Update from the Gold Dome: Week 7

News

Sen. Steve Gooch

By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R — Dahlonega)

This week, the Senate completed Legislative Days 17 through 21, meaning we are now officially past the halfway point of the 2020 session.

In these 21 days, the Senate has addressed issues across the spectrum of policy areas including healthcare, public safety and foster care reform.

Our state has a lot to be proud of, especially our designation as the number one state in which to do business. However, a large part of fostering a positive business climate is having a strong legal system that promotes fairness and is efficient enough to handle some of the complex litigation that arises from business liability disputes. Currently, Georgia is severely lacking in several aspects of our legal environment that need to be addressed quickly in order to improve our civil justice environment.

Last summer, a Senate Study Committee traveled across the state to hear from stakeholders in the business and legal communities on some of the major areas of litigation that need to be improved in Georgia. This committee ultimately supplied a list of recommendations, which were taken into account in Senate Bill 415, which I sponsored. SB 415 received an extensive hearing in an Insurance and Labor subcommittee and addresses a variety of issues that would allow our judicial process to operate more efficiently and even the playing field for both mom and pop shops on main street, as well as larger corporations.

I am hopeful that this bill will move quickly through the legislative process so we can begin to make the incremental changes necessary to improve Georgia’s civil justice climate. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the senate to perfect this bill and get Georgia back on the right track.

In keeping with the theme of making Georgia’s business climate as strong as it can be, the Senate passed a bill that would allow the legislature to determine the economic viability of certain tax credit programs. While tax credits are undoubtedly an asset in attracting businesses to locate to or expand in Georgia, we also need to ensure that we are receiving a beneficial return on investment.

Senate Bill 302 would allow the Chairmen of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee to each request five economic analyses of tax credits each year. These analyses must include, among other things, the net change in state revenue associated with the credit. Having this data available will not only allow us to determine which current tax credits are more beneficial than others, but will also inform how tax credits are implemented in the future.

Healthcare was another issue that was addressed this week and the Senate made meaningful process in addressing an issue that has affected many patients across the state. “Surprise billing” has been an area the legislature has been trying to fight for years and this week we passed a bill that attempts to resolve many of the issues faced by consumers.

Senate Bill 359 would take the patient out of the middle of a price dispute when they unexpectedly receive out-of-network care and outlines an arbitration and negotiation process to allow insurance companies and healthcare providers to work these discrepancies out themselves. This will allow the consumer to focus on getting better and grant them more peace of mind when undergoing a medical procedure.

Since we are now past the official halfway point of the session, our next important deadline will be Crossover Day, which will fall on March 12. While that may sound far off, at the pace the Senate has been moving it will be here before we know it. There is still a lot of work to accomplish in the time we have remaining, such as the budget, but I am never too busy to hear from you. If you ever have any questions or concerns, I encourage you to reach out to my office.

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

Senate E-Scooter study committee meets Monday

News

PRESS RELEASE

ATLANTA – The first meeting of the Senate Evaluating E-Scooters and Other Innovative Mobility Options for Georgians Study Committee will be held on Monday. at 10 a.m. at the Georgia World Congress Center in the Authority Boardroom.

Sen. Steve Gooch (R –Dahlonega) will serve as chair of the Senate Evaluating E-Scooters and Other Innovative Mobility Options for Georgians Study Committee which was created by the passage of Senate Resolution 479 during the 2019 Legislative Session. Five members serve on the study committee and will evaluate how local governments, state agencies and universities are utilizing E-scooters and other innovative mobility technology. The committee must report its findings on or before December 1.

The tentative agenda is located here: http://www.senate.ga.gov/committees/Documents/E-Scooter9-23.pdf

WHO:   Sen. Steve Gooch and Members of the Senate Evaluating E-Scooters and Other Innovative Mobility Options for Georgians Study Committee

WHAT:  First Study Committee Meeting

WHEN:  Monday, September 23, 2019 10 a.m.

WHERE:          Georgia World Congress Center-Authority Boardroom 285 Andrew Young International Blvd NW  Atlanta, GA 30313

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

Gov. Kemp visits UNG Friday for signing ceremony

News

DAHLONEGA, Ga. — Gov. Brian Kemp received a warm welcome in Lumpkin County Friday when he arrived for a bill signing ceremony in the Library Technology Center on the campus of the University of North Georgia.

State Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), who sponsored four of the five bills the governor signed, welcomed the governor to his hometown and introduced him to those in attendance.

“Today is a big day for us,” he said. “We’ve been working a lot on some issues dealing with broadband and internet services.”

With a large number of state legislators who helped usher the bills through to passage on hand, along with many county and municipal elected officials, Kemp signed Senate Bills 2, 17, 66, 79 and 454.

Senate Bills 2,17,66 and 79 deal with the expansion of access to broadband internet service and were sponsored by Gooch. SB 454 was carried to the senate by Gooch and deals with electronic assisted bicycles.

Senate Bill 2 allows Georgia’s 41 EMCs which represent about 4.5 million rural customers to get into the broadband business and sell internet services.

An important question that has yet to be answered is how many EMCs will participate.

“I’ll stand here today and be the first one to confess, I don’t know that all 41 will ever get into internet services,” Gooch said, “But I believe this will allow them the opportunity to do so.”

Wednesday, April 24 marked the governor’s 100th day in office and he reflected of some of his administration’s early accomplishments.

“Over and over again, I promised to keep families safe, to put hard working Georgians first and I think that is exactly what we have done with these pieces of legislation today and with these great legislators’ help who are here today.”

Kemp said the 2019 and 2020 budgets are “reflection of the values of our state and our priorities for the future. We have fully funded public 0education for the second year in a row. We have given teachers, counselors and others a historic pay raise this year. We’ve invested $70 million in school security grants, $30,000 for every public school in the K through 12 system. We also doubled funding for mental health services in our high schools.”

The governor also pointed to state investments in public safety. “We created a task force within the GBI to undermine drug cartels, gangs and human and sex trafficking.”

Kemp thanked legislators for “stepping up to the plate” and adding $20 million to the budget for hurricane relief for farmers in south and southwest Georgia “while we wait on those in Washington D.C. to do their part to put people ahead of politics and pass the daggum disaster relief bill.”

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will the General Assembly reverse the 2018 GDOT carve-out on E-Verify for contractor bids?

Politics, State & National

Written by D.A. King

**note this article ran in Insider Advantage.

In last year’s legislative session Republican state Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) introduced legislation that gutted the process intended to ensure that the Georgia Department of Transportation hires contractors that are using a legal workforce. In the haste and bedlam of 2018’s Sine Die, Senate Bill 445 sailed through both the House and Senate.

It is notable that SB 445 went through the Senate Transportation Committee, as Senators Brandon Beach, Butch Miller, Frank Ginn and Mike Dugan were bill signers, in that order. All are transportation committee members — with Beach as chairman.

On SB 445, Chairman Beach made it clear in his committee that “it’s a DOT bill” (professional transcription here. – two-minute archived committee video here).

Now that the cat is out of the bag on this caper- and we have a new governor — one “important issue” for the 2019 session should be to see if lawmakers will reinstate the bidding system for GDOT that all other public employers and their contractors are still supposed to follow.

We recognize many readers will view this as a dry topic – the only folks who may have a concern are those who don’t want their taxes used to pay illegal aliens on GDOT projects.

After mandates were put into place in the Georgia Security and Immigration Compliance Act of 2006 (SB 529) to require all public employers and contractors to use E-Verify, adjustments were made in HB2 of 2009 to deal with the obvious problem that some public contractors were bidding on – and winning – contracts with bids that were based on the cost of black market labor before they swore on an affidavit that they were using E-Verify. This allowed contractors to hire a crew for a job that could not be verified as eligible to work using the E-Verify system, which can only be used for newly hired employees after receiving authorization from the feds to use the online system.

The 2009 solution to this chicanery was to change the law so that bids are not considered unless and until the E-Verify affidavit is presented.

In his quick presentation of the measure, Sen. Gooch told the committee the changes to the GDOT bid rules were being proposed to make life easier for contractors.

“Section 3… makes clear that the deadline for a bidder to supply their signed notarized e-verify affidavit is prior to contract award as opposed to the bid submission. This has caused a problem with some of the contractors that submitted their e-verify affidavits but they didn’t reach to the department either by mail or by other means of delivery in time for the bid, um, deadlines and therefore they were disqualified from bidding on the work. Now essentially requires ’em to submit those E-Verifies prior to the contracts being awarded” said Gooch (emphasis mine).

It is hard to accept that this is a constructive or plausible reason to make changes to the GDOT bidding system, as the existing law is clear that bids and E-Verify affidavits may be submitted electronically. If a contract bidder is indeed an E-Verify user, he can easily send that documentation along with his bid from his computer.

This writer asked GDOT for comment on this curious scenario.  One of the questions asked for verification that SB 445 was in fact a GDOT bill, as Chairman Beach told the committee. That question went unanswered.

This is not the first adventure in state law on E-Verify, bids, and contractors for GDOT.

CBS Atlanta 46 TV News did a series of stories on GDOT’s violations of the bidding/E-Verify law in 2010 that illustrated the lack of concern for the hard-fought mandate designed to make Georgia unwelcoming to illegal employers and illegal labor – and to safeguard taxpayer dollars. We have archived some of those reports:

* “Activist: GDOT Is Breaking State’s Immigration Law – Violation May Make It Easier For Contractors To Hire Illegal Immigrants. Here.

* “CBS Atlanta Asks If GDOT Contractor Is Hiring Illegal Workers.” CBS Atlanta 46 news video here.

* “GDOT Didn’t Know About The Illegal Immigrant Labor Law.” Here.

* “Federal Document Shows GDOT Contractor Lied On Affidavit
Company Swore To Check Employee’s Legal Status in Federal Database.” Here.

* “GDOT: Worker May Have Been Illegal. The Georgia Department of Transportation said Wednesday that one of its subcontractors may have been in the country illegally. The admission came after a CBS Atlanta investigation…” (No link)

* “GDOT Admits Mistake For Breaking Immigration Law: GDOT Commissioner Dodges Tough Questions About Hiring Illegal Worker.” Here.

IAG will follow up on this later in the legislative session, there is more.

You read it here first.

D.A. King is president of the Dustin Inman Society and proprietor of ImmigrationPoliticsGA.com. He has worked on the law featured above since 2006.

Senator Steve Gooch Honors City of Dahlonega

State & National

ATLANTA (January 29, 2018) | Senator Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega) is pleased to announce Monday, January 29, 2018, as Dahlonega Day at the state Capitol with Senate Resolution 590.

“Dahlonega is the gateway to North Georgia and I am grateful to be able to share my home with the rest of my colleagues,” said Sen. Gooch. “This year marks the 60th anniversary of Dahlonega and Lumpkin County citizens delivering gold, by wagon, for the installation of the state Capitol building’s gold dome. I could not be more proud to have representatives from our local community here today to celebrate this honor.”

The City of Dahlonega is a small city in northern Georgia founded in 1832. Dahlonega was the site of the first major U.S. gold rush and now is commonly referred to as the ‘Gold City’. The city sits at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is surrounded by many natural elements. Dahlonega is the county seat of Lumpkin County. In addition to its history of gold mining, the city of Dahlonega is also known as the Heart of Georgia Wine Country, with six wineries and nine winery tasting rooms.

 

Broadband Study Committee Meets in Toccoa

News

TOCCOA, Ga. – A study committee headed by State Senators John Wilkinson (R-Cornelia), Don Parsons (R-Marietta) and Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) will examine the conditions, needs, issues and problems of high-speed broadband internet access critical to the economic development of Georgia’s communities Thursday.

Public participation is encouraged at the meeting scheduled for 1 p.m. at North Georgia Technical College Currahee Campus in Toccoa

“Community involvement in meetings like this one is extremely important because it opens conversation about what changes are necessary in the state of Georgia,” Wilkinson said. “I encourage anyone who is interested in providing comments, concerns or ideas to attend the meeting and participate.”

The Joint High-Speed Broadband Communications Access for All Georgians Study Committee, created by the passage of Senate Resolution 876, is responsible for submitting a report of findings and recommendations, including proposed legislation, by December.

Advanced Voting Slow in White Co. Where Turnout is Less Than 5 Percent

News, Politics

CLEVELAND, Ga. — Advanced voter turnout is slow in White County but Chief Voter Registrar Lisa Manning says it is way ahead of where it was in 2012. But that’s only because there were no contested races in the 2012 General Primary. This year, there are three local races, including sheriff, county commission and school board.

As of 10 a.m. Friday, Chief Voter Registrar Lisa Manning said only 540 ballots had been cast or less than 5 percent of White County’s 13,415 active registered voters.

“The Sheriff’s race is the most heated race,” Manning said. “It’s the one that seems to be drawing the most interest.” Veteran Sheriff Neal Walden is being challenged by Aaron Autry

In the District 4 County Commission race, incumbent Craig Bryant will face Shawn Henderson. In the Board of Education race, incumbent Kendyl Brock Hunter is being challenged by Missy Jarrard.

There is also an election for Ninth District Congress where incumbent Doug Collins of Gainesville has angered many conservatives when he voted for President Barack Obama’s Omnibus bill and supported John Boehner for Speaker of the House. As a result, he has drawn four challengers in former 10th District Congressman Paul Broun, Lanier Tea Part Patriots founder Mike Scupin, White County educator Roger Fitzpatrick and retired Army and National Guard Brigadier General Bernie Fontaine.

The lone state race on the ballot is for State Senate where incumbent Steve Gooch,who many consider an “establishment Republican,” is being challenged for re-election in the 51st District by John Williamson, co-founder of the Gilmer County Tea Party.

Advanced voting takes place at the Mauney Building, 1241 Helen Highway between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Saturday voting will take place tomorrow.

Candidate for GA 51st District John Williamson points out Tax Increases since 2010

Featured, Featured Stories, Politics

JWAd800

Fannin County Chamber of Commerce Primary Candidate Forum, Magistrate Judge, School Board, Tax Commissioner, GA House of Rep District 7, GA Senate Dist 51, Fannin Commission Chairman and Sheriff

Politics

Scroll down to watch video of the forum.

Fannin County Chamber of Commerce 2016 Primary Candidate Forum.

Cynthia Panter, Chairman Fannin County Chamber Board.

Rob Kaser, Co-Moderator

Fannin County Magistrate Judge

Sherri Walker (I) NP

Dannette Davis  NP

Brian D. Jones  NP

Fannin County School Board

Jeremy Davis  R

Clarence Junior Farmer  R

Chad Galloway   R

Fannin County Tax Commissioner

Shirley Sosebee (I) R

Marie Woody R

Georgia House of Representatives District 7

Speaker David Ralston (I) R

Sam Snider  R

Georgia Senate District 51

Senator Steve Gooch (I) R

Fannin County Commission Chairman

Bill Simonds (I) R

Stan Helton  R

Fannin County Sheriff

Dane Kirby (I) R

Larry Bennett Sr.  R

Johnny Scearce  R

Jack Taylor  R

Rusty Whittenbarger  D

BKP Interview with 51st. District State Senator Steve Gooch

Business

Georgia State Senator Steve Gooch stopped by Good Morning from the Office. Senator Gooch and BKP talk about the 2016 Georgia legislative session.

Back to Top

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!