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Census important for Georgia, Liberty County

Legislative update

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POSTED: April 14, 2010 11:18 a.m.
This year, the federal government is conducting the 2010 Census. The Census is a count of everyone residing in the United States. All U.S. residents must be counted, including citizens and non-citizens.
The Census is important for a number of reasons. It will determine state population counts and determine representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as boundaries for state and local legislative and congressional districts. Census data also guides planning for new hospitals, roads, job training centers, schools and other programs essential to communities.
Your participation is particularly important in this year’s Census. Georgia is poised to pick up one or two congressional seats, expanding our representation in Congress. It is also vital for residents of Liberty County to be counted in the 2010 Census. Estimates show that between 2000 and 2008, our county experienced a population loss of 2,950 — by far the largest decrease in any of Georgia’s 159 counties.
In the 2000 Census, Liberty County’s response rate was only 55 percent, compared with the national response rate of 67 percent and the Georgia response rate of 65 percent.
You should have received your Census questionnaire by mail sometime last month. If you do not receive a questionnaire, you will be able to pick one up from several public sites. Households should complete and mail back questionnaires upon receipt. Households that do not respond may receive a replacement questionnaire in April. Census takers will visit homes that do not return questionnaires to take a count in person.
I encourage everyone to participate in the 2010 Census. It is critically important and only takes a few minutes. For more information, visit www.Census.georgia.gov.
School bullying: The House of Representatives voted March 30 to approve legislation that would require school officials to notify parents when their child is involved as either the victim or instigator of bullying. Under an amended version of SB 250, the state Department of Education would have until January to develop an anti-bullying policy that can serve as a model for local school systems. The measure passed as an amendment to legislation dealing with disruptive behavior on school buses. SB 250 now goes back to the Senate for final action.
In other action taken prior to the general assembly’s Easter recess, House members approved:
• SB 206, which would require the Department of Audits and Accounts to conduct a yearly review of the financial impact of tax breaks and exemptions on the state budget and provide a report to the governor’s Office of Planning and Budget for inclusion in his annual budget report. SB 206 goes back to the Senate for final approval of House changes to the bill.
• SB 319, which would expand the definition of textbooks to include computer hardware and technical equipment to support the use of non-printed or digital content.
• SB 341, which would require recipients of the $500 HOPE Scholarship voucher — awarded to high school dropouts who obtain their GED and want to continue their studies — to have lived in Georgia for at least 12 months. The bill now goes to the governor for his signature.
Educator honored: On April 1, I had the pleasure of introducing Liberty County High School entrepreneurship teacher Yvonne Lambert, who was recognized by House members as the third teacher to carry on an outstanding entrepreneurship program started in 1995. All three teachers were participants at National Entrepreneurship Teacher Training Institutes. The program is blessed to have been under the supervision of two outstanding school principals who offered continuous support. The original teacher, Don Melton, started the first class in September 1995, and after several years he organized what he called the Water Company in 2002, a school-based enterprise. The Heritage Bank and Mills Creek Foundation provided the resources to make the Water Company implementation possible. I wish to take this opportunity to thank these corporate citizens, whose strong involvement in the community is a highlight of this entrepreneurship education program and an integral part of Liberty County becoming an “entrepreneur-friendly” county.
Health-care legislation: On March 22, House Democrats defeated HR 1086, which would have changed the state Constitution to allow Georgia to opt out of federal health care reform legislation recently approved by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. This resolution is nothing more than partisan political posturing and demagoguery at its worst, along with a separate proposal (HR 1866) to impeach Attorney General Thurbert Baker because of his decision not to waste tax dollars on suing the federal government over the health care law. If Georgia Democrats had been this petty during the past eight years whenever we disagreed with policy decisions, we would have attempted to impeach Gov. Perdue many times.

Williams represents the 165th District (Liberty County) in the Georgia House of Representatives. Contact him during the legislative session at 511 Coverdell Office Building, Atlanta, Ga., 30334; by phone at 404-656-6372; or by e-mail at al.williams@house.ga.gov.

 

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