By Senator Bill Hamrick
ATLANTA (Jan. 19, 2010) – Last week marked the beginning of the 151st Georgia State Senate Session. Georgia has a rich history dating back hundreds of years. We have seen many tumultuous periods from World War I to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Each time, our state comes out as a better, stronger state. This recession is yet another trying time but I am confident that all members of the legislature will work diligently for the people of Georgia so we can emerge once again as a national leader.
Gov. Sonny Perdue gave his eighth and final State of the State address on Wednesday. The speech was filled with advice and inspiration from an experienced leader and politician. It was interesting to here the perspective of a governor in his last term. However, unlike tradition, he did not go into detail with policy issues.
The budget is clearly the priority of legislative agendas at the State Capitol. We have many tough decisions ahead, but I am confident that if we stick to the principles of cutting spending, eliminating waste and not raising taxes, our state will grow to be a stronger, more prosperous and successful state.
The General Asseembly is preparing to begin budget hearings next week, where we will begin to go through the governor’s proposed budget and propose changes. While this is a trying time, it is also an opportunity to grow as a state. We have a chance to emerge a better state more prepared for tomorrow. We cannot pass this up, rather we must take full advantage of this opportunity.
This session, we will continue working with state leadership to get traffic relief to the people of Georgia. The governor, lieutenant governor, Senate and House will craft a plan which provides efficient transportation for economic and population growth. This plan will also create new jobs and new revenue streams. The governor has proposed $300 million in bonds for this year and the next ten years. We will also discuss the possibility of a local referendum on a penny tax to fund transportation.
As the chair of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, I understand bank failures are an issue. This is why I introduced and successfully fought for the passage of SB 57 last year. The problem needs to be addressed on the front end, not the back end. SB 57 addresses the source of the problem: mortgage brokers and sub-prime loans. Once a loan is signed, there is nothing the legislature can do. If we target this problem, we will take a major step in the right direction for the banking industry in Georgia.
Banks are among the most regulated industries in the world. There are hardly any other businesses that can be shut down by the federal government and federal law often preempts state law. These are reasons why the legislature is not reacting as strongly as some perceive we should react. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the State Banking Department remain the regulators of banks in Georgia.
I encourage you to share your ideas or suggestions, my committee and I would like to hear them. As we begin to conduct the business of the state, I invite you to contact me with any comments and concerns.
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Sen. Bill Hamrick serves as Chairman of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. He represents the 30th Senate District which includes portions of Carroll, Douglas, and Paulding counties. He may be reached at 404.656.0036 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.