A number of legislative initiatives in the recently completed session of the state’s General Assembly bore the stamp of local participants in the lawmaking process, with the end results benefitting both the county and the state.
Sen. Jack Murphy successfully championed legislation to create a badly needed new judgeship for the Bell-Forsyth judicial circuit. As a result, the county will add a third superior court judge to work with existing Judges Jeffrey Bagley and David Dickinson.
The addition is long overdue. An unfortunate reality of life in a county that experiences phenomenal growth is that the demand for courtroom time outpaces the ability of existing judges to handle cases. As a result, cases become backlogged and justice sometimes slows to a crawl.
Having an additional judge on the bench will help to speed things up in the local court system. In truth, local legislators probably need to start thinking now about when and how to address the need for a fourth judge in the not-to-distant future.
In other legislative action, Rep. Mark Hamilton was successful in shepherding to approval a couple of initiatives related to the state’s election process. Improving the election process has been an ongoing goal of Hamilton, who has worked on various pieces of legislation to address voter registration rules, the qualifying process and the overall voting experience.
Rep. Mike Dudgeon meanwhile was successful in working to take laws off the books rather than putting new ones on. A former school board member, Dudgeon was a major player in legislation that will eliminate, update and repeal more than two dozen old and outdated rules and regulations related to public education in Georgia. Addition by subtraction is a concept we wish more Georgia lawmakers would adopt.
A couple of others in the county who are not legislators were active in some solid pieces of lawmaking. County attorney Ken Jarrard was among those who worked on a revamping of the state’s Sunshine laws that was introduced by Rep. Jay Powell of Camilla and pushed by Attorney General Sam Olens, and Probate Judge Woody Jordan worked to get legislation passed to allow judges to run nationwide background checks on those seeking to become guardians or conservators.
Good work by all, with positive end results.