ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Georgia lawmakers will consider different bills in the upcoming legislative session that will focus on improving rural areas.
"It is something that is very troubling. How do we take care of rural Georgia?" asked State Sen. Freddie Powell Sims of Dawson, who has served on a Senate study committee focused on meeting the needs of small cities and towns throughout 2017.
The Senate Study Committee on Rural Georgia has traveled around the state talking with citizens and leader to try to answer that question over the past several months.
Sen. Powell Sims and her colleagues on the committee have now come up with proposals they will take to the General Assembly.
"There's such good living in our rural communities," she explained.
However, she said that one thing needs to be done to create a domino effect for rural areas -- educating students, holistically.
"Not just reading writing and math, but give them portable skills that they can take with them from one job to another," said Powell Sims.
Lawmakers will also take a look at rural healthcare.
"The healthcare issue is quite a dire need for those individuals that live 30, 40 miles from the nearest hospital," said the lawmaker.
These are just some of the ideas that members of this study committee will take to the floor during the 2018 session to help create positive change in our rural communities.
Powell Sims said the committee believes without far-reaching services and an educated population, rural communities will continue to decline.
"Then, you're not going to be able to entice people to come to your area to build, to stay, even to grow," she said.
The State House of Representatives had its own group focus on rural areas this year as well. Read the House of Representatives Rural Development Council's recommendations here.
The 2018 Georgia General Assembly convenes January 8 at 10 a.m.