Last week marked the halfway mark of this year’s legislative session in Georgia. Thus, we are starting to take up a lot of bills that are finally on the House floor.

President Calvin Coolidge once said, “It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.” His sentiment echoed the wisdom of our Founding Fathers to make it hard to create new laws. They saw the chaotic democracy of the Greeks (which often devolved into mob rule), and chose, instead, the much steadier approach of the Roman Republic on which to base our Constitution. Thus, it takes a great deal of work and a frustrating amount of compromise to get any legislation done … as it should be.

So far, we haven’t seen a great number of big bills this year. We are taking a hard look at the film tax situation after an audit found that it costs us $870 million a year. Georgia made 319 movies last year alone to a tune of almost $5 billion, and we may add the music industry and video-gaming to the mix. To be sure, Georgia is the envy of many states, who are now offering huge tax incentives of their own to copy our success. But it seems we need to be much stricter with our accounting processes.

I’d like to discuss a few bills I am working on. The first is a fiscal transparency bill for state charter schools. I passed an education fiscal transparency bill a few years ago and hope to do the same for charter schools. Georgia is one of two best states in America in term of school fiscal transparency.

Another bill I am offering would allow teachers who work in high-need subjects to retire and then return to work. Baby Boom era teachers are retiring in record numbers, and the new teacher pipeline is shrinking as the number of children is increasing. The bill is slowly moving through the process and should soon be on the House floor.

I’m also working on two military bills that would allow military spouses in the physical therapy, psychology, audiology, and speech pathology fields to work in Georgia if they have a license in another state. We have passed 34 new laws in the past few years to help our military families.

I’m also working with the University System to partner with our military recruiters. You should be proud that Georgia has the second highest military recruitment numbers of any state. You should also be proud that Georgia State is the No. 1 Military Friendly University in the nation and UGA is No. 2. Other Georgia winners are Kennesaw State, Georgia Southern, Coastal Georgia, University of North Georgia, West Georgia, Southwest Georgia, Ft. Valley State, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Columbus University, Augusta University and Valdosta State University.

The final bill I am working on has garnered more attention than all my others combined. It’s a loan forgiveness plan for teachers who volunteer to teach at low-preforming schools OR in remote rural schools. The idea has been tried in 46 other states with very positive results.

I was proud to stand with Rep. Pam Dickerson this week to honor the late Almond Turner and his beloved wife, Anita, with a Special Invitational Resolution on the floor of the peoplle’s House and in the private office of Gov. Brian Kemp. Assistant chief of police, peace officer for 45 years, school board Member for 20 years, deacon at Springfield Baptist Church, loving father and husband, Almond Turner leaves a legacy of Christian service that will not be forgotten.

I hope you will pray for me as I try to serve the good peoples of Morgan and Newton counties. You may contact me at davebelton112@gmail.com.

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Dave Belton represents District 112 in the Georgia House of Representatives. District 112 includes Morgan County and the eastern portion of Newton County.

Editor

I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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