Politics
4:58 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

Georgia's House Speaker Unveils Legislative Priorities

Georgia’s 2014 legislative session starts Monday. Today, House Speaker David Ralston spoke about his legislative priorities.

Speaker Ralston says his biggest priority is the state budget. Now that state revenues are increasing, Ralston says some additional money could go to education, healthcare and the state’s rainy day fund. Ralston is also hopeful state employees will receive a boost in pay.

“Teachers have been very patient, and I think it’s time we reward that patience frankly, and other state employees have been in a flat situation for a number of years now, and I’m hoping we can sort of reverse that situation this session.”

Last year, a 10-year-old girl died after caseworkers in Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services dismissed allegations of abuse despite an extensive case history. Ralston says he could bring forward legislation that would address issues in the division.

“This is a very complex issue, and it’s one we have to make a priority.”

In fact, Ralston says he’s not endorsing but is open to examining the potential privatization of the division. The House speaker also hopes legislation to allow college students to carry guns on campus will move forward this year. Last year, both chambers approved legislation to expand gun rights but the House and Senate couldn’t come to an agreement by the session’s end.

Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

“I’m hoping that our colleagues over on the other side of the Capitol will sit back down take a look at that, that we cans sort of get the special interests out of the way on that.”

Ralston also reaffirmed his backing for Governor Nathan Deal's  decision not to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.

“I supported that decision then, I still support that decision.”

This year’s legislative session is expected to be one of the shortest in recent history because a federal judge moved Georgia’s primary election from July to May 20th. Some previous sessions have ended in April or occasionally as late as May. Ralston says this year lawmakers will wrap things up in March.