve the state of Georgia. You are always welcome to come and visit me at my capitol office located at 601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg. Atlanta, GA 30334. You can view my committee assignments for the legislative term here. Please feel free to contact me by phone at 404.656.0254, or by email at dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov.  I look forward to hearing from you!