Legislators looking toward fast 2014 session
by Jason Lowrey
Dec 29, 2013 | 1291 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local state legislators foresee a fast 2014 session, starting Jan. 13, so their colleagues will make it back to their home districts before the May primaries.

“If there’s something that’s very easy for us to debate, [get] through committee, get through rules and get on the floor and get it off very quickly, we will be able to do that,” said Rep. Paul Battles, R-Cartersville. “But because the primary is in May, we are set up that we’re going to go straight through. We’re not going to take any break time. We’re going to go literally through this session. ... The only day we’re going to be off is [Martin Luther King Jr. Day], and that’s it, and we’re going to go straight through and hopefully to finish up somewhere around the middle of March.”

For his part, Battles said he looked for the Legislature to take back up the school campus safety bill he proposed during the 2013 session, which included a provision for arming teachers following the necessary training. However, he said the bill is no longer his, as it has been drafted into another piece of legislation.

Battles added the 2014 session could see a pay raise for teachers.

“Of course, the budget is a real big issue. We believe we’re going to be able to give teachers a pay increase this time, which we have not been able to do for some time, and I don’t think that would be debatable. I think everyone would be happy to see that done,” he said.

Battles also believed the Legislature could take up a symbolic statement against the Affordable Care Act, also called “Obamacare,” and likely debate the Common Core curriculum when it moves to the floor. Still, he said the main idea would be speed.

“If it’s not earthshaking, [and] it doesn’t have to [be] passed this session, it won’t be,” Battles said.

Calls to Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, and Sen. Bruce Thompson, R-White, were not returned.

Rep. Trey Kelley, R-Cedartown, also expected the Legislature to move quickly through its business. He plans to introduce a bill allowing the road testing of autonomous vehicles in Georgia.

“It revolves around autonomous vehicles and making sure that Georgia is capturing the research opportunities,” he said. “... But right now they’re really into the development stage of that technology, which is really something that I think will be the next big breakthrough in automobile technology. I want to make sure that Georgia has laws in place that allow for that technology to be researched on our roads to take advantage of the presence Google already has in Georgia and also to hopefully engage Georgia Tech ... to help drive this technology.”

Kelley, newly elected for the 2013 session, said he enjoyed his first year under the gold dome.

“It went great. I enjoyed it. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to serve the citizens of the 16th District. It is definitely — there is always an opportunity to learn more. I don’t care if you’ve been there one year or 20 years, there’s always going to be the opportunity to develop a new relationship to learn a little more about that process. I really enjoyed that. I’m proud of the work we’ve done,” Kelley said.