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State Sen. Greg Kirk: This week under the Gold Dome — Jan. 16. 2016

ATLANTA — The second session of the 153rd Georgia General Assembly began this week with much energy and resolve. I am excited and prepared to represent Georgia’s 13th District and speak up as your representative in the Senate.
We set the schedule for our first 13 legislative days and welcomed two new Republican senators, JaNice Van Ness (R-Lithonia) and Larry Walker (R-Perry). With elections quickly approaching, we are expecting a quick, but effective legislative session as we work to pass legislation that will create positive change for Georgians.
I am honored to continue serving as the vice-chairman of the State and Local Government Operations Committee and as a member on the Health and Human Services and Agriculture and Consumer Affairs committees. Additionally, I will now serve as a member of the Committee of Natural Resources and the Environment for the 2016 Session.
Gov. Nathan Deal delivered his State of the State Address on Wednesday, Jan. 13. He reinforced how far we have come since the Great Recession and directed us in a positive direction to further support education, both at the K-12 level and into higher education. He called for modernization of the school system, bettering our chronically failing schools in the state and a 3 percent pay increase for our teachers. He hopes to continue providing grants for technical college education in order to decrease the job skills gap. With more funding and grants given to education, we hope the youngest of Georgians will grow up to one day be positive, contributing citizens of our great state. Gov. Deal also made a point of positively reinforcing our successful criminal justice reform, saying, “Georgia is recognized as the leading state for meaningful criminal justice reform.”
Looking ahead, the governor hopes to decrease our high school dropout rate, do away with mandatory funding dedicated to bureaucratic paperwork, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, and decrease the annual turnover rate for state of Georgia employees. We believe that these measures will add to the prosperity and success of our state in the future.
On Thursday, Jan. 14, Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert (R- Athens) set the 2016 Republican Caucus legislative agenda. As Deputy Whip, I look forward to enforcing our agenda and encouraging Republican senators to continue making Georgia one of the best states to live and thrive. Our main priorities for the 2016 Session include protecting Georgia’s citizens through improved anti-terrorism plans and extra safety measures, addressing Georgia’s rural healthcare needs and helping support teachers to give them the freedom to fulfill their job responsibilities with vigor.
Other important agenda items include protecting the right to life with more access to pregnancy resource centers and support, protecting First Amendment rights, protecting the disabled by easing financial strains and protecting our small businesses from government intrusion.
The 2016 Legislative Session is off to a roaring start and I look forward to representing you all fiercely and with conviction. I am honored to be your Senator and I will do everything in my power to be your voice in the Senate this year.

Sen. Greg Kirk represents the 13th Senate District which includes Crisp, Dodge, Dooly, Lee, Tift, Turner, and Worth counties and portions of Sumter and Wilcox counties. 404-463-5258