Legislataive Success! 3/10/14 to 3/13/14

Legislative Success!

State Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula)

March 10, 2014 to March 13, 2014 (Legislative Days 35 through 38)

 

This has been a very busy week as several of my bills passed both houses of the General Assembly and are now off to be considered by Governor Deal!

 

Home Invasion

On Monday, the State Senate considered HB 770, my bill to create a new criminal offense of Home Invasion.  Senator Hunter Hill presented the bill on the floor and it received bipartisan support, passing 44-6.  Because certain changes were made to the bill, it returned to the House of Representatives.  On Wednesday, the House agreed to the changes, passing HB 770 by a vote of 149-3.  This bill will now be considered by Governor Deal. 

 

Nonpartisan Judges

On Thursday, House Bills 938 and 939 were passed by the State Senate.  Having previously been passed by the House, these bills will now be considered by Governor Deal.  This legislation will make the offices of Chief Magistrate Judge and Probate Court Judge nonpartisan in Gwinnett County. 

 

Aaron Murray Visits      

Members of the House were very excited to meet UGA quarterback Aaron Murray when he visited Wednesday.  Go Dawgs!

Legislative Update: 3/3/14 to 3/7/14

Legislative Update

State Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula)

March 3, 2014 to March 7, 2014 (Legislative Days 30 through 34)

 

“Crossover Day”

Monday was the 30th day of the 2014 legislative session.  Known as “Crossover Day,” this critical point in the session is the last chance for bills to pass the legislative chamber from which they originated.  After Crossover Day, all legislation passed by the House must “cross over” to the Senate, and vice versa.  Any bill that has not been passed by either the House or Senate by the end of this day will have little chance of becoming law this year.  As such, the House of Representatives remained in session late into the evening on Monday. 

 

State Capitol Monuments

On “Crossover Day”, the House of Representatives voted on legislation that would create new monuments at the State Capitol.  House Bill 702 would place a monument of the 10 Commandments, U.S. Constitution, and Georgia Constitution at the State Capitol to celebrate the ideals and values that these documents represent.  Similarly, House Bill 1080 would place a monument of Martin Luther King Jr. at the State Capitol in honor of his significant role in the history of Georgia and America. Many Georgians come to the State Capitol to tour and learn about the history of our state, and these two monuments will be great additions to our Capitol grounds.

 

FY 2015 Budget

This week, the Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2015 budget.  The full fiscal year budget uses a projected state revenue estimate to guide state spending for the following fiscal year. The Senate passed a slightly different version of House Bill 744 than we previously passed in the House, and it will now move to a House and Senate Conference Committee to work out a final budget for consideration by both the House and Senate. 

 

HB 770- Home Invasion Bill

On Wednesday, I testified before the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee concerning my bill to make Home Invasion a felony.  After explaining the bill and answering questions, HB 770 was favorably reported out of the committee.  HB 770 is expected to be considered by the full Senate on Monday. 

 

Constituent Assistance

I have already found that a great deal of my time is spent assisting constituents with casework projects.  I greatly enjoy assisting constituents when they have an issue with a state agency.  Please contact me any time if I might assist you. 

 

It is a true honor to represent the citizens of House District 104 in the State House of Representatives.  If I may ever assist you with an issue, or if you have input for proposed legislation, please contact me by email at chuckefstration@gmail.com. 

Legislative Update- Pre-Crossover Day Summary

Legislative Update

State Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula)

March 3, 2014 (Pre-Crossover Day Summary)

 

Today is Day 30 of the General Assembly’s 2014 Legislative Session.  Day 30 is known as “crossover day” because bills must be passed by one of the two legislative bodies on or before Day 30 in order to be enacted.  I am attempting to provide you with an overview of a few bills that I have carried this session.

HB 770- Home Invasion

Drawing on my experience in law enforcement as a former Gwinnett County Assistant District Attorney, I authored and introduced House Bill 770.  This bill creates a new criminal offense of Home Invasion, providing harsh sentences to criminals that break into occupied homes in order to commit violent offenses.  To the surprise of many, the Georgia burglary statute does not distinguish between offenders that enter occupied or unoccupied homes.  This bill fixes that issue and focuses on offenders intending to commit an act of violence.  HB 770 was passed by the Georgia House of Representatives on February 20, 2014. 

HB 938 & 939- Nonpartisan Judges

This session, I introduced bills to make the offices of Chief Magistrate Judge and Probate Court Judge nonpartisan.  I firmly believe in the need for a non-partisan, independent judiciary that is accountable to the voters.  Local judges should decide issues based upon the law and justice.  These bills allow Gwinnett to join the ever-growing number of Georgia counties with nonpartisan judgeships.  This legislation received bipartisan support and the endorsement of Common Cause Georgia, a government ethics advocacy organization.  HB 938 and 939 passed the Georgia House of Representatives on Tuesday, February 25. 

Dacula Day 2014

On February 18, I hosted “Dacula Day 2014” at the State Capitol.  This was an opportunity for residents of House District 104 to meet with state leaders and learn more about the issues under debate at the Capitol.  There was a great turnout and response to the event!  Thank you to all who attended.    

Constituent Assistance

I have already found that a great deal of my time is spent assisting constituents with casework projects.  I greatly enjoy assisting constituents when they have an issue with a state agency.  Please contact me any time if I might assist you. 

 

It is a true honor to represent the citizens of House District 104 in the State House of Representatives.  If I may ever assist you with an issue, or if you have input for proposed legislation, please contact me by email at chuckefstration@gmail.com. 

Privacy and the Peach Pass

On Wednesday, I introduced HB 1098.  This bill would prevent the state from issuing non-toll traffic citations based upon information obtained through the operation of toll lanes (the “Peach Pass” lane). 

This issue was brought to my attention by a constituent, cited by the state for a traffic violation of crossing the solid white lines that divide the HOT Lane on Interstate 85.  The alleged violation was not observed by an officer.  Rather, this constituent was identified using the information voluntarily given to obtain a Peach Pass and legally use the toll lane.

Although I was not a member of the General Assembly when the Peach Pass was implemented, I feel certain that the legislative intent did not include the identification and citation of citizens for traffic violations by using information collected to enforce the toll.

In a time of ever-improving technology and reduced personal privacy, I believe that the collection of personal information by the government should be strictly limited in scope and use.  Although we are already well into the 2014 legislative session, I will do what I can to support and promote this bill.  

Legislative Update: 2/3/14 - 2/7/14

Legislative Update

State Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula)

February 3, 2014 to February 7, 2014 (Legislative Days 15 through 19)

 

State of the Judiciary Address

This week, Georgia Supreme Court Justice Hugh Thompson addressed a joint-assembly of the State House and Senate for the annual State of the Judiciary address.  In his speech, Justice Thompson addressed the General Assembly’s work to pass Governor Deal’s criminal justice reform proposals.  Such measures have already provided substantial cost-savings to the state by increasing the number of accountability courts and modifying statutory sentences for certain criminal offenses. 

Committee Hearings

This week, I attended and addressed several committee hearings.  On Wednesday at 8:00 a.m., I attended the House Insurance Committee meeting to review several proposals pending before the General Assembly.  On Thursday at 8:30 a.m., I served on the Juvenile Justice subcommittee examining adequate representation by the State and the defense in matters of juvenile delinquency.  Additionally, I presented by bill, HB 770, to the full committee of Judiciary Non-Civil on Wednesday. 

HB 770

Unfortunately, we are all too familiar with media headlines about violent home invasions in metro Atlanta and all of Georgia.  Residents of House District 104 and Gwinnett County know of these crimes where armed perpetrators enter occupied homes to commit violent offenses.  To the surprise of many, existing burglary law provides the same sentences to offenders regardless of whether the home is occupied.  In an effort to isolate the most serious of offenses and close a known loophole in the burglary statute, I introduced HB 770 to create a new offense of Home Invasion.  This measure is supported by the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council and the Atlanta Police Department, and the bill was favorably reported from subcommittee.  Although representatives from the criminal defense bar did not attend the subcommittee hearing for the bill, I was happy to discuss it with them and address their concerns.  Consistent with the Governor’s criminal justice reforms, I believe this bill will allow for fair sentences in cases of property crime while deterring and punishing those that put lives at risk in dangerous home invasions.  This session, I will continue to work to keep citizens safe and protect the rights of the individual to live free of the threat of harm while in his or her home. 

HB 938 and HB 939

I am a firm believer in the importance of an independent judiciary to adhere to the US and Georgia Constitutions and protect the rights of the individual.  In this spirit, I introduced two bills this week to make the offices of Chief Magistrate and Probate Judge nonpartisan offices in Gwinnett.  These bills follow a growing movement of Georgia counties working toward an independent judiciary that is fair and responsible to the voters.  Further, citizens would be able to cast votes for local judges on one ballot, ensuring across-the-board judicial accountability.  I appreciate the bipartisan support that these bills have received so far, and I look forward to working for passage of this important legislation. 

 

 

It is a true honor to represent the citizens of House District 104 in the State House of Representatives.  If I may ever assist you with an issue, or if you have input for proposed legislation, please contact me by email at chuckefstration@gmail.com.

Legislative Update: 1/27/14 to 1/31/14

Legislative Update

State Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula)

January 27, 2014 to January 31, 2014 (Legislative Days 10 through 14)

 

National Guard Day at the Capitol

                On Monday, the General Assembly honored members of the Georgia National Guard with recognition of General Jim Butterworth and the National Guard leadership.  The House also heard a live presentation, via Skype, from Georgia Guard troops serving in Afghanistan.  As a member of the Defense & Veterans Affairs committee, this was an exciting opportunity to hear from the heroes that put their lives on the line daily to keep us safe.    

Impact of Winter Weather

As we are all aware, the impact of the winter snowstorm Tuesday had a bearing on the remainder of the legislative week.  This disaster put the challenges of addressing our transportation issues at the forefront of our minds and presented many examples of Georgian Good Samaritans that stood ready to assist fellow citizens.  True leaders stepped forward to assist complete strangers by helping stranded motorists, providing water and food to those in need, and opening homes and businesses to weary travelers. 

Now, the important task of examining state policies and procedures is underway to ensure that Atlanta and Georgia, a major center of international commerce, is not left in such a vulnerable position in the future.  Considering preparation and emergency procedures is what voters expect from the General Assembly, and I look forward to providing input in this regard. 

Consideration of Critical Legislation

The State House considered several pieces of legislation this week.  Before each vote, I have made an effort to consider the affected groups and seek their input.  I have been impressed by the attitude of my colleagues in the legislature, similarly reaching out and working to develop compromise without forfeiting their conservative principles.  As I have been advised, even proposed laws that appear to have no impact on local government can often create new mandates on local governments.  With this in mind, I have had regular contact with representatives from local governments comprising House District 104.  I plan to continue this as issues are brought for legislative consideration. 

 

 

It is a true honor to represent the citizens of House District 104 in the State House of Representatives.  If I may ever assist you with an issue, or if you have input for proposed legislation, please contact me by email at chuckefstration@gmail.com. 

Legislative Update: January 21 to January 24

Legislative Update

State Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula)

January 21, 2014 to January 24, 2014 (Legislative Days 6 through 9)

 

First Committee Meeting

                I attended the House Juvenile Justice Committee meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 21.  This was my first committee meeting as a member of the General Assembly.  The committee heard testimony from State Rep. Buzz Brockway about HB 524, a bill to open access to original birth certificates following an adoption.  The bill was referred to subcommittee. 

Gwinnett Delegation Meeting

                On Wednesday, the Gwinnett County delegation held its first meeting of the 2014 legislative session.  As the newest member of the delegation, I had an opportunity to hear about local legislation up for consideration this year. 

Passage of the 2014 Supplemental Budget

On Friday, Jan. 24, the House overwhelmingly passed HB 743, the 2014 supplemental budget.  This budget accounts for a 1.5% revenue increase since the budget was passed last year.  Over half of these funds were budgeted for education.  With a focus of local control, this funding is distributed to local school districts and accounts for new student enrolment since passage of the 2014 budget.  Locally elected school boards will appropriate these funds to end teacher furlough days, restore a full school year of classes, and employee raises.  In 2014, Gwinnett County saw new student enrollment of over 4,100 children.  To account for this increase, the supplemental budget provides an additional $19 million for GCPS.  Much of this funding helps to restore the education budget cuts seen in Georgia over the past several years. 

 

The 2014 supplemental budget also provides for critical funding to allow for private sector job creation, improve public safety, fund state mandates on county government, and improve oversight for child protective services.  One such program of interest was the $500,000 of continued funding approved for the Youth Challenge Program.  As a former prosecutor in the Gwinnett County Juvenile Court, I have first-hand knowledge of how the Youth Challenge Program provides the structure needed for at-risk youth to earn a high school diploma and leave a path of continued criminal behavior. 

 

HB 743 now moves to the State Senate for consideration. 

 

Changes to State Health Benefits Plan

                This week, I will be posting proposed changes to SHBP to assist impacted constituents.  If I can assist you with a particular SHBP issue, please email me at chuckefstration@gmail.com. 

Legislative Update: 1/13/14 - 1/17/14

Legislative Update

State Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula)

January 13, 2014 to January 17, 2014

 

To keep constituents updated on the 2014 legislative session, I am providing a wrap-up with my weekly experiences in the General Assembly. 

 

Committee Assigments

Elected in a December special election, I am currently one of the three newest members of the Georgia State House of Representatives.  As a new member of the General Assembly, I was very excited to receive my assignments for committee service.  This year, I will serve on the Insurance Committee, Juvenile Justice Committee, and the Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee.  These committees are expected to examine and consider some critical issues, and I am thrilled to offer my input in such important areas. 

 

Office Assignment

For residents of House District 104, I invite you to visit me in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building if you happen to visit the State Capitol this legislative session.  On Monday, I was assigned office 601-C.  The office is between two other members of the Gwinnett delegation, State Rep. Brett Harrell and State Rep. B.J. Pak. 

 

Seat in House Chamber

I took my seat in the House Chamber for the first day of session on Monday morning.  I am seated in the Chamber between State Rep. Sharon Cooper and State Rep. Eddie Lumsden, two legislators that have been helpful and kind in looking after their new colleague. 

 

Joan Zellner

As I began my first day of service in a legislative session, I was saddened to learn of the passing of my friend Joan Zellner.  Joan was a long-standing and beloved member of the Gwinnett County Elections Board.  She was an honorable, kind person and a knowledgeable resource for election issues.  For more than 25 years, Joan volunteered her time and energy to serve the voters of Gwinnett County and the Gwinnett/Georgia GOP.  Although I know she is now in a place of comfort and peace, Ashley and I are going to miss her terribly. 

 

Legislative Email Issues

I received access to my legislative email account for the first time on Tuesday.  After extensive contact with IT, it seems that I am only able to access emails sent to my legislative account beginning Tuesday afternoon.  If you sent an email to my legislative account and haven’t received a response, it is because I haven’t been able to access the message.  Please resend the email to chuckefstration@gmail.com.  

 

State of the State

Governor Nathan Deal gave his State of the State Address to a joint session of the General Assembly on Wednesday.  In his speech, the Governor proposed restoring some of the educational funding that was cut over the past several years, creating a Zell Miller HOPE Grant for technical college students who keep a 3.5 GPA, and increasing the number of DFCS caseworkers.  Throughout the remainder of the week, the legislative appropriations committees held hearings on the proposed budget.  As a fiscal conservative focused on fostering private-sector job growth and the protection of the autonomy of our local schools, I have been reviewing the 2014 Supplemental and the 2015 Budgets page by page. 

Introduced Legislation

This week, I was proud to co-sponsor HB 688, a bill to eliminate the state income tax and replace it with a consumption based tax.  Also, I authored and introduced my first bill as a member of the General Assembly, HB 770.  Consistent with the criminal justice reforms passed over the past two years, HB 770 will create the new criminal offense of Home Invasion, providing more appropriate penalties for criminals that enter occupied homes to commit violent offenses.  With such penalties in place, sentence guidelines and prison terms can be reduced for certain nonviolent property offenses, thereby saving state funds. 

 

First Vote

On Friday, I cast my first vote as a member of the General Assembly.  The House voted to agree to HB 310, as passed by the Senate.  HB 310 will move the state primary election date to May 20, coinciding with federal elections.  This became necessary after a recent federal court ruling that moved federal elections to May.  Enactment of HB 310 will serve overseas military personnel by allowing additional time for mail ballots, save expenses by holding state and federal elections simultaneously, and institute additional disclosure requirements to improve transparency. 

Chuck Efstration Announces Fundraising Success

Former Gwinnett Assistant District Attorney and Gwinnett Republican Chairman Chuck Efstration, conservative candidate for State House District 104, today announced his fundraising success as of June 30th.

On his first campaign disclosure report, Chuck reported a total of $22,650.00 cash on hand since entering the race in April.

 “I am humbled by the outpouring of support I have received since announcing for my campaign for State House,” said Chuck.  “It is an honor to have so many people get behind the campaign so early in the process.  This cash on hand is a testament to the growing momentum of the campaign.  The people of District 104 want a conservative champion that will deliver bold, new ideas for our future.”

“Over the next year, I will continue to work hard to personally earn the trust and support of the people.  If elected to the State House, I will provide new, energetic leadership that will work to reform government, implement a fair tax in Georgia, protect our schools and help attract high-quality jobs to ensure our families in this district and this State have a bright future.”

 

Chuck Efstration files paperwork to seek House District 104

APRIL 9, 2013 - DACULA, GA:  Chuck Efstration, a former Gwinnett County prosecutor and former chairman of the Gwinnett County Republican Party, filed paperwork Wednesday to begin accepting financial support in the race for State House District 104.  

“Since the conversations began that state Rep. Donna Sheldon was considering higher office, I have been approached by many people about serving in the State House to carry on her mantle of conservative leadership.  This has been very humbling,” said Chuck.  

“Rep. Sheldon's outstanding service means there are big shoes to fill.  However, the people of Gwinnett County deserve a conservative champion in the State House that will deliver bold, new ideas for our future,” Chuck said.  “Georgia should be leading the country in job creation, education and innovation, but we won't get there with the stale ideas of the past.  I humbly ask for your prayers, and I look forward to earning your support.”