This January, Geoff Duncan was sworn-in as the first lieutenant governor of Georgia to call Forsyth County home. After a busy session, the Forsyth County News was able to catch up with Duncan to get his thoughts on the legislative session, which wrapped up the first week of April.
As lieutenant governor, Duncan presides over the Georgia state Senate and said he, state Sen. Greg Dolezal and Mike Dudgeon — a Forsyth County resident who previously represented south Forsyth in the state House and now serves as Duncan’s director of policy — all pulled their weight to bring Forsyth County principles to the Gold Dome.
“It just really puts on display the Forsyth County values that we all hold dear to us,” Duncan said. “We just really understand the importance of the next generation. That’s why we spend so much time and energy educating our kids the way we do in Forsyth County. We understand the importance of health care and … growing a local economy and just overall economic development and the importance of getting that right.”
Looking back on the session, Duncan, who previously served as a state Representative for District 26 from 2013 to 2017, said his job has three main roles: the policy side, the relationship side and presiding over the Senate.
“Analyzing those, I feel like I really did a good job, our entire team, for getting to know the Senators, all 56 of them. That was a great process just kind of introducing myself to them,” he said. “From a presiding officer side, I really enjoyed that. I feel like my job description there is just to be the best umpire that you can be and call balls and strikes. I feel like we did a good job on that and really managed the debate on some really, really big issues.”
Duncan said on the policy side he was happy to see the general assembly pass advances in health care, House Bill 481 — or the “Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act,” which outlaws abortions after “the first detection of a human heartbeat in the womb” — and next year’s budget, which the assembly is required to pass. This year’s state budget included a pay raise for teachers.
“We moved forward with a very, very important budget,” Duncan said. “I was excited to see $3,000 pay raises come for all the teachers in Forsyth County, all the public school teachers [in the state] and other folks that were involved in that.”
He said he was also happy to see an idea he and Dudgeon had worked toward pass which is aimed at getting kids involved with technology to be prepared and innovative as more jobs come to the state.
“Over the next three years, every public high school is going to be required to offer a computer science class. Only a half of a percent of kids in Georgia are graduating with a computer science class, and I don’t think that matches where the trajectory of job growth is coming,” Duncan said, later adding, “I think it truly does continue to drive the narrative that I’ve been such a fan of, and that’s I want Georgia to be the technology capital for the East Coast of the country, and no better way to start that than with kids K-12.”
With the session over, Duncan said he is now focusing on job growth and other roles of the lieutenant governor.
“We’re in the process of kind of writing that job description right now,” Duncan said. “Really what it’s going to consist of is a lot of continuing to try to be the business ambassador for the state of Georgia and be utilized in a way that lets me go meet with businesses that are currently here and figure out what we can do better as a state, also to meet with businesses all over the world.”