District 54 State Rep. Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, the House of Representatives majority whip who represents Buckhead, said balancing the state’s budget will be among the main concerns for the session. He said he will also be focused on House Bill 123, which would allow parents to petition their local school boards directly for a traditional school to be converted into a charter school.
“I also have House Bill 199, which will assist our local water systems in creating what are called water grids that will help detect more rapidly water leaks and to assist in having those plugged,” Lindsey said. “Conservation is a very important concern to our region when it comes to our existing water supply.”
Additionally, he said he will be trying to pass a bill to give greater support for minors in court who are the victims of sexual abuse. It will allow them to testify via video instead of having to face their alleged abusers.
District 6 State Sen. Hunter Hill, R-Smyrna, who represents Vinings and parts of Buckhead and Sandy Springs, also said the budget will be a top issue.
“We are going to be looking at investing more money in [the state Division of Family and Children Services],” he said.
“There’s been some challenges with personnel. Obviously, there’s been some serious tragedies, and one of the prognoses was that we are understaffed. So we’re going to put some more money in that to staff it up and make it a more robust organization.”
Hill said he will be sponsoring Senate Bill 255, to streamline and standardize the process of developing public-private partnerships, which he introduced to the Senate last year.
District 39 State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, the Democratic whip whose district includes parts of Buckhead, said the most important issue for this year’s upcoming session is Medicaid expansion.
“There are 650,000 people in the state that would have health insurance if the governor opted to do Medicaid expansion,” he said. “Several hundred of those 650,000 — maybe as many as a few thousand — are going to die in 2014 because the governor has chosen not to accept Medicaid expansion.”
Fort said not only would Medicaid expansion save lives, but it would spur economic development with the creation of thousands of jobs. He said he will continue to implore the governor to expand Medicaid this year. Another focus for Fort this session will be repealing Georgia’s Stand Your Ground law, which gives individuals the right to use deadly force in a perceived dangerous situation without first trying to evade or retreat.