Update from the Gold Dome: Week Three

Community, News

By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

Sen. Steve Gooch

ATLANTA — With three full weeks completed here at the state Capitol, we are finally entering into a routine, with convening in the chamber in the mornings, followed by committee meetings in the afternoons. Since this is the first year of a biennium, all legislation must reintroduced and begin the committee process all over again. For this reason, it will be a few more days until we have the opportunity to vote on bills in the Senate Chamber. However, legislators have been kept bust with attending standing committee meetings, as well as holding in-depth discussions on the budget and other legislative issues.

One area where we saw some significant progress was with our Amended 2021 Fiscal Year (AFY21) Budget. On Thursday, after a full week of hearings, the House passed their version of the budget in the form of House Bill 80. The very next day, the Senate began to hold our Appropriations Subcommittee hearings to further evaluate our state’s most important financial document. As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, we heard in-depth reports from the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Department of Driver Services and the Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority. As more and more Georgians return to work, it is vital that our roadways and public transportation infrastructure remain safe and accessible. As the final touches are added to the AFY21 budget, we must ensure that our transportation networks remain a priority.

On Thursday, in a meeting of the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee, we were provided with a very informative presentation on the current state of broadband infrastructure in Georgia. In 2018, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 402, known as the Achieving Connectivity Everywhere (ACE) Act. An important component of this bill was for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to construct a digital map to help identify discrepancies between perceived and actual broadband connectivity across the state. In Thursday’s meeting, we received a walkthrough of this new map in action and the new tools available to pinpoint exact locations where rural broadband access is lacking. This will be vital in gathering the data necessary to develop a plan to expand broadband into those hard to reach areas. While more work is necessary, particularly in the form of substantial capital investment from our state or federal partners, this map, paired with Gov. Kemp’s recommended total of $20 million to go towards rural broadband efforts, is a great first step towards achieving our goal.

Next week, we expect a number of additional bills to be introduced and assigned to committee. Of particular importance will be a package of election reform legislation that will serve as the starting point to revamping how elections are administered in Georgia. We will work on these issues as we continue our deliberations on the AFY21 budget. If my office can ever be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out.

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Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties.  He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at [email protected]

 

Sen. Gooch receives committee assignments

News, Press Release

ATLANTA (January 25, 2021) | Recently, Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega) received his committee assignments for the 2021 legislative session.

Sen. Gooch will serve as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Vice Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, and as a member of the Ethics, Finance, Reapportionment and Redistricting, and Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. Additionally, Sen. Gooch will serve as an Ex- Officio member of the Rules and Natural Resources and the Environment Committees.  Sen. Gooch will also continue to serve as the Senate Majority Whip.

“I am grateful for the Lt. Governor’s office and the Senate Committee on Assignments for allowing me to serve our community, as well as our state, through these committee appointments,” said Sen. Gooch. “This session will be unlike any other that we have experienced and will require careful, responsible leadership, particularly when it comes to our state budget. I am honored to have an opportunity to lend my experience to the service of our state through these committees, as well as through my role as the Senate Majority Whip.”

“Sen. Gooch, as well as all members receiving committee assignments, have proven their ability to provide meaningful solutions to issues citizens face across the state,” said Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. “Sen. Gooch brings a host of experience and knowledge to each committee he serves on and I look forward to continuing to work alongside him as he works tirelessly to advance policies in the best interest of all Georgians.”

The first session of the 156th Georgia General Assembly convened on January 11, 2021, at the Georgia State Capitol.

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Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties.  He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at [email protected]

 

 

Sen. Gooch reviews General Assembly

Business

PRESS RELEASE

By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

ATANTA — On Monday, Jan. 11, members of the Senate and the House officially gaveled in to begin the 2021 Legislative Session. The new session brings with it many familiar motions and procedures, including formally electing our President Pro Tempore, Secretary of the Senate, and Sergeant at Arms. All members of the General Assembly, both new and returning, were also officially sworn in to begin their new terms in office. In the Senate, we have eleven members who will be experiencing their first session with us and I am looking forward to getting to know them all as work to make Georgia as great as it can be.

While there were many similarities between this session and others I have experienced, new protocols have been introduced as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has drastically changed the way we do business at the Capitol. To start, all members of the General Assembly and Capitol staff are required to undergo COVID-19 testing twice a week. For those who test positive, a robust contact tracing program has been implemented to mitigate exposure of the virus. Additionally, seating in our committee rooms has been spaced out in order to socially distance committee members and new procedures have been introduced to promote fewer crowds on the Senate floor. I’m happy to report that testing and tracing has been working as intended and we are confident these measures will reduce the risk of an outbreak while we are in session.

Importantly, we are continuously working to get the COVID-19 vaccine to those in the most need. First, it is important to note that there are currently two different COVID-19 vaccines available in Georgia: Pfizer and Moderna. Both are proven to be effective and require two doses, but they differ in that Pfizer requires the doses being administered three weeks apart and Moderna requires 28 days. Right now, Georgia is receiving 120,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine each week and they are being deployed in three different phases. We are currently in the first (Phase 1), and doses are being administered to healthcare workers, employees and residents of long-term care facilities, first responders, and adults aged 65 and above. We will then move to the next phase which will include non-healthcare essential workers, followed by the final phase which will include those between the ages of 16-64 with preexisting medical conditions. If you fall into any of the groups that make up Phase 1, I encourage you to find a COVID-19 Vaccination Site near you and follow additional guidance from the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website.

On Thursday, we heard the annual State of the State Address delivered by Governor Brian Kemp. This speech highlighted a few of the Governor’s main budget priorities for the upcoming budget cycle, with a particular emphasis being placed on areas impacted by COVID-19. Specifically, the Governor is proposing $1.2 billion over the next few years to public education and $1,000 to go towards educators to ensure schools can reopen safely. Additionally, the Governor called for increased investment in rural broadband infrastructure, to expand high-speed internet access to communities such as ours.

Next week, these proposals will be examined in closer detail when members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees will meet to examine the state’s current and projected budgetary needs. “Budget Week” is one of the most important times of any legislative session, perhaps none more important than the one we are about to witness. If you ever have any questions about any of the legislative proposals we take up, progress on COVID-19 vaccinations or any budgetary items, please feel free to contact my office.

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Sen. Steve Gooch serves as the Senate Majority Whip.  He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties.  He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at [email protected].

Gooch previews 156th General Assembly

News

ATLANTA – After Republicans lost the Presidency in November and two Georgia Senate seats this week among dozens of allegations of voter fraud, it’s not surprising that election reform will be the hot topic when the Republican dominated 156th General Assembly opens Monday under the Gold Dome.

Senate Majority Whip Steve Gooch told Fetch Your News during a phone interview Friday, “There are a lot of questions that haven’t been answered yet. We’ve heard many allegations of fraud and abuse in the system so we’re going to dig deep into our election laws and look at how we do voter verification of advance votes and absentee ballots.”

Gooch, who represents Dawson, White, Lumpkin, Union, Gilmer and Fannin and a small portion of Forsyth County, added, “ I believe personally it should be just as restrictive to vote early and by absentee ballot as it is to vote on Election Day. If you or I go to vote on Election Day, we’re required to show a voter I.D. I believe that requirement should apply to people who vote in advance or by absentee ballot. I think there will be a lot of discussion on that.”

Democrats can be expected to oppose any change in election requirements.

“Democrats will probably try to accuse us of trying to suppress the vote,” Gooch said. “But that is not at all what I would see us doing. I see us as trying to secure the vote and ensure that all votes that are cast are legal votes. I believe there are signs and allegations of voter fraud that need to be further investigated and I hope the GBI and Secretary of State will continue to cooperate by looking into those charges.”

Gooch said he had seen dozens of sworn affidavits signed by poll workers and voters who saw things that did not look proper. “They are due an explanation,” he said. “We have a responsibility to the voters of Georgia that our election process is legal. We have, in my opinion, lost the confidence of the tax payers and voters in Georgia when it comes to elections. We have a little work to do to regain their trust.”

Lawmakers were forced to make major budget cuts last year due to the pandemic but some unanticipated revenue gains in income tax and sales tax may provide an opportunity to restore some of the cuts, especially in the area of public safety and education.

Gooch said he would like to restore some cuts to the state’s reserve fund. “We dipped into that some last year, and we need to keep that fund healthy.”

There will also be some transportation legislation to address freight and logistics issues.

“We will look at ways to use rail more efficiently and increase their usage of our port to get that freight and get some of that freight shifted over to our rail system,” he said.

He also raised the possibility of creating dedicated truck lanes on the interstate highways.

“We’ve been working on ways to get trucks to and from the port through Georgia in a more efficient manner while trying to minimize the impact on our citizens,” he said.

As the 156th General Assembly is gaveled into session Monday, the Senate is made up of 34 Republicans and 22 Democrats while the House has 103 Republicans and 77 Democrats.

 

 

American values for generations to come; Doug Collins statewide tour

Election, Election 2020, Featured
Doug Collins on Dahlonega Square on statewide tour

Congressman Doug Collins spoke on the Dahlonega Square, as part of his statewide tour – over 60 stops – leading up to election day. Senator Steve Gooch hosted the event and spoke to attendees about Collin’s American values.

Doug Collins talked to voters on Dahlonega Square.

Collins said before going into the polls, there has to be a vision and purpose and he spoke on the square to help the public see one.

“It’s time for sunrise in Georgia again. It’s time for sunrise in America where we’re looking ahead and not behind,” Collins said.

Collins had three reasons for him being in the race: his three children. His children are a representation for generations to come in America, which is something he said is important to continue to grow with American principles. Gooch said that Collins represents conservative values in North Georgia and believes he is the best choice to vote for.

Gooch additionally said David Perdue needs someone like Collins to push the Georgia values in Washington.

“Doug has been a conservative fighter and defender of Donald Trump,” Gooch said. “There’s so much at stake in this election. You have a clear choice in the presidential race but also you have clear choices on the down ballot ticket as well.”

Collins said he is a big believer in what the Founders built America on.

“When somebody guarantees you happiness, they’re taking it from somebody else to give it to you,” Collins said. “That’s not the America we live in. We live in a place where we have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to fulfill what God has put inside of you to go do.”

Collins has 20 more stops in the region and said being able to see the people in-person and “speak on his feet” is important for him as part of his journey leading up to election day.

Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black also spoke on the square about Collins. Black said money can buy a lot of things but what Collins has cannot be bought.

“Money will never buy integrity. Money will never buy courage…that’s the man that we’re going to bring up because he has courage, he has integrity,” Black said. “He’s stood solid for all of us, he’ll stand solid for the next generations and he will stand solid for America and Georgia for generations to come.”

Update from the Gold Dome Week 8

News

By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R — Dahlonega)

Sen. Steve Gooch

ATLANTA — After numerous lengthy committee meetings and passing 30 bills and resolutions in chamber, the Senate adjourned on Friday to complete our 25th legislative day. The days we have left remaining continue to diminish, but we made great progress on a number of important bills this week and set the state for a productive Crossover Day, which will take place next week.

To follow up on an issue that was discussed last week, progress was made on Senate Bill 415, which would enhance Georgia’s civil justice climate. After a few more lengthy hearings on this bill this week, it received favorable passage from the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. The bill has undergone a few changes, but its core purpose of streamlining how personal injury liability lawsuits are facilitated and evening the playing field between big corporations and main street businesses remains. SB 415 provides a remedy for several urgent, critical issues in our civil justice environment and will be a necessity if Georgia is to remain the number one state in which to do business. While passing committee is a significant accomplishment, more work remains to get SB 415 a vote on the Senate floor.

Over the past few years, the Senate passed several pieces of legislation to increase access to broadband internet connections, particularly in rural parts of the state. Last year, SB 2 was passed which allowed Electric Membership Companies (EMCs) to engage in broadband services and granted them the authority to utilize existing easements to deploy broadband. However, there was a small oversight with how these EMCs could operate along railroad easements. Senate Bill 370, which I sponsored, simply requires EMCs who work along these easements for broadband services to follow standards established by the Federal Railroad Administration. This bill will help further the spread of broadband across Georgia, while also ensuring the safety of those doing the utility work to make it possible.

This week, I also had the opportunity to recognize a distinguished group of passionate military veterans wishing to raise awareness about the growing issues of veteran suicide. I was pleased to welcome the United States Mountain Ranger Association to recognize Veteran’s Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month and announce the selection of “safety green” as the official color of their mission. Additionally, I introduced Senate Bill 336, which would create a special license plate for U.S. Army Rangers and recipients of the Meritorious Service Medal. While this small token will never be enough to thank these men and women for all that they do for our country, I hope these license plates will at least raise awareness of some of the urgent issues faced by veterans each day. Army Rangers have a unique connection with our community, due to the close proximity of Camp Merrill where prospective Army Rangers receive their Phase Two training in the North Georgia mountains, and I will never miss an opportunity to show them our appreciation for their service.

Next week, the Senate is scheduled to convene for four legislative days, concluding with Crossover Day on Thursday. As the final day for Senate bills to receive passage and be sent over to the House for consideration, we will likely face a lengthy calendar of legislation to consider. Throughout this process, we will be sure to keep the citizens of Georgia in mind with every vote that we take. If I can ever be of any assistance, or if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to my office.

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Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District, which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties, and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties.  He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at [email protected]

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

Update from the Gold Dome: Week 7

News

Sen. Steve Gooch

By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R — Dahlonega)

This week, the Senate completed Legislative Days 17 through 21, meaning we are now officially past the halfway point of the 2020 session.

In these 21 days, the Senate has addressed issues across the spectrum of policy areas including healthcare, public safety and foster care reform.

Our state has a lot to be proud of, especially our designation as the number one state in which to do business. However, a large part of fostering a positive business climate is having a strong legal system that promotes fairness and is efficient enough to handle some of the complex litigation that arises from business liability disputes. Currently, Georgia is severely lacking in several aspects of our legal environment that need to be addressed quickly in order to improve our civil justice environment.

Last summer, a Senate Study Committee traveled across the state to hear from stakeholders in the business and legal communities on some of the major areas of litigation that need to be improved in Georgia. This committee ultimately supplied a list of recommendations, which were taken into account in Senate Bill 415, which I sponsored. SB 415 received an extensive hearing in an Insurance and Labor subcommittee and addresses a variety of issues that would allow our judicial process to operate more efficiently and even the playing field for both mom and pop shops on main street, as well as larger corporations.

I am hopeful that this bill will move quickly through the legislative process so we can begin to make the incremental changes necessary to improve Georgia’s civil justice climate. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the senate to perfect this bill and get Georgia back on the right track.

In keeping with the theme of making Georgia’s business climate as strong as it can be, the Senate passed a bill that would allow the legislature to determine the economic viability of certain tax credit programs. While tax credits are undoubtedly an asset in attracting businesses to locate to or expand in Georgia, we also need to ensure that we are receiving a beneficial return on investment.

Senate Bill 302 would allow the Chairmen of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee to each request five economic analyses of tax credits each year. These analyses must include, among other things, the net change in state revenue associated with the credit. Having this data available will not only allow us to determine which current tax credits are more beneficial than others, but will also inform how tax credits are implemented in the future.

Healthcare was another issue that was addressed this week and the Senate made meaningful process in addressing an issue that has affected many patients across the state. “Surprise billing” has been an area the legislature has been trying to fight for years and this week we passed a bill that attempts to resolve many of the issues faced by consumers.

Senate Bill 359 would take the patient out of the middle of a price dispute when they unexpectedly receive out-of-network care and outlines an arbitration and negotiation process to allow insurance companies and healthcare providers to work these discrepancies out themselves. This will allow the consumer to focus on getting better and grant them more peace of mind when undergoing a medical procedure.

Since we are now past the official halfway point of the session, our next important deadline will be Crossover Day, which will fall on March 12. While that may sound far off, at the pace the Senate has been moving it will be here before we know it. There is still a lot of work to accomplish in the time we have remaining, such as the budget, but I am never too busy to hear from you. If you ever have any questions or concerns, I encourage you to reach out to my office.

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Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District, which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties, and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties. He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at [email protected]

Update from the Gold Dome: Week 5

News

By Sen. Steve Gooch

Sen. Steve Gooch

Our fifth week of business under the Gold Dome came to an end on Friday and represented a week where we were squarely focused on the budget. This week, the Senate did not convene for any legislative days and, instead, held a series of Appropriations subcommittee meetings in order to get a clearer picture of what Georgia’s Amended 2020 Fiscal Year and General 2021 Fiscal Year budgets will need to include.

Tuesday, I had the opportunity to serve as the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation. In this hearing, we heard from representatives from each state agency that has a hand in Georgia’s transportation infrastructure including the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the Georgia Department of Driver Services, and others. Specifically, these hearings highlighted the important role our roads, bridges and highways play in attracting economic development opportunities to our state. Total travel on Georgia’s roads increased by 1.9% during 2019 and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. As a growing state, we need to plan out our infrastructure to meet the needs of our increasing population and increased volume of traffic on our roads. These hearings gave me confidence that our state is in good hands and is well prepared to deal with these, and any other future transportation challenges our state will face in the future.

One of our priorities each year is to bring enhanced broadband internet coverage to every corner of our state. In particular, we have been looking at ways our localities can partner with the federal government to apply for grant funding to build rural broadband infrastructure. This week, many of these efforts paid of and it was announced that Gilmer County would receive $4.4 million from the United States Department of Agriculture for rural broadband initiatives. This announcement, part of USDA’s ReConnect Program, will help thousands of households in North Georgia access quality, high speed broadband internet. I look forward to working with our partners at the federal level and my colleagues in the General Assembly to continue to find new and innovative ways we can bring internet access to Georgians, particularly those in rural parts of the state.

The Senate will be back in session on Tuesday, February 18, where we will resume our normal routine of honoring special guests and passing legislation. In the meantime, we will continue to serve and represent your interests here at the state Capitol. If I can ever do anything to assist you, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or my office. I look forward to continuing to serve District 51 and the great state of Georgia.

 

Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District, which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties, and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties.  He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at [email protected]

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

Sen. Gooch: Week 3 in Ga. General Assembly

News

By: Sen. Gooch (R — Dahlonega)

Sen. Steve Gooch

This week the Georgia General Assembly had a full week, meeting for five legislative days with plenty of committee work in between. Overall, this was a successful week for the Senate, as we saw another important bill receive passage in our chamber.

While last week legislators were focused squarely on the budget, this week saw us broaden our scope to committee work. Over the 2019 interim, I chaired a Senate Study Committee that was tasked with taking a closer look at the role of personal mobility devices (such as electric powered scooters) and how best to ensure the safety of the rider and any pedestrians or vehicles the scooter may encounter. These considerations were included in Senate Bill 159, which I presented to the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday. We were careful as a state not to provide regulations that were too strict and gave great flexibility to counties and municipalities in how they wish to regulate the use of these devices in their communities. The bill received favorable consideration from the Senate Transportation Committee and will hopefully be considered for a vote by the full Senate in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, the Senate took up House Bill 444 for a vote. This bill proposes a cap on the number of dual enrollment classes a student may earn credit for at 30 hours. This will ensure that this popular and beneficial program will be able to continue for years to come by lessening the cost of the program. HB 444 would also make sure that our students our using the dual enrollment classes for core courses that are easily transferable, so that they may be used a wider number of colleges and universities. These small adjustments will not have any effect on the majority of students who participate in the dual enrollment program and will ensure that it remains sustainable for future generations of students to enjoy.

The proper maintenance of our roads, bridges and highways is always one of the top priorities of the General Assembly each year. As the number one state in the nation in which to do business for six straight years, we know this would not have been possible without efficient infrastructure. On Thursday, we heard a presentation by the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation in a joint meeting of the Senate and House Transportation Committees in order to hear an update on GDOT’s ten-year plan for our roadways. I am encouraged and optimistic by GDOT’s vision and I looking forward to working with their team to continue to ready our infrastructure for the logistics needs of the next decade.

The Senate will meet next week for legislative days ten through thirteen. We are still early in the session, but the groundwork is currently being laid out to ensure each and every legislative day will be well spent. As always if there is ever anything I can do for you please do not hesitate to reach out to me or my office.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

Senate unveils priorities for 155th General Assembly

News

ATLANTA, Ga. –As our state’s constitution demands, my Senate colleagues and I convened the second Monday in January – for the latter half of the 155th Georgia General Assembly.

Of course, with a new session always comes new challenges, and the most daunting challenge for this year’s forty-day sprint will be adjusting to the absence of a dear friend, Senator Greg Kirk, who left this world far too soon. His friendship will be sorely missed and the hard working men and women he represented are now without the best and most fearless champion they will ever have. My prayers remain with Greg’s wife, Rosalyn, and the entire Kirk family.

I also had the privilege of being invited to the White House to attend a signing ceremony for the new Phase One Trade Agreement between the United States and China. This agreement will drastically lower many of the barriers our farmers face when attempting to export their goods internationally and will spur economic development opportunities across Georgia’s agriculture industry. I look forward to witnessing firsthand how this trade deal benefits Georgia’s farmers in the coming months.

Also last week, the majority caucus unveiled our Senate priorities for the upcoming session. Among them: my continued pursuit of broadband access for all Georgians – just as we made a commitment to the telephone over a century ago, it is imperative that we continue to invest the time, the manpower and the required funding to connect every corner of Georgia to the twenty-first century. I am happy to continue to lead on this issue, just as I am happy, and honored, to lead on our other priorities: creating greater transparency in healthcare, curbing infant and maternal mortality rates and empowering our law enforcement community.

On Thursday, Governor Brian Kemp outlined his legislative priorities for the session in his annual State of the State address. In this speech, Gov. Kemp emphasized the progress our state has made since last year and reinforced his commitment to combating gangs and human trafficking. He also reiterated the commitment he made last year for our educators by following through with an additional $2,000 pay raise Georgia’s teachers. I look forward to working with the Governor’s Office on these proposals and others to continue to make Georgia as great as it can be.

This week, the Senate will not be in session. But we will still be busy at work as budget hearings will monopolize the majority of our week. As anyone who listened to the Governor’s State of the State Address this week knows, the budget process this year will be a challenging one, but my colleagues and I were elected to serve as good stewards of your taxpayer dollars and we are ready for the challenge.

Thirty-six legislative days remain. And, in that time, a lot can happen. But the one thing I can guarantee: Georgia’s best days are ahead of us, and I am eager to help get us there.

 

Sen. Steve Gooch serves as the Senate Majority Whip. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties. He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at [email protected]

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

Sen. Gooch’s bill condemns impeachment of President

News

Sen. Steve Gooch

ATLANTA — Wednesday (Dec. 18), Sen. Steve Gooch (R– Dahlonega) pre-filed Senate Resolution LC 112 0167 condemning the Congress of the United States for their impeachment proceedings against Donald J. Trump.

This resolution was pre-filed Wednesday (Dec. 18) by Gooch, John Wilkinson (R – Toccoa) and Brandon Beach (R – Alpharetta).

“Politics hit a new low in our Nation’s Capitol with the impeachment vote that is expected to be taken tonight,” said Gooch. “It is sad to see the partisan bickering in our U.S. House of Representatives. Congress should be working together to protect our families and fellow Americans across the United States.

“Cutting our national debt and deficit spending should be a priority at a time when we are experiencing historic low unemployment numbers and historic highs in the stock market. Protecting our borders and investing in much needed infrastructure should be the issues they are debating, not these baseless allegations against President Trump.”

Resolution LC 112 0167 will be introduced in the Georgia Senate when the General Assembly reconvenes on January 13th.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

Senate committee to evaluate E-scooters Monday

News

ATLANTA – The first meeting of the Senate Evaluating E-Scooters and Other Innovative Mobility Options for Georgians Study Committee will be held on Monday. at 10 a.m. at the Georgia World Congress Center in the Authority Boardroom.

Sen. Steve Gooch (R –Dahlonega) will serve as chair of the Senate Evaluating E-Scooters and Other Innovative Mobility Options for Georgians Study Committee which was created by the passage of Senate Resolution 479 during the 2019 Legislative Session. Five members serve on the study committee and will evaluate how local governments, state agencies and universities are utilizing E-scooters and other innovative mobility technology. The committee must report its findings on or before December 1.

The tentative agenda is located here: http://www.senate.ga.gov/committees/Documents/E-Scooter9-23.pdf

WHO:   Sen. Steve Gooch and Members of the Senate Evaluating E-Scooters and Other Innovative Mobility Options for Georgians Study Committee

WHAT:  First Study Committee Meeting

WHEN:  Monday, September 23, 2019 10 a.m.

WHERE:          Georgia World Congress Center-Authority Boardroom 285 Andrew Young International Blvd NW  Atlanta, GA 30313

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C.  FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

Lumpkin County BOC work session scheduled Tuesday

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DAHLONEGA, Ga. — Finance Director Allison Martin will present the proposed 2020 budget when the Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners meets in a work session at 4 p.m. Tuesday (June 4) in the Lumpkin County Administration Building.

A representative from Mauldin and Jenkins will present the 2018 audit to commissioners who need to approve the audit so that staff can begin the process of filing of required state and federal reports.

Among the resolutions to be considered are the following:

  • Reappointments of members of the Yahoola Creek Reservoir Property Study Committee and State Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) as chairman;
  • Approval of acceptance of the Georgia Heritage Grant Program for rehabilitation of the historic Dahlonega jail. The grant requires a 60/40 match. Anticipated cost for the update is $125,000, thus the county would be responsible for about $50,000;
  • An Update of the county purchasing policy to account for other changes that have been adopted and changes to work flow;
  • Abandonment of Larmon Forks Road;
  • Revision to Chapter 26, Land Development – Lumpkin County Code of Ordinances;

Contracts and agreements to be considered include:

  • Enotah Public Defender Indigent Defense Contract;
  • Enotah Public Defender Indigent Defense Contract – Four counties ;
  • Renewal of the contract with Medical Director Dr. Jack Freeman (Emergenocy Services Director David Wimpy);
  • ACCG-IRMA Property & Liability Insurance Renewal (Community & Employee Services Director Alicia Davis).

OTHER items on Tuesday’s agends include:

  • Special Event Permit Request for Community Helping Place Annual Gold Party Fundraiser;
  • Consideration of Termination of Etowah Water Authority & Lumpkin County Consideration of Enotah Judicial Circuit Budget (Finance Director Allison Martin).

 

Sen. Steve Gooch: Update from the capitol week 5

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By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

Week five was quite productive here at the Capitol. We passed four pieces of legislation, all unanimously, and welcomed many distinguished guests. I am pleased with the efficient pace that legislation has moved through the committee process and made it to the Senate Floor, and I hope to continue this throughout the rest of session. Among the bills heard in committee last week, two bills I sponsored to address broadband expansion across the state had a hearing and passed out of committee.

On Tuesday, Senate Bill 17 passed out of the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee with unanimous, bipartisan support. SB 17, the “Rural Telephone Cooperative Act,” would allow telephone cooperatives in Statesboro, Metter, Newington and Rentz to provide internet services and broadband to their customers.

On Thursday, Senate Bill 66, the “Streamlining Wireless Facilities and Antennas Act,” passed through the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. SB 66 would modernize Georgia law by addressing the use of public right of ways by wireless providers so that 5G and future generations of cellular mobile communications may be deployed in the most efficient manner. SB 66 would streamline the process for telecommunications companies as they go through the permitting process to collocate small wireless facilities (small antennas) on existing or new poles.

This legislation has been a work in progress for the last several years and I am proud of the hard work done to get it passed through committee and onto Senate Rules. Local governments have worked with private companies to achieve a piece of legislation that we believe will benefit all parties involved. The growth of 5G technology is vital to broadband expansion throughout the state. Not only will this expansion give rural areas access to speedy wireless communication, but these benefits will also disseminate into other areas of telecommunications. If we have 5G capability throughout the state, we could improve traffic and autonomous vehicle technologies that will relieve traffic congestion in the metro-Atlanta area. 5G capability would also allow us to expand our telemedicine industry, which would create more health care resources of which rural areas can take advantage. I hope that this legislation will bring more necessary resources to rural Georgians.

Along with these two bills passing out of committee, I would like to highlight the four bills that passed out of the Senate with unanimous and bipartisan support last week:

  • SB 6 – Would make it a criminal offense to use a drone for the transportation of contraband or taking pictures or video above an incarceration facility.
  • SB 16 – Would allow Georgia to enter into the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact which would give doctors moving here from other Compact states an expedited licensing process.
  • SB 38 – Would clarify language having to do with fees for electronic filing of leaves of absences and conflict letters in court.
  • SB 52 – The annual code revision bill that makes updates regarding redundancy, punctuation, grammar and sentence structure to the Official Code of Georgia.

This week, I hope to move SB 17 and SB 66 out of the Senate Rules Committee and to the Senate Floor for a vote. If you have any questions or concerns regarding SB 17 or SB 66, the bills passed this week, future legislation or the process in general please do not hesitate to contact my office. It is always a pleasure to hear from my constituents, as I am here to represent you to the best of my abilities!

Windstream Announces Major Upgrade in North Ga.

News

Windstream President Jarrod Berkshire cuts the ribbon at the Dahlonega today to announce a major upgrade in service to 100 Mbps.

DAHLONEGA, Ga. – Windstream today announced that it has completed a major upgrade of its cable TV network in Dahlonega, delivering up to 100-mega-bits per second (Mbps) internet speeds to about 6,400 homes and businesses.

The announcement came at a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Windstream office in Dahlonega that was attended by State Sen. Steve Gooch and Lumpkin County Commission Chairman Chris Dockery.

Jarrod Berkshire, president of operations in Georgia for Windstream, said, “I’m proud to announce we’re going to be able to offer ups 100Mbps to over 6,400 homes in Dahlonega and 67,000 across all of north Georgia. Business used to be brick and mortar. Today, it’s beyond that. You have to have connectivity to the rest of the world. This is a great day for Windstream and it’s a great day for our community.”

Citizens in Dahlonega whose homes or businesses are passed by Windstream’s cable TV network are eligible for 100Mbps service. To inquire about service, call 877-894-6391 or visit the Windstream retail store at 340 Walmart Way in Dahlonega.

State Senator Steve Gooch

Gooch who has worked on bringing broadband internet to rural areas of Georgia for several years said, “This is an issue that has been near and dear to my heart for several years. The internet system is somewhat like the interstate system in America that was created in the ‘50s. That was the thing that really connected America. Today the superhighway is no longer the interstate system. It’s the internet. People like Amazon are coming to Georgia to create thousands and thousands of jobs.”

Gooch said there are bills pending in Atlanta that will help incentivize companies like Windstream, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Charter to partner with Lumpkin County and all these development authorities to bring good internet to our communities.

Commission Chairman Chris Dockery

Dockery called today’s announcement a “big step forward.” He added that the Association County Commissioners of Georgia has identified the internet as the No. 1 priority for the upcoming legislative session. “I commend Sen. Gooch for all the time and work he has put into trying to find solutions to the internet issue and Windstream for their commitment to our community.”

The upgrade plan that was announce late last year will provide 100Mbps service to more than 67,000 locations in 13 counties, including Dawsonville, Helen and Cleveland.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners will hold a work session Tues.

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DAHLONEGA, Ga. – The Lumpkin County Board of Commissioners will hold a work session at 4 p.m. Tuesday, followed by a 6 p.m. public hearing in the County Administration Building.

The meeting will begin with the presentation of the 2019 Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) Legislative Service Award to State Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) by ACCG Deputy Legislative Director Todd Edwards.

State Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega)

Gooch has been a driving force behind rural broadband initiatives during the last two legislative sessions. He authored SB 402 (the Achieving Connectivity Everywhere Act) in 2018 that set the framework for Georgia’s Broadband Deployment Initiative. In 2019, he sponsored SB 2, authorizing the state Electric Membership Cooperatives to provide broadband service.

Although his bill to provide the legal framework for e-scooters to operate in Georgia did not pass, he facilitated discussions between the e-scooter industry and local governments that ultimately led to a study committee being created on the topic.

Commissioners will have a number of resolutions to consider, including establishment of the millage rate and the 2020 budget, Mobile Home and Manufactured Home Decal ordinance, a Senior Center transportation resolution and an amendment to the surplus property resolution.

The Mobile Home & Manufactured Home Decal Ordinance resolution would allow Tax Commissioner Rachel Pruitt to contract with a retired law enforcement official to serve citations to each delinquent mobile home statement. The fee for delinquent tax would be $50. The process server would be paid $30 per citation and the county general fund will receive the addition $20 for services rendered and the cost of citation.

The Senior Center resolution would enable the Senior Center to operate a vehicle for transporting seniors to and from the center for the congregate nutrition and activity programs. Additionally, the funds allow for taking congregate participants on off-site trips, to shopping, errands and medical appointments. The resolution would allow the Senior Center to contract with Deanna Specialty Transportation, Inc. to provide transportation at a cost of $52,000.00 for the period July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.

The Board will also consider a contract with North Georgia Concrete for $78,902 for modification of the front entrance of the Senior Center and Mental Health buildings to bring them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. County staff could provide the demolition work which would reduce the overall cost of the project. If North Georgia Concrete does the demolition work, the overall cost would be $106,527.50.

Commissioners are also expected to consider annual lease renewals for the Ninth District Opportunity to operate the Lumpkin County Head Start Program in a county facility and maintenance and testing of the 911 phone system.

Taylor Stukes and his wife have generously offered to donate an eight-foot by 20-foot metal shipping container to the Emergency Services department to help them with the erection of their burn building. Commissioners will approve a resolution to accept the gift.

The county has a proposed a budget based upon the direction of the Board of Commissioners. Staff is still waiting on operational estimates for the new library. Representatives from Lumpkin County and Dawson County will meet in early September to discuss funding. After that meeting, staff should have a better understanding of how the system will be funded by Dawson County and can obtain direction from the Board on how much funding should be given to the library.

Staff has prepared the unincorporated millage rate with a 1 mill rollback. Until the budget is finalized, the millage rate calculations and forms cannot be completed. As soon as everything is finalized, it will be posted to the notebook.

A public hearing is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday to discuss the budget, but staff notes that the budget will not be in final form at that time.

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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