Wednesday, April 9, 2008

GA Sen Ronnie Chance, Legislative Wrap Up, SB 458,

Senator Ronnie Chance dropped by the Fayette County Republican Party's First Saturday Breakfast the morning after the Legislative session ended (at midnight). He talks about the controversial Senate bill that stirred Fayette County to make record numbers of calls to the Governor. He also discusses some of the dollars that will be coming to Fayette, procudures, the budget and other topics of interest to Georgians. Video: 3/5/08

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Open Letter from State Senator Ronnie Chance April 5, 2008

Dear fellow Fayette County citizen:

I want to thank you for the many phone calls and emails I have received from you expressing your concerns about maintaining our exemplary school system here in Fayette. The very fact that you are so involved is a large reason that our schools enjoy such great success.

Several days ago the State Senate passed SB 458 relating to vouchers for students in failing schools and systems. I feel it is important to clarify the vote and explain the often complex legislative process to dispel the confusion surrounding this issue.

The original bill, sponsored by Eric Johnson (R- Savannah), was designed to allow students from failing schools to enroll in a voucher program to attend private schools, other schools within the same system or systems outside of the current system at the discretion of the receiving system. The language originally read, “systems may accept students from non-accredited systems based on availability. The bill was amended in the Senate to read, “systems shall accept students based upon availability. The amendment passed by unanimous consent, meaning no vote or debate occurred prior to final passage by the Senate.

The state’s legislative counsel determined that the phrase ‘based upon availability’ still gave systems the ability to choose to accept or deny students, as is the case under current law which allows any system to choose to accept students from other systems. However, due to the ambiguity of the amendment language, the following week we amended the bill in the House back to the original version which included the ‘may accept’ phrase. We then stripped all references to public schools from the bill in the House Rules committee. Last night, the last day of the 2008 legislative session we were successful in killing the bill completely by preventing the House from calling it up for a vote prior to adjournment.

As you know, our legislative process is very deliberate to ensure that each chamber of the legislature and governor has adequate time for debate and review to hopefully pass quality legislation for Georgians. During every step of this process, I, along with State Representative Matt Ramsey, have been in daily contact with our county school superintendent and members of the local board of education to ensure the interests of Fayette students are being protected by everyone.

As a graduate of Fayette County High School and the father of two daughters who will be attending our public schools, I am undeniably committed to ensuring Fayette schools maintain the high level of standard we have all worked so hard to achieve.

Thank you for allowing me to represent you in your State Senate. It is a responsibility I do not take lightly. I welcome your comments and suggestions and hope you please feel free to contact me on my cell phone (678) 794 -0678.

I also want to thank all of you who were able to attend our town hall meeting on Saturday, March 29, and I encourage you to remain vigilant in following the legislative process and holding our elected officials at every level accountable. Thank you again.

Ronnie Chance

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sen. Chance secures needed public safety funding for Fayette County

State Sen. Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone) has secured much-needed funding for Fayette County public safety services in the Fiscal Year 2009 state budget. This new funding, totaling $200,000, will be appropriated to Fayette County for the planning, design and construction of a new emergency operations center and public safety facility. In addition, $9000 in new funding will be used to purchase thermal imaging devices for the Fayette County Fire Department.

“I am pleased to have been a part of this process, which will provide improved emergency response and public safety services in Fayette County,” said Sen. Chance. “I’d also like to acknowledge the efforts of the Fayette County public safety and EMS personnel. Their commitment to public safety and the well-being of Fayette citizens is to be commended.”

Sen. Chance requested this important local assistance funding for Fayette County in the FY 09 budget, which was approved recently in the General Assembly. The state will begin the process of appropriating all local assistance funding on July 1, 2008.

“This funding will go toward the emergency operations center that is the heart of these activities,” said Chairman Jack Smith of the Fayette County Board of Commissioners. “We are pleased that Senator Chance has secured this funding for the emergency operations center and public safety facility. This is another example of county and state officials working collaboratively to fund critical infrastructure in Fayette County.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

3/24/08 - FY ‘08 budget receives final passage

As the Senate moves closer to the final gavel of the 2008 session, the news at the Capitol this week was the final passage of the Fiscal Year ‘08 amended budget. This year’s FY 08 amended budget places an emphasis on natural resources, trauma care funding and education. We’ve added over $300 million to the existing $20.2 billion budgeted for fiscal year 2008. The final version of the FY 08 budget that was agreed upon contains:

• $40 million dollars in new funding for the construction of reservoirs and $500,000 for the maintenance and improvement of existing reservoirs
• New funding for state mental hospitals, child welfare services and the PeachCare program
• $6.3 million dollars added to the hazardous waste trust fund
• $53 million in new funding for trauma care, some of which goes to Grady Hospital
• $20 million in equalization funding for education to compensate for new student enrollment

Given the recent prediction of slowing state revenues, I feel we have a fiscally responsible budget for the remainder of FY 08, which strikes a good balance between the critical needs of the state and the desire to keep state spending under control.

Some other bills passing the Senate this week include:

HB 1019 creates the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank within the State Road and Tollway Authority. The measure will assist in funding new transportation and road projects in the state.

HB 921 allows the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance to participate in a nationwide licensing system for mortgage brokers and lenders.

HB 945 authorizes certain persons to access vehicle tag and title information in order to provide notice to the owners of towed or impounded vehicles.

HB 1014 expands the Georgia Higher Education Savings Plan to include qualified tuition programs.

HB 1026 exempts utilities from notice and hearing requirements when the Department of Transportation removes facilities that are obstructing road projects.

HB 983 authorizes law enforcement agencies from neighboring states that are in fresh pursuit of a suspect who crosses into Georgia to arrest and hold such person in custody.

HB 1245 reforms and streamlines the current indigent defense system in Georgia with the goal of maintaining solvency.

As always, please contact me in my office and let me know your opinions, your thoughts and your concerns.