Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, and Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer were among the GOP lawmakers in the Georgia Senate Majority Caucus to outline the conference’s priorities in a Capitol press conference Monday morning. The caucus’s goals for 2015 are reflected in the first three numbered bills filed in the Senate, covering autism insurance, supporting career education, and protecting the state’s vulnerable children.
The caucus’s goals include helping young children with autism, providing opportunities for high school students ready to take college level courses, and continuing and expanding the protection of the state’s children. Other more general goals include pushing economic development and job creation, and ensuring students are taught the founding principles of the American republic, including American Exceptionalism.
Senator Charlie Bethel talked about Senate Bill 1, which would provide insurance benefits to the one in 68 children affected with an autism spectrum disorder. Saying that we “cannot turn a blind eye to a clear crisis,” Senator Bethel pointed out that it much cheaper and more effective to treat a child with autism as a young child rather than waiting until he or she enters school.
Lt. Governor Casey Cagle addressed the second goal of improving education for students who may be able to take college level or technical coursework before graduating from high school. Senate Bill 2 would make that possible, and would build on the success of the state’s college and career academy program.
Senate Bill 3, the Supporting and Strengthening Families Act, is sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman. The purpose of the bill is to allow children in need of foster care to be handed over to someone other than a blood relative. The goals are to prevent maltreatment of children, to place fewer children on welfare and to support and stabilize the family.
It’s interesting to note that, except for opening remarks by Sen. David Shafer talking about the need to improve the state’s business environment by investing in transportation infrastructure, no mention was made of what is considered to be one of the most important issues facing the legislature this session. On the other hand, a bill reflecting the conclusions of the Joint Transportation Study Committee is expected to be introduced soon in the House, rather than the Senate. Given the theme of tying goals with specific legislation, perhaps that makes sense.
And, a press release announcing the initiatives had this:
The Majority Caucus also will use this session of the General Assembly to attract new businesses and promote job creation. Along with the proven tactics that have helped Georgia become the best place in the U.S. to do business, the Senate will work to improve the state’s infrastructure. This will ensure transportation issues do not interfere with businesses’ ability to transport goods and services and people have an easy ability to get to work, home, school, and church.
“Job creation remains our highest priority,” said Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R – Duluth). “We want to keep Georgia a place where businesses want to locate and where people want to live, work, study, and worship.”