Left to right: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston at the General Assembly in January 2017. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: Bob Andres/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 What to watch this Georgia legislative session

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. 

A look ahead at the 2018 legislative session with AJC political reporters Mark Niesse and Maya Prabhu. Plus Phrase of the Week with James Salzer. (Video by Bob Andres, edit by Erica A. Hernandez/ AJC STAFF)

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 libertyConfederate monuments and gun controlIt won’t be easy to navigate these contentious issues in an uncertain election year. 

Vexing debates over failing hospitals, rising insurance premiums and an opioid epidemic loom. And after decades of poor planning mass transit is set to get plenty of love at the Gold Dome in 2018.

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. 

About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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