ATLANTA — Excitement returns to the state Capitol on Monday as Georgia's Senate and House of Representatives will kick off their respective legislative sessions.
11Alive spoke with Democrats and Republicans at the 60th annual Wild Hog Supper, a fundraiser for the non-profit group Feeding Georgia. The lawmakers we spoke with expect to have their hands full in the coming weeks.
Hundreds of state legislators, lobbyists, and community leaders packed the inside of the Georgia Freight Demo Sunday for the big, kickoff event. Amid the entrees and fixings, those who won elections last November are now ready to sink their teeth into the key issues for the 2023 session.
“My priorities for the people of Gwinnett County and my district, 102, is to make sure we protect voting rights for everyone, to make sure we have access to healthcare, and to make sure that public schools are fully funded," said Rep-Elect Gabe Okoye, (D-Gwinnett).
Another legislator discussed what other important issues they will be bringing to the table in the new session.
“Helping the homeless out and trying to create environments will homeless will have a place to go, so that’s going to be a big bill. The second bill I have is the Child Protection Act that basically says we’re going to put it before schools that you can’t talk to a child about their gender until they reach the age of 16," said Sen. Carden Summer, (R-Cordele).
Some other topics expected to come up include crime and mental health.
“Besides getting a budget passed, my priorities are attempting to get rent control, some of rent control legislation passed, voting protection, and mental health, strengthening that area," said Rep-Elect Terry Cummings, (D-Gwinnett & Cobb).
Rep-Elect Reynaldo "Rey" Martinez (R-Gwinnett & Walton) is a part of the newly formed Georgia Hispanic Caucus.
“As far as the Governor, he’s coming down on some issues that’s dealing with crime. Anything that could keep my citizens safe, I’m all in favor of that. Also, some of the tax breaks that he’s going to do like of course, the gasoline tax and also the surplus that we have," Martinez said.
All of the elected officials who went to the event are expected to be members of their respective agriculture committees, and the state's incoming ag commissioner wants to ensure Georgia's farmers aren't overlooked under the gold dome.
“We're just working to make sure our family farms in our state are protected and that they have the resources they need to be successful but at the same time doing the things we need to do to keep prices low at the grocery stores," said Tyler Harper, commissioner-elect of the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
Both chambers will gavel in Monday, and the legislative session will run through March 30.
Some other bills lawmakers are expected to introduce include legalizing sports betting, changing how medical marijuana licenses are granted, and banning women from getting abortion-inducing drugs by mail.