Georgia lawmakers kick off another legislative session on Monday facing big questions about a state budget that should push a record $26 billion, new mass transit spending, a wave of new healthcare decisions and age-old debates about socially conservative legislation.
Politics will dominate the session. Just about every state office is up for grabs, and a host of lawmakers are competing for governor, lieutenant governor and other top spots. The Senate alone is a hotbed of political activity.
The only thing lawmakers are constitutionally required to do over the 40 days of session is to decide how Georgians will spend the billions of dollars taxpayers funnel to the state treasury each year. And those decisions shape just about every facet of our lives. It’s time for Georgians to tune in.
State lawmakers will confront a range of divisive issues, including the return of tense fights over religious liberty, Confederate monuments and gun control. It won’t be easy to navigate these contentious issues in an uncertain election year.
And one of the biggest mysteries is Deal’s agenda in his final term. He’s said little about his priorities in his last year in public office, though he’s expected to try to burnish his legacy on some of his biggest initiatives in his swan song.
There are about a dozen other hot-button issues, from gambling to medical marijuana, up for debate. And there’s an increased focus on programs and incentives for residents in struggling rural areas. And they’ll be joined by a range of new faces who will join the Gold Dome crowd after last year’s special elections – and a cadre of veteran powerful figures who wield tremendous political might.
Stick with your crew at Politically Georgia throughout the next 40 legislative days – and beyond Sine Die – as we help you navigate the Gold Dome.