Looking Forward: 2017 Legislative Session Priorities

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By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

For your state lawmakers, a new year brings motivation and a fresh perspective on the needs of Georgians. Monday, January 9, 2017 marks the beginning of the first session of the 154th Georgia General Assembly, and your legislators have been preparing for months by researching potential topics and issues. There will be precisely 40 days to present, discuss and vote on legislation to be considered for signing by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2017. There are a number of potential issues that have caught my interest, and I look forward to using my knowledge and experience to make the best decisions for District 51.

Small businesses are the heart of Georgia’s economy. Unfortunately, with the number of regulations, amount of government involvement and the length of time it takes to get a company up and running, small businesses often find themselves struggling. This session, the Senate Majority Caucus is looking to reduce these burdens on private businesses by fast-tracking professional licensing processes, conducting economic impact analysis before implementing new rules and eliminating nuisance taxes and fees that cost more to collect than they generate.

Georgia has been ranked the No. 1 state in the country to do business by Site Selection Magazine four years running. This is due to our favorable tax structure and other incentives luring new businesses to our state. However, raising the number of jobs in our state is only beneficial if we have a proper and educated workforce to fill those positions. By partnering with Georgia’s career and technical programs and in demand industries, we will work to encourage high schools to offer classes where students can gain skills and certifications that will prepare them for employment post-graduation. This will provide students with opportunities for employment and Georgia businesses with a skilled workforce.

With the constant threat of cyber-security and terrorist attacks on our nation and our state, it is imperative that we do everything we can to protect Georgians and the lives we lead. This means we need to ensure our local law enforcement officers have access to and are leveraging the full complement of state and federal resources. This will enable us to utilize the total capability of our state resources and multiply the benefits afforded by the fusion center’s intelligence analysts in supplying our officers with accurate, timely and actionable intelligence to prevent and dismantle would-be terrorist cells from ever gaining a foothold in Georgia.

In 2015, the General Assembly passed the Transportation Funding Act of 2015, House Bill 170. Over the past year, the Georgia Department of Transportation has awarded hundreds of projects that are designed to improve our state’s already existing infrastructure. It is imperative moving forward that we not only work to better our existing roadways but that we look at creating a regional solution that will ease congestion and allow for enhanced navigation of roadways throughout our state.

This year promises to be a session full of legislation designed to improve the lives of all Georgians. I am looking forward to working with my Senate colleagues to draft, vet and vote on legislation that will secure our state’s position as a great place to live, work and play. I am thankful to represent you and Senate District 51 under the Gold Dome for another year.

Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties. He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at steve.gooch@senate.ga.gov.

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