The following is an opinion piece from Senator William Ligon, sent by the Georgia Senate Press Office. It does not reflect the views of AllOnGeorgia.
This week, the Senate convened the 155th Georgia General Assembly. We welcomed five new members to the Senate. We attended the inauguration of our 83rd Governor, Brian P. Kemp, and the 12th Lt. Governor, Geoff Duncan, who is only the second Republican to hold that office. We were sworn into office by my friend, former Senate colleague and new Supreme Court Justice Charlie Bethel. Additionally, Senate leadership named chairmen and committee membership. I have been reappointed as Chairman of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and will continue serving on all my former committees. I look forward to serving the people of Georgia again in my roles on the following committees: Judiciary, Appropriations, Health and Human Services, Ethics, and Reapportionment and Redistricting.
Perhaps the most important event of the week was Governor Kemp’s first “State of the State” address. He highlighted some of his legislative priorities including: $69 million of grant funding to increase security measures in our public schools, $3000 salary increases for teachers (a $480 million increase in the state budget), a gang taskforce, broadband expansion in rural Georgia, increased access to healthcare, and improvements to our voting systems. I was especially pleased to hear of Gov. Kemp’s determination to once again lower taxes in Georgia. And while all of these initiatives are worthy priorities, I will be interested to see how we can balance new spending with the suggested tax cuts. I look forward to seeing the Governor’s full plan at the budget hearings next week.
I believe that this session, under new leadership in the Executive Branch and a new Senate President, we can accomplish things we haven’t been able to in the past. Religious freedom, school safety, and improving rural health care are all subjects I look forward to fighting for, and I believe that Gov. Kemp’s conservative approach on these topics will move us in the best direction for our state. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is one issue Gov. Kemp has already spoken out in favor of, and I look forward to the day when legislation is signed that will ensure that our courts protect our religious liberty as the Constitution of this land originally intended. We can make our schools safer without compromising our constitutional right to bear arms, and I know that this, too, is something Gov. Kemp and I can agree on. We can maintain our state’s promise to pass a balanced budget and remain fiscally responsible without expanding Medicaid, while still implementing solutions to help our underinsured citizens.
Our Session schedule has been determined through Friday, February 8th. We will not be in official session next week due to budget hearings. We will be formally back in session on Monday, January 28th, starting at 10:00 a.m. You can visit my website at senatorligon.com for more information on the calendar.
I look forward to representing you to the best of my ability for the next two years and ask that you please contact my office if there is anything I can do to be of assistance. Lastly, please join me in praying for a productive session full of monumental changes in our great state. As always, it is an honor to serve you under the gold dome.
Sen. William Ligon serves as Chairman of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. He represents the 3rd Senate District which includes Brantley, Camden, Glynn, and McIntosh counties and portions of Charlton County. He can be reached by phone at 404.463.1383 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.