On Jan. 15, 2019, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, the first Forsyth County resident to be elected to the office, presided over his first meeting of the Georgia State Senate after being elected the previous November.
With a year under his belt, Duncan said he’s excited for what should be a busy session of the Georgia General Assembly starting on Monday.
“It’s hard to believe it’s already been 12 months since we got sworn-in, but definitely looking forward to session No. 2 and getting back to work,” Duncan said on Friday. “Certainly, with a year of experience, session is without a shadow of a doubt my favorite time of the year. It’s really like game time for me to be able to walk into the room with 56 Senators every day and manage the process as president of the Senate, so definitely looking forward to kicking off on Monday.”
Going into his second session leading the Senate, Duncan – who formerly represented District 26 in the state House of Representatives – said he planned to continue building relationships with Senators and to “continue the momentum” from last year’s session.
“The weight on our shoulders is we work for 11 million Georgians, and our job is to get it right,” Duncan said. “Our job is to make sure that we are intellectually honest with everybody in and around this process.”
Heading into the session, Duncan said his office has three main projects they want to undertake this year: health care, addressing issues in the foster care system and making Georgia the technology capital of the East Coast.
For health care, Duncan said he wanted to address price transparency and customers’ right to shop among different providers, saying “we want to empower the consumer to make good health care decisions based on quality and price.”
Duncan said the reason for tackling issues in the state’s foster care system was “an opportunity for us to take care of those who need us the most.”
“We’re going to not only explore ways to deliver health care and mental service to those foster kids and the families that take care of them, but we’re also going to look at what happens to kids when they age out of the system,” Duncan said. “I’ve been shown some of the most gut-wrenching data about what happens to the 18-year-old kids who the day they turn 18 in the foster care system, they’re simply given a pat on the back and pushed out the door and have to go fend for themselves on everything.”
Making Georgia the technology capital of the East Coast has been a big goal for Duncan since his election, and the lieutenant governor said the state needed to look at options to grow the industry in the state through workforce development, bringing in the “best and brightest around the world” and inviting investors into the state.
Duncan said Forsyth County, particularly the school system and local industries, was already on track for that goal.
“Forsyth County has already got an early run on this,” he said. “So many businesses are technology-centered, and we understand the value of it. Our schools are doing an incredibly good job of educating the kids, and it’s really where I got the notion of being the technology capital of the East Coast is really how we do things so well on the north side of Atlanta.”
Several big items are expected to be debated by the legislature this year, including potential cuts to the state budget, for which Duncan said he applauded Gov. Brian Kemp’s fiscal responsibility, and said the push to legalize gaming in the state was likely to come back.
“We’re going to have to see what the will of the legislature is,” Duncan said. “It seems like there is an overwhelming number of people that want the Georgia voters to have a crack at it.”
Asked if there were any less well-known items that could be coming up in the session, Duncan said the slate was a moving target, but there were a few items he could see coming up.
“Health care is a huge area for us to continue to ideate around: ways to improve telehealth, ways to improve surprise billing. I think those are big areas of opportunity,” he said. “We’ll see how the session plays out.
“I’ve been doing this as a House rep for a few years, now as lieutenant governor, it is definitely a moving target.”