As it is for many of you, December is a hectic month around my house, because along with getting ready for the holidays and relatives, I’m also preparing to return to the legislature. Once I’m done putting away Christmas decorations, I’ll start looking at policy briefs and pre-filed legislation. Our state has a 40 day legislative session that starts in January, during which time those fortunate enough to serve take time away from their families and businesses to debate policy, set budgets, and address local concerns. Georgia has a citizen legislature; that means that everyone serving also has a private-sector job they return to after the session. This type of legislative body helps ensure that those governing understand what their actions do to the people they govern.
Our Founding Father, James Madison, Federalist Papers, Number Fifty Two:
As it is essential to liberty that the government in general should have a common interest with the people, so it is particularly essential that the branch of it under consideration should have an immediate dependence on, and an intimate sympathy with, the people.
Our state’s part-time legislature fosters this common interest by making it so that a majority of members have an occupation separate from their service in the legislature. Farmers, doctors, lawyers and businessmen, who are bound by their desire to serve, come to together and take on the task of developing a budget and to craft responsible policies.
A major part of ensuring that the needs of a constituency are met is the involvement of concerned citizens. I and other legislators rely heavily on the input of citizens to help make policy changes that matter and positively affect our communities. I stay engaged in the community to know what’s important to those who have elected me to the General Assembly. But, even with my best efforts, I cannot know what matters to every resident in House District 23. I know that sometimes what is done under the “gold dome” seems to happen in a bubble, and I want to make sure that I make the process as transparent as possible.