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Gold Dome

November 13, 2018

Gold Dome Report – Special Legislative Session Day 1

The General Assembly returned to the State Capitol today under rainy skies and with a somber tone for a rare lame-duck Special Legislative Session. Called back to Atlanta by Governor Deal in part to provide for emergency funding for South Georgians struggling to recover in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, legislators arrived to also learn of the passing of one of their own, House Rules Chairman John Meadows (R-Calhoun). More on Chairman Meadow’s life of service, as well as details on Governor Deal’s funding proposal, inside today’s #GoldDomeReport. 

Inside this issue:

  • Governor Deal Proposes $270M in Emergency Funding in Hurricane Michael’s Aftermath
  • House, Senate Majority Caucuses Elect Leaders for 2019-2020 Session
  • IN MEMORIAM: Chairman John Meadows

Governor Deal Proposes $270M in Emergency Funding in Hurricane Michael’s Aftermath
In response to the catastrophic damage to public and private property caused by Hurricane Michael in October, the House of Representatives introduced HB 1 EX today, Governor Deal’s $270M spending proposal to address urgent needs in Southwest Georgia. According to the Governor’s Office, Hurricane Michael caused an estimated $2.5 billion in losses to Georgia’s agriculture and timber industries alone, and the spending proposal is aimed at providing funding for agencies responding to the disaster and for “economic development projects of statewide significance.” The $270M in funds originates from an increase to the Governor’s revenue estimate for FY2019 based on increased tax collections since the budget was passed in the spring. Governor Deal has proposed that the funds be allocated as follows:

  • $69M for the Georgia Department of Transportation to offset expenses incurred as a result of Hurricane Michael. According to the Governor’s Office, appropriating these funds from state general and motor fuel tax collections in this supplemental budget will ensure that other state transportation construction and maintenance efforts are not slowed while DOT targets resources on hurricane-impacted counties. 
  • $50M to fund the state match for federal disaster assistance funding. According to the Governor’s Office, state agencies have incurred $251M in direct expenses relating to the federal emergency response, of which the State will be responsible for a portion. This allocation will help fund the State’s portion. 
  • $30M for emergency disaster relief assistance to Georgia farmers. These funds can be used to leverage up to $120M in matching funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and distribution will be managed by the Georgia Development Authority. 
  • $25M for the OneGeorgia Authority to provide financial assistance to local communities and for statewide economic development efforts. These funds will allow the Authority greater flexibility in providing targeted awards to local governments in hurricane-affected counties to mitigate the economic impact of the storm. 
  • $20M for emergency timberland cleanup efforts. Funding from the Forest Debris Management Program will be awarded based on criteria and approval from the Georgia Forestry Commission. 
  • $9M to fund the state share of increased agency property insurance premiums for state properties. State properties and facilities have experienced more than $23M in damage, and, according to the Governor’s Office, this direct appropriation to DOAS will allow the agency to respond faster to assessing and paying claims. 
  • $7.4M to replace firefighting equipment used in clearing timberland destroyed or damaged. According to the Governor’s Office, the additional use of the Georgia Forestry Commission’s heavy equipment during the cleanup will accelerate the need to replace such equipment. 
  • $770K to expedite construction of the consolidated Miller-Early County District 2 Office for the Georgia Forestry Commission. This office will replace the individual Early and Miller office that were irreparably damaged by Hurricane Michael. 

The spending proposal also includes several allocations unrelated to hurricane relief, including:

  • $35M for Chattahoochee Technical College to establish an Aviation Academy at Silver Comet Field at Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport. 
  • $15M for Regional Economic Business Assistance (REBA) grants for projects with immediate statewide economic impact. According to the Governor’s Office, the REBA fund is expected to have a negative balance at the end of FY2019, and this funding will allow continued flexibility for the state to pursue economic development opportunities. 
  • $9.3M for the Mercer University School of Medicine to establish a four-year medical school campus in Columbus. 

Additional information about the budget proposal can be found here

House, Senate Majority Caucuses Elect Leaders for 2019-2020 Session
While under the Gold Dome, the majority caucuses in the House and Senate took the opportunity to hold organizational meetings with their newly-elected members. Each caucus also elected their leadership for the coming legislative session. House Majority Caucus leaders will include:

  • House Majority Leader: Rep. Jon Burns (R-Newington) 
  • House Majority Whip: Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown)
  • House Majority Caucus Chairman: Rep. Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin)
  • House Majority Caucus Vice Chairman: Rep. Micah Gravley (R-Douglasville)
  • House Majority Caucus Secretary/Treasurer: Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe)

The House Majority Caucus will also nominate Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) for re-election as Speaker of the House, and Rep. Jan Jones (R-Milton) for re-election as Speaker Pro Tempore. 

Senate Majority Caucus leaders will include:

  • Senate Majority Leader: Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) 
  • Senate Majority Whip: Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega)
  • Senate Majority Caucus Chairman: Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon)
  • Senate Majority Caucus Vice Chairman: Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry)
  • Senate Majority Caucus Secretary: Sen. John Wilkinson (R-Toccoa)

The Senate Majority Caucus will also nominate Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) for re-election as President Pro Tempore. 

IN MEMORIAM: Chairman John Meadows
Legislators and lobbyists arrived at the State Capitol today to the sad news that a giant in the House had passed away. Representative John Meadows (R-Calhoun), Chairman of the House Rules Committee, died at his home early this morning, just before the legislature was set to convene for its Special Legislative Session. Chairman Meadows will be remembered as an ardent patriot, thoughtful and deliberate legislator, and a loving husband, father, and grandfather. His obituary and arrangements are included below:

Georgia State Representative John Dudley Meadows III

Georgia State Representative John Dudley Meadows, III, age 74 of Calhoun, passed away on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at his residence.

John was born on August 28, 1944 in Gordon County to the late John Dudley Meadows, Jr. and Doris Esther Scott “Scottie” Meadows. 

John was a graduate of Calhoun High School, Class of 1962, and attended West Georgia College. He served on the City Council for sixteen years, and of thirteen of those years he was the Mayor of Calhoun. He continued his political career by representing Gordon County in the Georgia House of Representatives District 5. He has maintained this position since 2004. He was Chairman of the House Rules Committee. He also served on multiple committees including the following: Labor Committee, Insurance Committee, Retirement Committee, and Game, Fish and Parks Committee. John was a member of Calhoun First Baptist Church, and was owner and operator alongside his son, B.J. of Northwest Georgia Benefits. He served in the United States Marine Corps. 

John is survived by: his wife, Marie Knight Meadows; son, B.J. Meadows and his wife Cindy; daughter, Missy Richards; two brothers, Scott Meadows and his wife Judy, and Michael Meadows and his wife Patti all of Calhoun; three grandchildren, Will Meadows, Patrick Meadows, and Max Richards.

Funeral Services will be conducted on Saturday, November 17th at 2 PM at Calhoun First Baptist Church with Dr. Bert Vaughn and Dr. John Barber officiating. Interment will follow in Fain Cemetery with military rites. 
Pallbearers serving include: Cliff Meadows, Ashley Williams, Jason Holland, Brandon Reese, Michael Meadows, and Tommy Prather. 

The family will receive friends on Saturday from 11 AM until the funeral hour at 2 PM at Calhoun First Baptist Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions in memory of John, be made to the Boys and Girls Club at 10001 South Wall Street, Calhoun, GA 30701. 

You may leave the family online condolences at www.thomasfuneralhomecalhoun.com