At the same time, the General Assembly formally organizes its committees this week, and the governor and legislative leaders will be unveiling their major goals for the 2011 session.
Topping the list is a proposal to further restrict illegal immigration. Lawmakers have been meeting for months since the previous session to draft a bill similar to Arizona’s that permits local police officers to stop anyone they suspect of being in the country without a visa. The bill is also likely to prohibit admission to the state’s public colleges to undocumented immigrants.
“House and Senate leadership is committed to strengthening Georgia’s laws as they pertain to ensuring a legal workforce, pro-
tecting public benefits for eligible recipients, and supporting law enforcement in efforts to remove illegal aliens who are serving time in local jails,” said Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers of Woodstock.
The father of freshman Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, is set to serve as Chaplain of the Day when the House convenes today.
The Rev. Kenneth Coomer, pastor of Adairsville Church of God, will offer the morning devotion at the start of the session.
Legislators have an opportunity to suggest a chaplain, but Rep. Coomer said he’s especially pleased and honored his father was chosen.
“They told us ‘there’s 180 representatives and only 40 days in the session, so don’t be upset if your pastor isn’t picked right away,’” he said.
Gov. Nathan Deal, House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle will outline their legislative agendas Tuesday morning at a breakfast hosted by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. Typically, major announcements come out of that annual Eggs & Issues breakfast, this year’s delayed two weeks because of the snowstorm.
Rogers said the leaders in the Senate will roll out their agenda soon, too.
Deal could bring out additional legislative initiatives when he addresses meetings of the state’s city officials, the sheriffs and business executives during the week.
Little formal business is expected on the House and Senate floors other than honoring beauty queens and champion high school athletes. That’s because each committee must meet to adopt its rules and assign subcommittees.
A fraction of the 1,500 bills considered each session have been introduced so far.
The one committee that’s already got major legislation on its plate is the House Appropriations Committee. This week, its eight subcommittees will dive into the details of the governor’s recommended adjustment to the current year’s budget.
Rogers predicted the Senate won’t be a bystander.
“We will have an even better working relationship with House appropriators this session. Senators will begin working with House members from the very start,” he said. “This new cooperation will help smooth a very difficult budget process.”