Two House representatives from Cherokee County and one Senator representing Cherokee County took the oath of office for the first time last week as newly elected legislators.
Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) was again named chairman of the Science and Technology committee, a position he’s held since 2011. Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) will serve as vice chair of that committee.
Loudermilk was reappointed to the Senate Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee and the Senate Transportation Committee and was appointed for the first time to the Senate Public Safety Committee. He anticipates working with a lot of legislation dealing with the Second Amendment this year.
Loudermilk said he plans to continue looking at what the state should — or shouldn’t — do to attract science and technology companies, as he’s done on a statewide commission for the past two years.
“These are industries that generally pay higher than most manufacturing and have very little impact on the environment,” he said.
Loudermilk also expects to see legislation come through regarding cell phone towers.
“We need to make sure certain local governments don’t overregulate. Some are making taxes and fees so high that they’re driving up the price of service in those areas,” he said.
Beach, a Senate newcomer elected less than a week before the start of the legislative session, was also named to the Senate Government Oversight, Senate Economic Development and Senate Transportation committees. He will be secretary of the transportation committee.
“I was very, very happy to get on Economic Development, because that’s my job, and I’ve been very laser focused on creating jobs in the private sector. I was also very happy to get on transportation, since that’s something I know about, having been on the Department of Transportation board for five and a half years,” he said.
Beach plans to look at transportation and science and technology through the lens of economic development and helping bring private-sector jobs.
With limited transportation funding, Beach said that the state would need to prioritize projects that can give the best bang for the buck.
Beach named improving interchanges, installing roundabouts and using technology like sensors that synchronize traffic lights in real time as innovations the state might pursue.
“We need to see where the worst congestion is and attack those areas,” he said.
Rep. Michael Caldwell (R-Woodstock) was assigned to the Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight, Code Revision and State Planning and Community Affairs committees in the House.
“I am especially excited to be a part of the Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committee’s hearings that monitor the state’s spending programs,” Caldwell said.
Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton) was named to three House committees: Information and Audits, Judiciary Non-Civil and Transportation.
“Judiciary Non-Civil, victim advocate legislation comes out of there, so I’m looking forward to working with the prosecuting attorneys,” said Ballinger, a former victim advocate for the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit.
Ballinger said the transportation committee will be looking at innovative ideas to ease roadway woes.
Cherokee County’s only returning representative, Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Canton), has been named chairman of the newly reorganized House Code Revision Committee and secretary of the House Special Rules, House Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight and House State Planning and Community Affairs committees. He has also been assigned as a member of the Appropriations, Banks and Banking, and State Properties committees.
“I’m honored that Speaker Ralston and the Committee on Assignments has appointed me to Chair the Code Revision Committee as I have always been more interested in reducing the number of laws on the books rather than try to create more, something that I believe most Georgians would agree with,” Hill said. “This is an ideal position for me and I will be working closely with the Speaker and his staff to accomplish this goal of reducing the size of state government.”
Loudermilk, who represents western Cherokee and eastern Bartow counties, filed Joint Resolution 28 last week, a resolution aiming to express remorse for slavery.
Loudermilk said positive reaction to the resolution is growing.
“Of course, there’s some concern out there by some saying ‘Why would I need to apologize for this? I’ve never enslaved anybody.’ My response to that is to read the resolution before making your decision,” he said, adding that the resolution contains language from several of the nation and state’s founding documents.
While Loudermilk said the current Legislature can’t apologize for the actions of the past, “You can express remorse and express your disagreement with the injustice that was done,” he said.