On Monday, January 9, 2023, the Georgia General Assembly convened for the first day of the 157th Legislative Session. Since Monday marked the start of the 2023-2024 legislative term, the first day of session began with members of the Georgia House of Representatives taking the oath of office, and this year, we had the honor of being sworn in by Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Boggs. Once we were sworn in, we immediately took up our first order of business, which was to elect a Speaker of the House and Speaker Pro Tempore who will guide our chamber over the next two years, and we also voted on legislation that sets our legislative calendar for this session.

After hearing the nominations, Speaker Jon Burns (R-Newington) was elected to serve as the 75th Speaker of the House of Representatives by acclamation. Speaker Burns is now the presiding officer of the House, where he will determine the leadership and membership of House committees, assign legislation to committees, call legislation for debate on the House floor and enforce the rules of the House. Additionally, Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton) was re-elected to her respective position by acclamation. Following the death of Speaker David Ralston in November 2022, Pro Tem Jones served as the 74th Speaker of the House for the remainder of the 2021-2022 legislative term, making her the first female Speaker of the House in state history. 

Also on Monday, the House and Senate voted to adopt an Adjournment Resolution, Senate Resolution 6, to set our calendar for this legislative session. Each session lasts 40 non-consecutive days, and this year’s calendar sets our final day of session, or “Sine Die,” on Wednesday, March 29. We have an aggressive schedule this year and much work to accomplish before session ends this spring. You can find a copy of the full legislative calendar here.

Later in the week, the House and Senate convened for a joint legislative session for the inauguration of Governor Brian Kemp for his second term in office. Citizens from across the state gathered as Gov. Kemp took the oath of office at the Georgia State Convocation Center in Atlanta. During this joint session, Gov. Kemp also administered the oath of office to Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones and other statewide constitutional officers who were elected this past fall. In his inaugural address, the governor discussed his goals for his next term in office and reflected on the recent accomplishments of our state, which has emerged from the global pandemic stronger than ever due to the resilience of our citizens and the leadership of all of our elected officials. During his address, the governor also announced his goals to partner with the Georgia General Assembly this session to create better schools, safer streets, good paying jobs and greater economic opportunities. 

Finally, on Friday, the House began the session day with a moment of silence for the thousands of Georgians who were impacted by the severe storms that swept across the state on Thursday afternoon. The governor issued a State of Emergency on Thursday evening, which authorized the state’s emergency management and public safety agencies to mobilize first responders and begin rescue and recovery efforts. Please keep the families impacted by these storms in your thoughts and prayers as the state’s recovery efforts continue.

I will be working diligently on behalf of our entire district now that the 2023 legislative session is officially underway. I hope you will take the opportunity to review updates like this throughout the session to stay informed on legislative matters that may affect you, your family and our community. The House website, www.legis.ga.gov/house, has a number of publicly available resources to help you stay up-to-date on the work we are doing at your state Capitol. You can watch a live stream of the House floor proceedings, view live and archived committee meetings and review proposed legislation that comes before the House. I also want to encourage you to follow the official House Twitter and Facebook accounts, which provide daily updates on House floor votes and other important announcements about session. 

I would be remiss if I did not congratulate the University of Georgia Bulldogs on their back-to-back College Football Playoff National Championship title this week. These elite national champions represented Georgia well as they dominated the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs in Los Angeles. The first day of session coincided with game day, and the House made sure to wish the Dawgs the best of luck before kick-off. 

After we celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, my colleagues and I will return to the Capitol on Tuesday to begin our work on one of the most important pieces of legislation of this session: the state budget. Before leaving the Capitol on Friday, my colleagues and I received the governor’s budget books, which include his budget recommendations. We will review these recommendations over the weekend, and the House and Senate Appropriations committees will hear directly from the governor to discuss his recommendations on Tuesday morning. The Appropriations committees will continue to meet throughout next week to discuss budget requests from our state agency heads, and I look forward to sharing updates with you. 

As we move throughout the legislative session, I welcome you to reach out to me with your thoughts and opinions about legislation, including the state budget. Your feedback is crucial to developing good, sound policies for our state, and I look forward to discussing my legislative goals for this session with you. I can be reached at dale.washburn@house.ga.gov or by phone at 404-656-0152.  

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative for the 2023-2024 legislative term.

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