Carter makes his mark in State Senate - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Carter makes his mark in State Senate

Freshman Senator Joseph Carter Freshman Senator Joseph Carter
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Tifton-- A former Tift County Board of Education member is making a big impact at the state capital. Freshman Senator Joseph Carter has already been named to several leadership positions, and is now one of the major proponents of Governor Sonny Perdue's education reform package.

 The first half of Senator Joseph Carter's first term is going a lot better than he even expected. He says his passion is improving the state's education and his new appointments are helping him to be in a position to do just that.

Just weeks since he began his job as State Senator, Jospeh Carter has already made it to the public safety and homeland security commitee, deputy whip of the Republican caucus and vice-chair of the education committee.

Now he's helping the governor push through a new three-bill education reform. "This is a step in the direction of saying we want local communities to make the decisions that are best of their people and I think that's the right thing to do," said Carter.

Carter is second signor on Senate Bill 35. A piece of legislation that will give local systems flexibility on how they spend state money. "Georgia is one of the few states if not the only state that has expenditure controls for both programs and sites," Carter said.

"Historically we would send one hundred dollars down and say you must spend on this program and you must spend it at this school. This bill does away with some of those controls."

The bill also includes flexibility in class size at the local level, essentially setting a system-wide average number of students per class and allowing classes exceed that number by two students. "If we do not put this in place, the numbers suggest and I am confident that you would see massive property tax increases," Carter says.

The freshman senator is also working on some revisions to the Senate Bill Three, the new tort reform legislation signed into law last week. "We probably will not face another issue as hotly debated as this one," said the senator.

Now there will be a $350,000 cap on pain and suffering awards in medical malpractice suits. Carter says voting for the passage of the bill wasn't any decision. "As a lawyer, I sort of found myself between both sides of that issue because I understand what people were saying on both sides of the issue," he says.

Carter says he's certain the new law will be revised several times before the end of the session, but expects it to have a positive impact on the state in the long run.

Carter says he also wants to send a message to his fellow senators about the importance of agricultural education, so on Wednesday each of them will receive a one-pound bag of grits produced, packaged and marketed by students in Irwin County.

Carter says Senate Bill 35 will be debated on the floor Tuesday. He says he expects some ammendments to be made, but he's confident the entire education reform package will passed.

posted by dave.miller@walb.com