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Local delegation talks 2018 session

Lawmakers representing Forsyth County at the Georgia General Assembly returned to work this week, and it looks like it’s going to be a busy year. 

On Monday, the second session of the 154th Georgia General Assembly started in the Gold Dome of the Georgia State Capitol. Only a few days in, members of the delegation said they have already been working on this year’s items.

“I’m excited about the current session,” said District 25 state Rep Todd Jones. “It is my second session, so there was a lot to learn from the first session. I believe it being an election year for most of the state offices creates a unique opportunity for us to do material change and material help for the citizens of Georgia and for the citizens of Forsyth County and Fulton County.”

The local delegation is made up of Jones, District 27 state Sen. Michael Williams, District 51 state Sen.  Steve Gooch, District 24 State Rep. Sheri Gilligan, District 26 state Rep. Marc Morris, District 9 State Rep. Kevin Tanner and District 22 state Rep. Wes Cantrell.

House Bill 626 was introduced by Jones last year and could lead to the creation of Sharon Springs, a new municipality in south Forsyth. A committee called for by the bill met over the summer and delivered a recommendation in October to let residents living in the area of the proposed city vote on the matter, which would need to be approved by at least 57.5 percent of those voters. 

“What they said was, ‘if we’re going to change government fundamentally in the county of Forsyth, then what we need to do is make sure there is a mandate,’” Jones said. 

To be voted on by the community, the bill would need to be passed by both houses of the assembly and signed by the governor.

Jones said issues surrounding rural communities, schools and school funding, technological advances, transportation and the state’s struggles with opioids will also come up this year.

Tanner said he is working on several issues this year, including having metro-Atlanta counties meet for traffic solutions.

“We’re taking a look at everything,” Tanner said. “We want to form a regional transit authority that all those counties would be able to have a seat at the table with input, and that group would then be able to create the regional transit plan that helps guide decision making as we go forward.”

Williams — who is serving his final term in office since he is running for governor and state rules do not allow running for both seats — said in a text message on Friday he would be focusing on putting term limits on all statewide constitutional officers, eliminating the required certificate of need — a document needed for expansion of facilities — for healthcare facilities and looking for ways to bring more transparency to government, particularly the budget process.

Gilligan said in a message it would be interesting to watch what legislation gains momentum through the year. 

“I am always most supportive of those issues that promote personal liberty and responsibility, that help shrink the size and scope of government and those policies that treat all Georgia citizens and businesses on an equal playing field,” she said. 

For Morris, the session is his first in office after winning the seat in November to fill the unexpired term of Geoff Duncan, who stepped down to focus on his campaign for lieutenant governor.

Morris said he was especially looking at legislation dealing with sediment impacting in Lake Lanier, which can impact the lake level.

“I’m very excited about this session,” Morris said. ”There are a lot of important issues coming up.”