All told, the five counties will be sending five state senators and seven House representatives to Atlanta when the Georgia General Assembly convenes Jan. 14.
All are members of the Republican majority, and all but three have accumulated some degree of seniority and clout.
New to the legislature this year are state Sen.-elect Chuck Hufstetler of Rome and state House Reps.-elect Eddie Lumsden of Armuchee — two of Floyd’s four delegates — and Trey Kelley of Cedartown who, with veteran state Sen. Bill Heath, represents the whole of Polk County.
- State Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, with six years under her belt, is the longest-serving member of Floyd’s delegation and the only one whose district is entirely within the county’s borders.
Dempsey currently is vice chair of the Appropriations and Higher Education committees and a member of four others — Rules, Economic Development and Tourism, Health and Human Services, and Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications.
There’s always some reshuffling when a new session starts.
This time, however, there’s an unusually large class of freshmen and several vacant chairmanships.
Dempsey said the House leadership is holding interviews next week with representatives interested in chairing committees.
“There’s a lot in play and decisions aren’t going to be made for a while,” she said. “But once that starts moving, everyone is sort of in the pot.”
Dempsey said she expects to remain on the Appropriations committee — in charge of the state budget — and wants to continue on the others.
“Those committees I serve on now are so important to our region,” she said.
- State Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, who first took office in 2011, holds second-place seniority in Floyd’s delegation.
His district includes part of Bartow, where he’ll serve with Kelley, Hufstetler, state Rep. Paul Battles and state Sen. Barry Loudermilk, who represented Floyd through 2012.
As one of Gov. Nathan Deal’s floor leaders in the House this year, Coomer will be moving from the Legislative Office Building to a plum spot inside the state Capitol. He said a series of meetings are scheduled next week to divide up the pieces of legislation the governor wants introduced.
“I think I’ll be carrying a workforce development bill,” he said. “It’s designed to get skilled laborers into the workplace faster than in other state, without compromising standards.”
The bill hasn’t been finalized yet, but Coomer said it’s an outgrowth of the Operation Workforce program that helps place military veterans.
“Making it easier for military families to stay in Georgia will be part of that jobs package as well,” he said.
Coomer, an attorney and Air Force Reservist, said he’s asked to stay on the Defense and Veterans Affairs and Judiciary Non-Civil committees.
- Hufstetler will represent all of Floyd in the state Senate. He’ll also be part of the Bartow delegation with Loudermilk, Battles and Kelley; the Chattooga delegation with state Sen. Jeff Mullis and Lumsden; and the Gordon delegation with state Sen. Charlie Bethel and state House Reps. John Meadows and Rick Jasperse.
He said he’s requested four committee assignments: Health and Human Services, Transportation, Finance and Appropriations.
“I feel fairly confident about Health and Human Services. The rest of them … I’ll have to wait and see,” the Redmond Regional Medical Center anesthetist said. “A lot of other senators have seniority.”
Hufstetler said there appears to be widespread agreement in the Senate to take up ethics reform early. He said tighter restrictions on lobbyist gifts may even be written into the Senate rules, to preclude a wait for the House to sign on to a formal bill.
“I would like to see it put in place on Day One and then move on, so we can get to the issues we need to address,” he said.
- Lumsden, a former Floyd County commissioner and retired Georgia State Patrol trooper who co-owns an insurance agency, will represent parts of Floyd and Chattooga counties.
He said he’s requested assignments to the Public Safety, Insurance and Economic Development committees because of his background.
“I also indicated I would be interested in Transportation, Education and Veterans Affairs since I also have knowledge of or experience in those areas as well,” he said.
Lumsden said he’s already attended a meeting arranged by Mullis with State School Superintendent John Barge and administrators from Northwest Georgia school systems. And he’ll be attending the Floyd County Board of Education meeting on Thursday.
“I am also reaching out to County Commissions and City Commissions from both counties in the 12th District to hear their concerns,” he said. “As a freshman legislator, I am focusing on learning the system and developing relationships with the leaders that can help get things accomplished for our district. It is a team effort.”