State lawmakers meet under Gold Dome for first day of 2015 legislative session
A big topic this year is legalizing medical marijuana. Governor Nathan Deal is supportive of the bill, but wants a committee to spend the year coming up with a plan to grow and distribute the cannabis oil in state. Representative Allen Peake says this pushes his plan back six to nine months. But the lawmaker adds there will be immediate immunity for families who got the oil legally in other states to come home without fear of prosecution.
“Until we establish a grow model in Georgia, we will always have obstacles to access here in Georgia and we realize that,” Peake said. “But we believe there are options like shipping from certain providers and possibly a neighboring state can be able to provide access to our families.”
State Senator David Lucas proposed a bill that would abolish Payne City and add it to the Macon-Bibb consolidated government.
“Those property owners out there have the highest tax rate in the consolidated government,” Lucas said. “This would bring that rate down and make everyone the same as other residents.”
Representative James Beverly wants to hear from the Payne City government before moving forward.
“Payne City voted nine to seven against consolidation,” Beverly said. “I need to get some assurances that…the majority of people right now believe it.
Representative Nikki Randall wants lawmakers to change how the state handles law enforcement involved deaths, in light of what happened in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City.
“We want to make sure that the citizens of Georgia feel that when law enforcement is involved that the whole process is still transparent and fair,” Randall said.
Protecting Robins Air Force Base will be a priority. Representative Larry O’Neal says the state is finalizing its encroachment purchases in case of another round of Base Realignment and Closure.
“We’re working hard to make sure we have the adequate resources to negotiating the rest of those so we don’t have an encroachment issue sort of on our horizon when the BRAC people come to Georgia,” O’Neal said.
Transportation will be a big issue. Freshman Senator John Kennedy says finding funds to support transportation needs is important for the state’s success.
“There’s a big connection between transportation in this state and the opportunities and economic development that we have and want to continue to have,” Kennedy said.
All of the representatives and senators, along with Governor Deal, were sworn in Monday.
The governor is expected to lay out his plans for the year during his “State of the State” address on Wednesday. 41NBC will bring you coverage of his speech.