2018 Legislative Session – Week Four Update

Here I am with Gov. Deal and Ansley Frickey, the Page for the Day.

On Monday, Jan 29th my colleagues and I reconvened for the 4th week of this year’s legislative session. The week was comprised of bill proposal hearings and passing legislation that will positively affect the lives of Georgia citizens. In this blog post, I want to share with you some details on bills concerning adoption, tax reform, retirement benefits for law enforcement, and the preservation of our state’s ecosystem.

Adoption Law Updates

In a previous blog post, I mentioned that our state’s adoption laws would soon be modernized. House Bill 159  passed unanimously in the House. The House worked with the Senate & the governor’s office to make some amendments and create a bill we could all agree on. This bill includes:

A four-day revocation period– Currently, birth mothers have 10 days to revoke surrender of the child. This new version of HB 159 will cut that time down to 4 days in order to balance out the rights of the birth mother and those of the adoptive parents.

Reasonable living expense update– At present, only birth mothers in agency adoptions are allowed reasonable living expenses. Updates to HB 159 would allow birth mothers to receive reasonable living expenses in private and agency adoptions.

Updates to repeal conflicting laws– HB 159 includes safeguards on temporary powers of attorney. It also requires local boards of education to extend maternity leave and other benefits to adoptive parents. You can read additional, similar updates here.

The updated version of HB 159 is now in the Senate and will soon be on its way to Gov. Deal’s desk for approval. This is an exciting piece of legislation for future adoptive parents and for our state’s children. I will keep you updated on the bills progress in later blog posts.

House Bill 661 and 694-Tax Reform

Another bill that passed unanimously was House Bill 661 which would make the process for filing and removing tax liens against real estate more efficient and transparent. This bill would:

-remove the current provision concerning statewide liens and revert back to county specific liens,

-require every tax lien against realty to be filed with the superior clerk in the county where the real estate is located,

-and increase transparency for taxpayers by updating the Department of Revenue’s process to electronic-based transactions as opposed to paper-based.

 
The House also passed another bill concerning tax reform last week. House Bill 694 would update the way motor fuel distributors and wholesalers submit their monthly motor fuel tax reports to the Department of Revenue. Currently, distributors file reports electronically if they owe the department $500 or more. This updated bill would require distributors to submit all monthly reports electronically, regardless of the distributor’s tax liability.

House Bill 135-Retirement benefits for DDS Investigators 

House Bill 135 would expand the term “law enforcement officer” to include Department of Driver Services (DDS) investigators. Investigators would qualify to receive up to an additional 5 years of creditable service in the state’s Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) for past law enforcement service. DDS investigators that are not already receiving retirement benefits from a local government for the same service and/or if they have been a member of the retirement system for at least 10 years will not be eligible. This bill updates a measure from last year that made it possible for all other law enforcement officers to receive creditable service through ERS.

House Bill 671-Specialty License Plate

The last bill I want to share with you concerns our state’s official state insect—the honey bee. Georgia is the 3rd largest bee producer and the 10th largest honey producer in the US. House Bill 671  would create a specialty license plate to promote honey bee conservation in order to protect an essential player in our state’s ecosystem. All the proceeds from license plate sales will go to the Georgia Beekeepers Association. This effort will raise awareness about honey bee endangerment and support beekeeper education, prison beekeeping, grants for beekeeping organizations, and research facilities.


The 28th day of the 40-day legislative session is called “Crossover Day.” This is the last day for a bill to move from one chamber to another. This means that my colleagues and I will be working diligently as we approach Crossover Day to make sure certain bills get the opportunity to be signed into law this year.

You are always welcome to come and visit me at my capitol office located at 601-C Coverdell Legislative Office Bldg. Atlanta, GA 30334. You can view my committee assignments for legislative term here. Please feel free to contact me by phone at 404.656.0254, or by email at dale.rutledge@house.ga.gov. Don’t hesitate to reach out throughout the legislative session with any opinions or questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you!

Family-Friendly New Year’s Eve Events in Henry County

New Year’s Eve Events Happening Near You
photo: property of Rockdale Newton Citizen

If you are looking for some family-friendly New Year’s Eve options, there are several events planned throughout Georgia. The McDonough Geranium Drop is a local favorite. Surrounding businesses get involved by offering specials, and parking & admission is free of charge. Go enjoy the live music and dancing on December 31 at 8 pm! For more ideas on how to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Georgia, read this article: New Year’s Eve celebrations planned throughout the state

Congratulations, Henry County Schools!
Henry Co Schools Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis, Ph.D | photo: property of South Metro Neighbor

Henry County Schools is the 2017 Henry Neighbor’s newsmaker of the year! This news source covered several positive updates about the Henry County School district throughout the year. Superintendent Mary Elizabeth Davis, Ph.D., stated that “A universal thread connects consumers to information about one of society’s highest priorities, . . . There isn’t one person who doesn’t care about the quality that education brings.” I am certain that we will see even more good news from Henry County Schools in 2018. To read more this story, visit this article: Henry County Schools a top topic throughout 2017

I Want To Hear Your Feedback.

With the new legislative session being right around the corner, I want to know what’s on the mind’s of District 109 citizens.

What do you want to see accomplished in District 109? What are your questions and concerns? Your feedback would be greatly appreciated and will help me serve you best. I look forward to hearing from you!

Happy Holidays: How to spend the season

The holiday season is upon us and there are plenty of ways to celebrate in District 109. Here are a few festive events for you and your family to enjoy!

Conyers – The Last Living Christmas Tree
photo: property of Rockdale Newton Citizen

This year is the last change you’ll get to see The Living Christmas Tree at First Baptist Church of Conyers. After 17 years of performing, they’ve decided to put on one last grand show. There will be over 100 singers, an orchestra, and the church will be beautifully decorated. Bring your family and friends on Dec. 8th, 9th, and 10th for the show. More info here: The Last Living Christmas Tree

McDonough- Fill the Bus Campaign
photo: property of Henry Herald

The Fill the Bus campaign is an annual effort to make Christmas special for hundreds of children in Henry County. Every year, people fill the bus with toys which eventually go to the Community Cares Toy Shop where families in need will be able to select gifts. The bus will make several stops throughout Henry County until Dec. 5. Find out how you can help here:
Henry collects donations for Christmas toy shop with ‘Fill the Bus’ campaign

Henry County – Holiday Events
Henry Herald Staff Photo: Brian Hadden

December’s Calendar is full of family-friendly events including Christmas parades, festivals, and opportunities for children to meet Santa. You can read more details on these upcoming events here: Henry Celebrates the Holidays with December Events

I Want To Hear Your Feedback.

With the new legislative session being right around the corner, I want to know what’s on the minds of the voter.

What do you want to see accomplished in District 109? What are your questions and concerns? Your feedback would be greatly appreciated and will help me serve you best. I look forward to hearing from you!

I participated in Take Your Legislator To Work Day.

Here I am photographed with Hannah ( to my left) and her co-workers.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month! I was honored to be asked to participate in Take Your Legislator To Work Day. The program is led by APSE: The Association of People Supporting Employment First. This organization created the program to raise awareness of the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities, and to show that employment should be the preferred outcome of publicly funded services for people with disabilities. I got the pleasure of going to work with Hannah Hibben at the Great American Cookie Co, located within the Locust Grove Tanger Outlets. She gave me a tour, I talked with her co-workers, and I learned about Hannah’s experience in the workplace. Click the following link to learn more about this terrific program: Take Your Legislator to Work Day
I Want To Hear Your Feedback.
With the new legislative session being right around the corner, I want to know what’s on the minds of the voters.

What do you want to see accomplished in District 109? What are your questions and concerns? Your feedback would be greatly appreciated and will help me serve you best. I look forward to hearing from you!

District 109 Updates That Concern You

 

Photo Credit: Henry Herald Staff Member- Asia Ashley

McDonough Opens Former Courthouse For Community Input-

McDonough city officials are asking for your input on how to use the former Municipal Court building located on Macon Street. Some have suggested that it be turned into a museum or even some kind of community facility. This is an opportunity for you to get involved in improving the community and learn about fellow citizens’ concerns.

What do you think this building should be used for? If you have any ideas on how to turn this property into something constructive for the community, email your suggestions to elyles@mcdonoughga.org.

Read more about this story here.

New Performing Arts Center Coming To Stockbridge-

A new performing arts center is in the works for Henry County. It will be located adjacent to Fairview Elementary School in Stockbridge. This new facility will ease parking issues at Fairview Elementary and will be a wonderful resource for teachers and students.

Read more about this new facility here.

The Race For The Fallen Charity Event-

The Race For The Fallen 5k & 1 mile returns to McDonough on September 9th. Proceeds from this race will go to families of fallen law enforcement officers. Sadly, life does not slow down after losing a loved one. These family members need our help and encouragement.

This race is a fun way to help the people in your community! All ages are welcome to come out to the Salem Baptist Church Recreation Complex for this event.

For more info & registration visit the race website.

Do you have questions about what I’m doing to advance District 109? Feel free to reach out to me with any questions, concerns, or thoughts on happenings in Henry County! I am proud to serve as your representative and look forward to hearing from you.

Office Number: 404.656.0254

 

2017 McDonough Geranium Festival

The 40th Annual Geranium Festival is this Saturday, May 20th—9am to 5pm. This free street festival has been a McDonough citizen favorite for many years now, and you should plan to check it out.

Have you never been? You can expect local artisans, activities for kids, festival food, and a fun day with family and friends on the McDonough Square.

Parking is also free for this event! You can park at the Henry County High School and take a shuttle to the Square. You also have the option to park in  the Judicial Center Parking Deck and walk a short distance to the festival.

Don’t forget to visit local business in the square for lunch and additional shopping! This festival is a fun way to support McDonough business and learn about the community’s organizations, churches, non-profits, and more. For more details on the festival, visit the official Geranium Festival website  or their Facebook page. I hope you enjoy welcoming warm weather and outdoor fun this Saturday!

Holiday Light Spectacular at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Holiday Lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway

The Atlanta Motor Speedway is full of fun year-round and the holiday season is certainly no exception. I hope you’re prepared for some festive fun because the Holiday Light Spectacular will stop you in your tracks. There are so many activities that you will be able to find something to please everyone you bring along.

Start your night off by driving through the giant winter wonderland light display. Here you can expect everything from giant reindeer flying above your head to long lighttunnelsof over three million lights. After the grand entrance, head down to the Village for your kids to meet Santa and tell him all of the things they are wishing for this Christmas. After that, head down to my personal favorite part: the carnival. If you love Ferris wheels, carousels, games, face painting, and delicious holidaytreats, this is the spot for you. With a wristband, you will have unlimited rides all night! Don’t worry mom, there is plenty for you to enjoy too. Santa’s Village has tons of shopping at local business vendors so you can get all of your holiday shopping done and maybe even buy a little something for yourself. After all of the fun, I know your stomachs will be growling so I recommend heading to Tannery Row Ale House to sit back, relax, and enjoy an exceptional dining experience. If you’re still hungry at the end of the night, you can sit by the open fire to warm up and enjoy frees’mores.

Need even more reasons to race down to the speedway? This Friday just so happens to be Cookies for a Cause where you can #DecorateforDonations alongside local Metro Atlanta Chefs. One hundred percent of the proceeds will benefit Speedway Children’s Charities and will remind you and your family what this season is really all about. If you can’t make it on Friday, plan to head over on Saturday for a showing of The Polar Express. All of  this fun is waiting for you in Henry County at Atlanta Motor Speedway. I hope you get the chance to enjoy celebrating at this great local attraction with your loved ones.

The Holiday Light Spectacular is open every day until Wednesday, December 30th this year, except on Christmas Day. Show hours are from 6:00 pm until 10:00 pm through the end of the month.

Source: Holiday Light Spectacular Info and Atlanta Motor Speedway

Photo Credit: Holiday Light Spectacular Info