I don’t usually do that immediately at the beginning of the session, since in reality not very much happens for the first while. There is nothing to be voted on until committees have been back at work sending out bills, so floor sessions tend to be very short, often less than an hour. Of course, that will change once more bills begin reaching the floor for a vote.
The first week of session was highlighted by the governor’s state of the state address This year was different in that the governor’s speech was given in the evening so it could be shown live in prime time on Georgia Public Broadcasting. Ordinarily this would have been done during the day.
The second week of session was in recess, as is traditionally done, so the House and Senate Appropriations Committees could begin hearings on the governor’s proposed budget. The real work on the budget doesn’t begin until the respective subcommittees begin meeting; these hearings are more like a quick, general overview. Each agency gets only an hour or so to make its presentation. Obviously, it’s hard to talk about much detail when there is only an hour to hour and a half to discuss the education budget, for example.
Now that we are past those first two weeks and committees have been able to begin their work, a few bills are beginning to reach the floor for a vote. Perhaps the one that generated the most early interest was HB 683 concerning garnishments. Last year the state supreme court ruled that employers, banks and other businesses – particularly corporations – could no longer have an employee or other person who is not a lawyer file the response with the court indicating what property of the defendant was held by the business. The basis of the decision was that the law requires anyone representing another person or entity in court proceedings must be a lawyer. HB 683 creates a very limited exception to this law by allowing a non-lawyer to file the response identifying what property of the defendant – if any – is in the possession of the person or business. This will allow employers, banks and other businesses to avoid having to pay legal fees simply to submit this required response. This bill passed the House and now proceeds to the Senate for its consideration.
Remember that you can read bills and check their current status on the internet by going to www.legis.ga.gov. From that site you can also watch floor sessions and many committee meetings live. Since we are often supposed to be in more than one place at the same time, I sometimes use this myself to check on committee hearings on bills I’m trying to follow, as it can actually be more practical than trying to run back and forth from place to place.
If you are interested in visiting the capitol, either as an individual or as part of a group, please let me know. I can help with arrangements for your visit, and I always make time for home folks. Nothing is more disappointing to me than getting back to the office and finding a note from someone who dropped by but couldn’t find me, but because we run around so much that’s often what happens when I don’t know you’re there. If I know you’re going to be there, I will make it work to meet up with you.
Please let me know of any questions or concerns you may have. During session the best ways to reach me are by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at (404) 656-0265. As always, thank you for the honor of representing you in the Georgia House of Representatives.