The 2016 Georgia General Assembly Has Adjourned Sine Die
Speaking on Energy - Morning Order - March 15, 2016
Presenting Amendment to Senate Substitute to HB 1036 - Palmetto Pipeline Bill
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Rep. Parsons appointed to the Joint Study Committee on the Property Tax Digest Impact on Education Funding
Information on the Georgia's Motor Vehicle Title Fee (Courtesy of Senate Pro-Tem David Shafer)
A letter on Education Funding in Georgia
Important Education Funding Information
Rep. Parsons serves as the Chairman of the House Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee
Rep. Parsons appointed to the General Assembly Fiscal Affairs Committee
Speaker Ralston appoints Rep. Parsons to two important NCSL standing committeess
House Speaker appoints Rep. Parsons to two key SLC standing committees
ITEMS OF INTEREST
The Cobb County School District and others are proposing teacher pay raises at less than the 3% that is provided for in the FY 2017 General Budget approved in the 2016 General Assembly
Governor Deal proposed, and the General Assembly approved funding for a 3% pay raise for the teachers of Georgia. The Governor's recommendation did not specify the 3%, but he made it clear that the 3% raise is what he intended, and that he would not look favorably upon districts that did not provide a 3% raise.
I believe the 3% pay raise for teachers should have been specified in the budget document. Despite the fact that it was the Governor's intent and the General Assembly's intent, some school districts are not providing teachers with the full 3% raise.
The following is video clip of the Appropriations Committee meeting in which I asked about the funding
I am very Honored to be named to the National Conference of State Legislators Task Force on Cybersecurity
In establishing this task force, the NCSL Executive Committee Task Force on Cybersecurity recognizes how sensitive information is increasingly stored online, allowing easy and convenient access to anything from bank accounts and medical records, to water and energy systems, and even law enforcement files. Crime has also moved online, presenting significant human and economic cost of data breach and cyber-attack incidents and highlighting the essential need to strengthen the security and resilience of state networks and cyber policies. States can benefit from continually investing in the protection of state networks from cyber-attacks and securing the homeland with strong cyber policies. But in order to do so, states must have reliable, clear, and concise information on cyber threat prevention including best practices and remediation plans.
Legislature to study giving equal rights to crime victims
Proponents plan to reintroduce constitutional amendment known as Marsy’s Law in 2017
Before adjourning the 2016 legislative session, the Georgia House and Senate Judiciary Non-Civil committees formed committees to study Marsy’s Law for Georgia, which would elevate the rights of crime victims to the state constitution.
“With a very short session this year, legislators simply did not have enough time to responsibly craft appropriate language to put before voters,” said House Judiciary Non-Civil Chairman Rich Golick (R-Smyrna). “Crime victims' rights deserves to be studied. Holding committee hearings between the legislatives sessions will give the committee time to consider all the benefits, and any unintended consequences, of a constitutional amendment.”
Rep. Don Parsons (R-Marietta) and Rep. Virgil Fludd (D-Tyrone) introduced the bipartisan measure in the 2016 session, where it was considered by Golick’s committee.
“Marsy's Law provides valuable protection to victims and their families in other states,” said Parsons, who authored the 2010 bill that put victims’ rights in statute. “A constitutional amendment would give victims and their loved ones a chance to speak throughout the criminal justice process. It’s really about victims having a voice. We delivered a big win in 2010 when we put a victims’ bill of rights in state law, but as the head of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council testified in two committee hearings this session, some of those rights have proven unenforceable. Giving victims equal rights will fix that.”
Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee Chairman Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) regrets that his chamber didn’t get the chance to consider Marsy’s Law this session – an issue he seeks to remedy. “I was pleased that a proposal came forward this session to place enforceable rights for victims of crime in our state constitution and was disappointed the Senate did not have the opportunity to work on it,” Stone said. “I have agreed to bring senators together between now and next year’s session to work through the details and bring something back before the General Assembly next year, with the goal of placing an item before voters in 2018.”
In addition to the work legislators will perform on the crime victims’ amendment, the Georgia Marsy’s Law team will continue to reach out to victims throughout the state to build grassroots support from the voters who best understand the need for greater protections.
“Marsy’s Law for Georgia would provide equal rights for crime victims,” said Ann Casas, the Georgia state director for Marsy’s Law. “A constitutional amendment will give crime victims standing and enforceable rights if they fall through the cracks of the criminal justice system. We can all agree that a rapist shouldn’t have stronger rights than his victim or no murderer more rights than the victim’s family. More than 30 states already have victims’ rights in the state constitution, including all of our surrounding states. Georgia’s crime victims deserve no less.”
HB 757 can be read here.
Rep. Don Parsons' questions of the author of the bill upon his presentation of the legislation can be seen at 1 Hour, 12 minutes into PM2 segment of Day 38 archives.
Transcript of Governor Deal's remarks regarding veto of HB 757
Obama Changes Course, Bars Atlantic Drilling
After originally supporting offshore drilling, Obama has rescinded his decision to offer oil and gas leasing off the Atlantic coast. In the announcement made by the Interior Department, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the move was chiefly driven by the widespread concerns of coastal communities, as well as the Pentagon’s reservations about permitting drilling near some of its largest naval installations.
“We heard from many corners that now is not the time to offer oil and gas leasing off the Atlantic coast,” Jewell said. “When you factor in conflicts with national defense, economic activities such as fishing and tourism, and opposition from many local communities, it simply doesn’t make sense to move forward with any lease sales in the coming five years.”
Many along the Southeast coast are concerned of a repeat of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf Coast, and the possible ramifications to the surrounding coastal marine life and communities’ economic stability.
Of course, there has been opposition to this decision as well. Many of those that oppose are oil companies and many Southeastern states’ top leaders. Lawmakers from Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina saw the opening of the Atlantic to offshore drilling as a way to create jobs and to bolster state and federal revenues.
This decision has come at a time when gas prices have been at an all-time low since the Great Recession and will likely be a highly debated topic during the upcoming presidential elections.
Summarized from an article in the Atlantic Journal-Constitution.
Supreme Court Blocks Obama Carbon Emissions Plan
In an unprecedented move, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to put a hold on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) rulings on Obama's Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan was Obama's effort to lower carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by at least 32 percent by 2030 and shift from coal-fired electricity to renewable energy.
The Supreme Court's vote 5-4 means that while other legal rulings against the EPA for possible overreach under the Clean Air Act will put EPA regulations on hold until legaility is determined in the courts. Currently, the EPA has ruled for the Clean Power Plan that "each state must submit a plan to comply with its emission-reduction target by September 2016 but can also request a two-year extension." While this is a big blow to environmentalist, 27 states and coal and oil producers consider this Supreme Court decision to be a win over the power of the EPA.
The Supreme Court has never before made a decision of this kind: it has never before blocked an EPA rule.
Important Questions Regarding Energy and Climate Change
Energy is one of the most important issues that the State of Georgia, as well as our nation, must continually evaluate and address if our economies are to continue to grow, the education needs of our citizens are to be met, our workforce is to be trained and the quality of life for generations to come is to be maintained, and indeed improved.
As the Chairman of the Georgia House of Representatives Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications Committee, I hear and read many conflicting studies regarding the issue of climate change as it relates to energy and the various sources of energy. The earth's climate has changed throughout time. Some theorize that there was a significant change in the climate of Europe that occurred coincidentally after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, which contributed to the disruption of civilization that led to the Dark Ages. So, if one accepts, as I do, that climate change does occur, then the real questions become:
Despite their rhetoric, the current administration and its supporters, including presidential candidate Clinton, do not take energy seriously. Nor do they even take climate issues seriously. Instead, they listen to special interest groups. They take them seriously. For them, these issues are subservient to their larger agenda of more government control, more dependence of citizens on the federal government, a war on coal and all fossil fuels, elimination of automobiles, accelerated urbanization and the erosion of the constitutional rights and responsibilities of states.
I believe in the use of solar power, wind power and other alternative sources of energy. I have passed legislation and advocated for more legislation to incentivize the use of alternative sources of energy. I believe that we all should take steps to keep the air we breathe pollution free. Although we have vast reserves of coal in America, and through technological advances we are now the number one producer of natural gas in the world, we must keep in mind that even these sources are finite. Common sense requires that we use all of these energy sources.
To the question of whether or not mankind contributes to climate change, I believe the answer, to some degree is yes. However, there are scientific studies that show that even if man does contribute to climate change, the effect is minimal. What I am certain of is that an agency of the federal government, in this case the non-elected EPA, should not, and does not have the authority to issue mandates that will take away the livelihoods of thousands of Americans, raise the cost of electricity to the extent that its use may be prohibitive for the elderly and poor, further the agenda of special interest environmental and urbanization groups, create more dependence on the federal government and weaken the economy of our nation.
The EPA, an agency created by Congress to help keep our rivers, streams and air clean, must work for us and not against us. I believe in its original core mission. It is time for the nonsense to end.
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