Three members of the delegation, ranging from a veteran lawmaker to a freshman, said legislative priorities for 2013 include easing professional license renewals and both strengthening gun laws and leaving them as is.
District 35 State Sen. Donzella James, D-College Park, said she is “very concerned about gun laws” in Georgia, which she said were “more lax” than much of the country.
“I want to make sure who can carry a gun,” said James, a nine-term legislator whose district includes eastern Douglas County.
She said she felt Georgia needed to take some action on its gun laws in response to a gunman killing 20 teachers and students in a Connecticut elementary school in December.
A gun owner should be responsible enough not only to keep firearms away from children but “especially someone who is diagnosed as mentally challenged” in a household, she said.
District 68 State Rep. Dusty Hightower, R-Carrollton, said he is “very pro-Second Amendment” and would oppose any 2013 bill “that puts up any barriers” to gun ownership.
However, the first-term legislator, whose district includes southwest Douglas County, said his top legislative priority this year would be a bill to reduce processing times for almost 500,000 Georgians seeking renewal of their professional licenses.
A state law passed in 2011 to address illegal immigration requires anyone renewing a professional license to submit proof of citizenship. However, the law has resulted in applicants waiting five times longer than before its passage and an increased workload for the Professional Licensing Board, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
Hightower’s bill, which he plans to file in the first week of the session, would change the law to allow applicants to submit documents once rather than each time a license is renewed, said the representative.
“This is a piece of legislation that needs to be passed,” said Hightower, an attorney with the Douglasville law firm of Miller and Hightower. “Now, it could affect anyone from nurses to plumbers. It’s become a huge problem.”
District 62 State Rep.-elect LaDawn Jones, D-Atlanta, said her top priority for her first term is “information gathering and information giving.”
The newly elected lawmaker, whose district includes part of eastern Douglas County, said she wants to find out her constituents’ top issues and needs before introducing any legislation in her first term.
The Douglas County Legislative Delegation includes:
District 30 State Sen.-elect Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton.
District 35 State Sen. Donzella James, D-College Park.
District 61 State Rep. Roger Bruce, D-Atlanta.
District 62 State Rep.-elect LaDawn Jones, D-Atlanta.
District 65 State Rep. Sharon Beasley-Teague, D-Atlanta.
District 66 State Rep.-elect Kim Alexander, D-Douglasville.
District 67 State Rep.-elect Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville.
District 68 State Rep. Dustin Hightower, R-Carrollton.