Category Archives: Politics

Secretary of State Brian Kemp Launches Ambassador Program

Secretary of State Brian Kemp launched the Secretary of State’s Ambassador Program for high school students today at the State Capitol. The Ambassador Program is a leadership training program for high school students that encourages civic participation and voter registration.

“As the father of two high school students, I know firsthand how important it is for young adults to participate in leadership activities so they will become invested citizens in their communities,” said Secretary Kemp. “This program is the first of its kind in Georgia, and will provide a unique and meaningful experience for participating students.”

The program’s launch includes 14 high schools from across the state with over 150 students serving as Ambassadors. This initial group will serve as a pilot program during the spring semester of 2016 with the program opening state-wide in the fall for the 2016-17 academic year.

Students who serve as Ambassadors promote civic engagement, voter registration, and volunteerism in their schools by speaking to classes and assemblies, hosting voter registration drives, and volunteering in their communities. The goal of these activities is to educate high school students about the government and show them how to become engaged through voter registration or volunteer opportunities.

The program prepares Ambassadors for this work by providing students with training materials and guidance for public speaking, working in a team environment, time management, problem solving, and professionalism. Students will have the opportunity to develop these skills as they participate in the program.

“In addition to the work these students will undertake as Ambassadors, it is my hope they will learn self-confidence and leadership abilities that will help them in their careers ahead. I am also excited about getting the next generation of Georgians engaged as voters at a young age,” said Kemp.

The inaugural class of Student Ambassadors represents the following Georgia schools: Baldwin High School, Carrollton High School, Eastside High School, Fannin County High School, George Walton Comprehensive High School, Habersham Central High School, Hebron Christian Academy, Luella High School, Mount Zion High School, North Hall High School, Parkview High School, Roswell High School, The King’s Academy, and Wilkinson County High School.

Brian Kemp has been Secretary of State since January 2010. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting secure, accessible, and fair elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities, charities, and professional license holders.

Georgia’s unemployment rate declines to 5.5 percent in December

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced today that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in December was 5.5 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from 5.6 percent in November. The rate was 6.6 percent in December 2014.

“The rate dropped to its lowest level in nearly seven years as our employers continued to create jobs and hire more people,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “While we saw a net increase of 3,300 jobs in December, our private sector employers actually added 6,000 jobs, but cuts, primarily in government, offset some of that gain.”

The number of jobs increased in December to 4,317,600, up by 0.1 percent, from 4,314,300 in November.  Much of the job growth came in professional and business services, 5,000; other services, 2,100; and construction, 1,900.

Job losses came in government, financial activities, trade, transportation and warehousing and leisure and hospitality.

Georgia continued to show solid job growth over the year. The number of jobs rose by 91,100, or 2.2 percent, compared to 1.9 percent for the U.S. growth rate.  Most of the over-the-year job growth came in professional and business services, 27,300; trade, transportation and warehousing, 17,500; leisure and hospitality, 13,000; education and health services, 12,900; construction, 8,100; manufacturing, 6,800; government, 5,800; and financial activities, 2,200.

While the number of jobs increased, the number of initial claims for unemployment insurance, a measure of new layoffs, rose by 14,136, or 41.9 percent, to 47,909 in December. Most of the rise was due to an increase in temporary claims filed in textile manufacturing and administrative and support services, which includes temporary employment agencies.

However, over the year, the number of claims was down by 9,601, or 16.7 percent, from 57,510 filed in December 2014. The decrease came mostly in accommodations and food services, administrative and support services, manufacturing and construction.

In December, the state’s labor force increased by 14,446 to 4,764,702.

Butler continues to encourage job seekers and employers to use the GDOL’s online job listing service,, where 65,320 jobs throughout the state were posted in December.

To learn more about career opportunities and GDOL services for job seekers and employers, connect with us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter @GeorgiaDOL, which can be easily accessed via our website at


Reviewing Georgia’s Budget

By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

The Senate reconvened for week two after taking a long weekend to observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Every year, the Georgia General Assembly comes together to review and approve a budget for the state. Passing a balanced budget is a requirement set forth by the state constitution, so this means we must come to a consensus before the end of session—otherwise, the end of session will never come. It is a priority for both the House and Senate to set a reasonable, fiscally responsible budget that provides for our great state and its people.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I spent the week with other legislators closely reviewing Governor Deal’s budget recommendations for both the Fiscal Year 2017 general budget and the Fiscal Year 2016 amended budget. This in-depth look at the budget allowed us to break down the big numbers and look more thoroughly for where funds should be distributed during the year. This review process included presentations from state agencies that provided us with information about their most pressing funding needs. This testimony is needed in order for the Georgia General Assembly to create a well-established, detailed budget that is agreed upon by both legislative chambers.

Within the Appropriations Committee, I serve as the chair of the transportation and as a member of the higher education subcommittees. Throughout the week, I worked with my fellow subcommittee members to carefully review these two specific areas of the budget. I take this role very seriously and know that my voice within these subcommittees can be my biggest contribution to the completed budget. I am able to speak openly, add meaningful input and speak out against line items that does not support or benefit the important needs of District 51.The discussion will continue until a full budget plan is agreed upon in both the House and Senate chambers—this is sometimes a process that can last into the final weeks of the legislative session. Although the process can be tiring, I will work diligently to ensure the most fiscally responsible course of action for our state.

I’d like to invite students age 12 – 18 to apply for the Senate Page Program. This unique program offers a first-hand look at the legislative process at the Georgia State Capitol. Senate Pages serve the Senators by delivering important information and other messages to the Senate Chamber throughout the legislative day. If you would like more information on becoming a Senate page, please contact my office and we will be glad to help you.

In the coming weeks, we will start closely reviewing and moving bills through the legislative process in the Senate.  Your feedback on these bills is integral to my work on your behalf, so please continue reaching out to personally discuss legislation with me. I take every phone call, email or office visit into consideration when casting my vote in the Senate chamber. Please do not hesitate to call or email me at any time. I am in office to serve you!