ACEC Georgia's Political Pulse e-newsletter is intended to provide a monthly update of what's going on at the local, state and federal government levels that might have an impact on our industry and/or your business. This Political Pulse covers a completely different part of the political world than the Georgia General Assembly we provide in our longstanding, weekly Capitol Update during the legislative session.
Here's what you need to know...
STUDY COMMITTEE UPDATES
THE HOUSE TRANSIT GOVERNANCE AND FUNDING COMMISSION
Recently, we attended this year's second meeting of the House Transit Governance and Funding Commission. There were panels presented on state-level rural transit programs and regional planning and community needs. The consensus from the Georgia Department of Transportation, Department of Human Services and Department of Community Health is that the different qualifications and requirements each entity has to meet in order to receive funding results in a decline in efficiency and cost effectiveness. All parties agreed to look for ways to better coordinate overlapping programs and eliminate redundancies. Chairman Tanner challenged all parties to submit a list of federal-level barriers and ideas on what the Georgia General Assembly could do to help. Those results and more will be presented at the next meeting, which has not been scheduled at this time, but is likely to be held in Dublin, Ga.
THE HOUSE PROFESSIONAL LICENSING BOARDS OPERATIONS AND FUNDING STUDY COMMITTEE
The House Professional Licensing Boards Operations and Funding study committee held its first meeting on Monday, September 27. The Georgia Occupational Regulatory Review Council (GORCC), which is responsible for reviewing each professional licensing board every seven years, admitted to not having had the ability to conduct the full extent of those reviews, due to legislative restrictions on who can serve on the Council. They asked for some flexibility on who can conduct the reviews and for more time between each review. The Professional Licensing Boards Division of the Secretary of State's (SOS) Office also presented that morning and reported that even with accountancy, pharmacy and dental boards being moved out of the SOS Office, they still receive over 650,000 applications each year and issue more than 300,000 licenses. They explained that while they do share staff between multiple boards, they have divided the seven executive directors they have into three health profession groups and four trade groups, so that there are some similarities in the subject matters among the boards that each executive director and their staffs work with. They also expressed some warning about a licensing board leaving the SOS to go to another agency without realizing that there are unforeseen costs in such a move, as well as a loss of economies of scale (including back office savings on things such as administrative software and accounting).
The committee members seemed to be interested in a few other topics, including the handling of complaints, especially those of a criminal nature. Several committee members expressed concerns that the current process does not require any notification to local authorities for criminal complaints made to a licensing board. That decision is left to the individual licensing board for that profession.
The next meeting has not been scheduled at this time. However, the agenda for the next meeting will include testimony from the professional trades licensed in in the SOS Office. ACEC Georgia will definitely be at the head of the line to testify and we will be reaching out to our members for your testimonials on experiences you have had in dealing with the PELS staff in the SOS Office (particularly as it relates to violations that jeopardize public safety, complaints that were never resolved, as well as more customer service-oriented complaints).
We have meet with several members of the Georgia Congressional delegation in the past month during the abbreviated August break to express our thanks and support for all the work they do. Darrell Rochester (Rochester & Associates) and Eddie Williams (Keck & Wood) joined us in Gainesville, Ga. for a lunch with Congressman Doug Collins and special guest speaker, Congressman Steve Scalise. Congressman Scalise told the moving tale of his near-fatal shooting at the Congressional softball practice in 2017, and of the teamwork and sacrifice that the Capitol Police force showed during that attack. Congressman Scalise says he still supports the Second Amendment unwaveringly, since he was ultimately saved by people carrying guns.
If you braved the storms and traffic that were swirling around on the night of our Annual Legislative Reception at the Commerce Club, you were able to meet with Congressmen Barry Loudermilk and Rob Woodall and see them compete for best speech to the crowd. We were honored that each of them stayed for the entirety of the reception to speak one-on-one to all of those in attendance.
We also had the distinct honor of meeting with Georgia's senior United States Senator, Johnny Isakson in his Cobb County office to discuss the latest developments from our nation's Capital. It is always a treat to meet with Sen. Isakson, as there is nothing going on in Washington DC that he doesn't know backwards and forwards.
Jay Wolverton (Wolverton) and ACEC Georgia's Director of Government Affairs, Jennifer Larosa, were able to have lunch with Congressman Drew Ferguson and his chief of staff, Bobby Saparow earlier this week. Many topics were discussed, including mining tariffs and the effect they have on the agricultural industry in Georgia. Congressman Ferguson mentioned that those affected in Georgia, although they see a slight decrease in net profit, have been very accepting of the tariff, believing that it is best for the long-term results. They also enjoyed an in-depth conversation about grilling and Congressman Ferguson's desire to have a grill "on the hill" for all to enjoy his favorite pastime.
We also have upcoming meetings scheduled with Congressmen Buddy Carter and Tom Graves this week. As an ACEC Georgia PAC Leadership Circle contributor, keep an eye out for opportunities to attend meetings and fundraisers like these for elected officials at every level of government - which also offer an opportunity to create relationships that are beneficial to your firm and your bottom line.
Finally, we are also happy to be hosting our new ACEC National President and CEO, Linda Darr at the ACEC Georgia office, one of only four regional stops on her nationwide listening tour to hear from ACEC members around the country on how ACEC could become even more valuable. These meetings will give Sully and the other Executive Directors an great opportunity to share what is working well and where there are opportunities to take ACEC from good to great.
As a reminder, all of this work on behalf of the business of engineering would not have been nearly as successful without the contributions Member Firms and individuals have made into our State Political Action Committee (PAC) over the years. The fees paid by ACEC Georgia members into the State PAC are distributed strategically and with much care and thought.
The State PAC differs from the ACEC Federal PAC in a few ways. First, the State PAC is funded by corporate contributions via a set index amount charged with your quarterly member dues, whereas the Federal PAC is funded by individual contributions by employees of ACEC Georgia member firms. The State PAC makes political contributions to state and local level elected officials, while the Federal PAC makes contributions to U.S. senators and congressmen. Each are truly important in their own way. ACEC Georgia has and will continue to work hard to ensure that our PAC dollars are put to work for you and your business interests.
There are a few ways to support Georgia's PAC efforts. Members can give directly to either PAC at any time, as well as attend functions in support of fundraising efforts. Here are a couple of important events coming up soon:
- September 19: Georgia Republican Senatorial Committee Braves Fundraiser
- September 21: ACEC Georgia PAC Golf Tournament
If you want to attend either of these or have any questions, reach out to Jennifer Larosa at Jennifer.Larosa@acecga.org.