Legislators ready to work; but not for marijuana - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Legislators ready to work; but not for marijuana

(Source: Wiki Commons/Connor Carey) (Source: Wiki Commons/Connor Carey)

State lawmakers promise to accomplish more than their counterparts in Washington. The 2014 General Assembly session began Monday. State lawmakers under the Gold Dome hope you don't confuse them with Washington politicians.

As the General Assembly session begins, lawmakers say they're getting right to work.

"It's probably gonna be a really fast session." Said Democrat Sen. Freddie Powell Sims of Dawson This year's election calendar is moved up. Primaries will be held in May rather than July, so these lawmakers – all of whom are up for re-election – want to get their business done quickly.

Top priority: the budget. "We anticipate that we will be moving rather rapidly on the budget. The amended 14 will probably be dealt with in committee within the next week, and then we'll start working on the 15 budget," said Republican Rep. Jay Powell of Camilla.

There will be battles over the budget, always are. But a government shutdown or not passing a budget, that's not an option. "We know we've got a deadline, and to have a deadline makes us stick to it and get the job, and that's what the taxpayers want from us," said Republican Rep. Gerald Greene of Cuthbert.

And even though there will be partisan fights here in Atlanta, state lawmakers say they generally work together better than members of Congress. "I think there's more of a reaching across the aisle than say in Congress because, you know, we're closer to our constituency," Sims said.

And they have 39 more in-session days to prove that. South Georgia lawmakers don't think a medical marijuana debate will get very far this year at the state capitol.

House Speaker David Ralston ignited the debate last week when he said he would support looking into the legalization of marijuana for medical use in Georgia. But a couple of representatives from our area told us today they don't think that issue will get close to becoming law this session.

"It really hasn't even been on the radar screen, and for it to come up this year and pass straight through, I don't think there's any chance of that," said Republican Rep. Jay Roberts of Ocilla. "This being an election year, I doubt it will make much traction," said Republican Rep. Mike Cheokas of Americus.

Senate President Pro Temp David Shaefer also said, like Ralston, he would support studying the issue, but both are adamant they have no interest in discussing legalizing marijuana for recreational use.


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