Category Archives: Politics

Deal Announces Sixth Record Year in International Trade

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that the state experienced a record increase in total trade for the sixth consecutive calendar year, maintaining its national ranking as the 11th-largest exporting state and seventh largest importing state.

“We proudly offer access to the fastest-growing port in the nation, the world’s busiest airport and a collaborative business environment unmatched by other states,” said Deal. “These assets provide a gateway for Georgia companies to thrive in global markets, and Georgia’s international representation is well-aligned to support them. Today’s news further demonstrates that international trade remains an important economic driver for our state.”

 In 2015, the state’s imports increased by 5.7 percent to $88.55 billion and companies in Georgia exported to 217 unique countries and territories—representing a $35 billion sum. Georgia led the nation in the export of chemical woodpulp, poultry, kraft paper and paperboard, carpets, Kaolin and chemical products such as insecticides. The top export industries were aircraft/spacecraft, non-electric machinery, non-railway vehicles, electrical machinery and paper/paperboard, making up 56 percent of Georgia’s total exports.

Georgia’s top 10 export destinations accounted for 56 percent of total exports; the top five export countries accounted for 41 percent. Canada remains Georgia’s largest export partner, followed by Mexico, China, the United Kingdom and Germany.

“Georgia’s global connectivity is a critical factor in the state’s competitiveness and economic development,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Commissioner Chris Carr. “We know that international trade means quality jobs and investment for our state, and our international trade team will continue to work with exporters, communities and private-sector partners to create new market opportunities for Georgia products and services.”

The state’s imports outpaced exports by approximately $50 billion. Georgia ranked first in the Southeast in dollar value of imports. The state’s top five import partners were China, Germany, South Korea, Mexico and Japan, accounting for 61 percent of total imports.

To celebrate companies who have entered into new international markets, Deal will recognize the 2015 GLOBE (Georgia Launching Opportunities by Exporting) Award winners at the Go Global reception on March 8. For more details on the event, visit Georgia.org/GoGlobal.

To read the full  import/export report, please click here.

About the International Trade division

The GDEcD’s International Trade division, with the support of international representatives in 11 key global markets, provides free export services and assistance to Georgia companies.

Deal Announces Additional Investment in Medical Schools

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced the state will invest an additional $70 million in two medical schools as a result of a settlement agreement offer from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The recipients, Morehouse School of Medicine and Mercer University, were selected based on their continued efforts to place graduates in rural and underserved areas throughout the state.

“The state should receive these funds as a result of a health care lawsuit settlement regarding Medicaid reimbursements,” said Deal. “It is only fitting that we in turn invest this money in health care education programs, particularly those that prioritize placing primary care physician graduates in high-demand areas throughout the state. Likewise, this funding fulfills a decades-old commitment made to Mercer University by the state. With this investment in its health care program, we are making good on that promise. Finally, we look forward to continue working with these two medical schools to advance their health care training and delivery efforts.”

“Morehouse School of Medicine is extremely pleased and honored that Gov. Deal continues to recognize the significant contributions that we are making to increase the number of primary care providers who practice in underserved urban and rural communities in the state of Georgia,” said President and Dean of Morehouse School of Medicine  Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice. “This additional investment from our state lawmakers will allow us to continue to increase the enrollment of our medical school and residency programs, as well as ensure increased access to innovative and critical health services for the residents of our state.”

“We are grateful to Gov. Deal and members of the General Assembly for their ongoing and steadfast commitment to improving the delivery of healthcare to Georgians in rural and underserved areas of our State, including exploring new and innovative approaches to meeting rural health challenges, said Mercer University President William D. Underwood. Mercer University is committed to use these funds to make a profound difference in the education of future physicians from Georgia. These funds will directly support future physicians who demonstrate a commitment to providing primary care in areas of the greatest need.”

 

REPORT FROM THE CAPITOL by Representative Rick Jasperse

The House reconvened on Monday, February 1, to start our fourth week of the 2016 legislative session. With a month of session behind us, we are hard at work in the General Assembly working on meaningful legislation that will have a positive impact on all Georgians. Numerous bills have been approved and passed out of their respective committees and many made their way to the House floor this week for a vote before the entire House of Representatives. Some bills have been voted down or changed significantly.

Budget work continues everyday for the different facets of the 2017 Budget. My committee on Education met with the Ga Dept. of Education folks on Thursday. We did a lot of fact finding and understanding on what the Governor and the Dept. had planned for the budget areas they are responsible for. Lots of questions were asked! These committee meetings are taped and are available for all Georgians to look at from the Georgia House of Representatives website. It’s a bit complex for here to explain, but I can send you a step by step how to look at any of the house meetings you might want to look at. If you ever hear me talk, you will learn that the committee meeting is where our main work is done. It’s a good place to keep an eye on what we are doing.

It is no secret that for this year and for the past few years, education is one of the General Assembly’s top legislative priorities; therefore, we unanimously passed House Bill 801 (Jan Jones, R-Johns Creek) this week to encourage students to take college courses in certain areas. HB 801 would change the GPA weighting system for HOPE Scholarship recipients who take certain science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses. HB 801 would direct the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia to select bachelor-level STEM courses to receive extra weight when calculating the HOPE scholarship GPA while a student attends college. Under HB 801, a student completing a class selected for extra weight would receive .5 added to his or her grade when calculating the HOPE scholarship GPA. To qualify for additional grade weighting, identified core and major courses must be determined to be academically rigorous and lead to jobs in high demand STEM fields. By providing additional GPA weight to courses where our state sees the most need, we are making strides to bridge the skills gap in Georgia without risking the scholastic fulfillment of our students.

A vital workforce is essential to a thriving economy; therefore, enacting legislation that will reinforce our state’s business climate and that will arm our citizens with the tools they need to succeed in Georgia’s job market is crucial. Much like HB 801, we also passed House Bill 402 (Eddie Lumsden, R-Rome) this week, which is another measure that seeks to close the skills gap in Georgia. HB 402 passed our body unanimously and is an effort to increase business partnerships and participation with local public school systems for K-12 work-based learning programs. Work-based learning programs allow students age 16 and older to participate in a structured learning environment at an employer’s job site for a portion of the school day, while also receiving academic credit. Modeled after Georgia’s drug-free workplace program, HB 402 would offer businesses that participate in the program a discount of up to five percent on their worker’s compensation insurance premiums as an incentive to encourage participation. It is important to instill a strong work ethic in our teens, and Georgia’s work-based learning program is an excellent way to teach students the true value and responsibility of employment. By encouraging these partnerships through the passage of HB 402, we are not only providing businesses with greater program incentive, but we are also providing students with the invaluable, hands-on experience in the workplace at a young age.

We also passed a measure this week intended to ease the burden on our public safety officers who spend their entire careers working to protect the well-being of all Georgians. House Bill 421 is legislation to provide enhanced disability benefits to community supervision officers employed by the Department of Community Supervision who become permanently disabled due to an act of external violence or injury incurred in the line of law enforcement duty. Under HB 421, deputy conservation rangers with the Department of Natural Resources, parole officers with the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, probation officers with the Department of Corrections, and any community supervision officer with the Department of Community Supervision would be eligible for a monthly disability compensation of $5.00 per month for each year of creditable service. The bill further calls for a minimum monthly disability retirement benefit equal to two percent of their monthly earnings beginning the month their permanent disability occurred until mandatory retirement age. Our community supervision officers do far more than we realize to keep the citizens of our State safe, and I was proud to vote for this legislation to show our appreciation for their sacrifice.
This week we saw a bunch of folks from our region, Our Firefighters, Nurses, Veterinarians, Agriculture leaders and Farm Bureaus, Librarians, Game and Fish Rangers, and Pastors from around the State. I had the opportunity to recognize the 21 winners of Leadership awards and State 4-H offices including our very own Trent Whisenant, from Murray County on the House floor.

As we continue through the legislative session, I hope that you will contact me if you have questions or concerns about these bills, or any other legislation that may come before us. As your State Representative, it is my job to represent your thoughts and opinions in Atlanta, and I would like to hear from you. At the recent Mardi Gras in the Mountains, a fundraiser for Ga. Mtn. Hospice, a lot of folks shared their opinions on a variety of matters with me. I don’t mind at all hearing from folks. Please call ahead if you are in Atlanta during the legislative session; I would love to see a face from home., or call my office at the State Capitol and let me know what I can do for you and your family. My Capitol office number is 404-656-7857,and my email is rick.jasperse@house.ga.gov.