Rep. Shaw requesting input from business community
I am seeking input from small business owners in Berrien, Clinch, Lanier and Lowndes counties for a special initiative currently underway by the Georgia House of Representatives to review and evaluate Georgia’s current regulatory environment. This effort, called Red Tape Watch, will be carried out by the Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation throughout the 2012 legislative session.
The committee is meeting periodically to hear directly from small business owners. These hearings will allow small business owners and operators an opportunity to discuss ways the state can streamline the government bureaucracy that impedes their ability to do business efficiently.
The committee would like to hear from as many industries as possible in order to create a comprehensive list of areas in need of regulation reform. Once this list is complied, the committee will begin work on reducing burdensome regulations, easing compliance, and ensuring Georgia small businesses are no longer hindered by outdated and oppressive state regulations.
Small business owners who would like to participate in this process but who cannot attend a hearing can fill out a form to voice their concerns at www.house.ga.gov/redtapewatch or call the committee office at 404-656-7855. The committee’s next meeting will be held Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 2 p.m. in Room 406 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, across the street from the State Capitol.
In legislative business from the past week, I introduced HB 872, my comprehensive bill aimed at stronger enforcement against metal theft crimes, which I reported on in detail last week. The proposal was referred to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee for its consideration. I also co-sponsored HB 685, which would strengthen Georgia’s laws regarding dangerous and vicious dogs, whose attacks on adults and children too often result in serious injury or death. This bipartisan proposal would provide for liability for injuries and damage caused by dogs, provide for court orders for the euthanasia of dogs that have repeatedly attacked people, require registration and safety measures as a condition of owning vicious dogs and spell out criminal offenses and punishment for dangerous dog owners. HB 685 is also under consideration in the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
Also, the state Senate approved an amended version of HB 477, which I sponsored and would require insurance agents to have their state licenses renewed every two years, instead of annually, which is presently required. The bill now comes back to the House for consideration of Senate changes.
Meanwhile, the House Education Committee favorably reported legislation that would allow the state to create charter schools and direct local school districts to provide funding for those schools. HR 1162, a proposed constitutional amendment, addresses a decision Supreme Court of Georgia that declared the Georgia Charter Schools Commission unconstitutional because it approved and gave tax dollars to charter schools over the objection of local school boards. The measure now awaits a vote by the full House, requiring two-thirds approval by both the House and Senate and majority approval by the voters in the next General Election to become law. Concerns over the state usurping control of local school boards’ decision-making authority are expected to be raised when this resolution reaches the House floor for debate.
House members also approved HB 741, the midyear budget plan for the remainder of fiscal year 2012. Adjustments included in the amended $18.6 billion proposal include $85.9 million in additional funding for local school systems to address increased enrollment; $75,000 to pay for state liaisons who would help farmers find laborers using a federal guest worker program that grants visas to people willing to work in the agricultural sector; an increase in funding available to repay the student debt for doctors who commit to working in rural areas; and a restoration of funding for three Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents. HB 741 now goes to the Senate for its consideration, while House budget writers turn their attention to the proposed $19.2 billion annual budget for fiscal year 2013.
Other legislation approved by the House and send to the Senate last week includes HB 475, which would allow local development authorities to issue bond financing for projects that involve private developers; HB 675, which would expand the definition of acceptable nursing school programs to allow experienced military nurses to obtain state licenses; and HB 706, which would repeal nearly 40 obsolete or outdated rules, regulations and funding provisions in state laws related to K-12 public education at the recommendation of a special education finance study committee.
As always, I am at your service. Please contact me with your views and concerns about any of the issues we will be addressing at the State Capitol during this upcoming session.