Atlanta-- Georgia's Legislators went back to work Monday, but gone are the days of Democratic rule. The Republicans are now in charge.
With the bang of the gavel, the 2005 legislative session began, but with a new political party in charge. Republicans have control of the house, senate and the governor's office.
"That will mean more efficient government, with a concentration on kitchen table issues," said Rep. Ed Rynders of Lee County.
It didn't take them long to get down to business by electing new Speaker of the House, Glenn Richardson, a lawyer from Paulding County. "I have something that no Republican has had for 160 years. I thought I might be overcome with emotions," said Rep. Glenn Richardson, the new Speaker of the House.
It even surprised Richardson that many Democrats joined Republicans in the vote. He received 117 votes over 60 votes for Dubose Porter, who will be the House Minority leader.
Regardless of party, lawmakers say the focus will be on the issues that affect all Georgians. "Lower taxes, more efficient government, protecting traditional Georgia values," Rynders said.
"I need to do what the people of my district sent me here to do. That is to make sure their interests are heard, and that they have a voice in Atlanta," said one of the Democrats who held his seat, Rep. Winfred Dukes of Albany.
And now it will be up to South Georgia representatives to work together, Democrats and Republicans, for the people who have entrusted them to make good decisions for an important part of the state.
The house adopted new rules today that concerned committee assignments. The new speaker created a new committee to make committee assignments, and Democrats didn't like it. But to the victor goes the spoils, and they were powerless to stop Republicans.
One big change Republicans have made is that the work week won't start until 1:00PM on Mondays, giving lawmakers time to go to church with their families on Sunday and then head to the Capitol early Monday morning.