2019-02-06 / Editorials

Legislators return for productive week

Under the Gold Dome
Representative Gerald Greene

Returned to the Gold Dome Monday, Jan. 22, we spent more time meeting in committees to consider proposed legislation, including measures recommended by our House Rural Development Council.

Despite the severe weather, the House of Representatives convened as scheduled. With only 40 legislative days to take up our business for the 2019 session, every day is crucial.

By the end of a busy and productive week, a number of bills passed out of their committees, and we completed Legislative Day seven before nearly one million visitors arrived in Atlanta to celebrate Super Bowl LIII.

During the 2017 session, the House made a bipartisan commitment to improve economic opportunities for our state’s rural communities by creating the House Rural Development Council (RDC). Over the past two years, the RDC traveled to rural areas across the state and met with community leaders and policy experts, studied issues unique to our state’s rural communities and explored solutions to improve the economic health in these areas.

At each of these meetings, local leaders repeatedly expressed the need for reliable internet access and broadband in order to facilitate economic growth. By the end of 2018, the RDC released its report that included many legislative recommendations for the 2019 session to address rural Georgia’s needs, including the lack of high-speed internet or broadband access.

This week, the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee held a hearing to consider two bills that came from the RDC’s legislative recommendations, House Bills 22 and 23. HB 22 would amend the Rural Telephone Cooperative Act to allow telephone cooperatives to provide, improve or expand broadband services to rural communities with or without the purchase of a landline.

Similarly, HB 23 would allow electric membership corporations and their affiliates to provide broadband services, while prohibiting EMCs from disconnecting broadband service if a customer fails to pay their electric or gas bills or vice versa. HB 22 and HB 23 passed out of the Economic Development and Tourism Committee and are now in the Rules Committee.

It was “Super Bowl Week” in Atlanta. The City of Atlanta braced itself for the arrival of an estimated one million visitors for the week’s Super Bowl festivities. The expected economic impact the Super Bowl will have on metro Atlanta and the entire state is estimated between $198 million and $400 million. Airports, hotels and local businesses will benefit tremendously from this year’s Super Bowl, and the state as a whole will also benefit from an increase in state and local tax dollars. As this year’s host state, Georgia has a unique and exciting opportunity to showcase all of the great things that our state has to offer.

In the coming weeks, House committees and subcommittees will continue to meet more frequently to review proposed bills that could help make Georgia an even greater place to live and work.

I encourage you to provide me with your input and thoughts on proposed legislation as I serve you and your family here on Capitol Hill. Please visit my Capitol office, which is located at room 131, anytime. You can also reach me by phone at my Capitol office at 404-656-5105 or by email at gerald.greene@house.ga. gov.

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your representative.

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