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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.