On July 24th – it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for a strong leader who is prepared to be our state’s next CEO. As your state Senator, I want you to know that I’m 100% behind Casey Cagle for governor. I have served with him for 8 years in the Senate now and I am confident that he is the best choice on the ballot.
Casey is a proven, consistent leader who has always delivered for our state – as well as our community and North Georgia. Due to his leadership as Lt. Governor, Georgia has been named the number one state to do business for five straight years, and we’ve added nearly 700,000 jobs and 40,000 new businesses. This year, Casey was the leader who fought to deliver the largest tax cut in Georgia history.
Casey has also led to advance nationally renowned education reform measures – including the Charter Systems Act, College and Career Academy Network, and GA CATT apprenticeship program – which have been integral in transforming Georgia’s one-size-fits-all education system into a revolutionary model that puts students first. Not every student needs to get a four year liberal arts degree to be successful, and Casey is leading to prioritize workforce development so that all Georgia’s students graduate from high school with post-secondary experience or technical training that gives them the skills to attain rewarding careers.
Casey has stood up for our conservative principles his entire career. He has led to outlaw and defund sanctuary cities in Georgia, expand gun rights (earning him an A+ rating from the NRA), protect innocent life (earning him the Champion for Life award from the Georgia Life Alliance), and reform our adoption/foster care system to give faith-based organizations more opportunities to help children find loving homes.
Please join me in supporting Casey Cagle and voting to elect him as our next Governor on July 24th. I have been honored to serve as your Senator and I look forward to working with the next Governor to continue the progress we have made.
Getting Started in 2018
By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)
On Monday, January 8, 2018, we reconvened for the second session of the 154th Georgia General Assembly, which many anticipate will be very fast-paced. The Georgia Senate began our business with leadership changes and three new members. We will also welcome another new member next week who won a special election on Tuesday, January 9, 2018.
In addition to welcoming three new members, Sen. David Shafer, who served as the Senate President Pro Tempore since 2013, resigned his position and the Georgia Senate nominated and elected Sen. Butch Miller to serve in this role. Sen. Miller is a fellow North Georgian and we are honored to have him as our next Pro Temp. The Senate Committee on Assignments also announced chairmen and committee assignments for the upcoming year.
In addition to my duties as Senate Majority Whip, I will continue to serve as the Vice-Chair of the Transportation Committee, the Secretary of the Appropriations Committee, as a member of the Finance, MARTOC, Regulated Industries and Utilities committees and as ex-officio on the Senate Assignments and Rules committees.
As we draw near to the second week of session, we will begin budget hearings as we craft the Amended FY18 and General FY19 budgets. During these meetings and agency presentations, I will keep the prosperity of all Georgians in mind as we finely comb through proposals. Our focus will be on saving tax payers’ dollars while ensuring economic growth and job creation continues to grow in our great state.
Something new here at the Georgia Senate is livestreaming of standing committees that meet in one of the five rooms wired during the Senate Transparency Project. This is in addition to the Senate Chamber being livestreamed during session days. The goal of this project is to bring transparency to standing committee meetings, where legislation is discussed and vetted before moving forward in the legislative process. Another objective is to provide access to our process for those who do not live in the metro area and cannot get to Senate committee meetings quickly. I truly encourage you all to take the time to watch these livestreams. But, if you can’t get to a computer during the meeting time, each and every meeting video is archived to be watched during any time—day or night.
On day four of the session, Gov. Deal gave his last State of the State address. Within his address, Gov. Deal focused on the growth across the board within the state of Georgia. For the past five years, Georgia has been named the number one place to do business. Overall, we have a very busy session calendar ahead of us as we work on the Governor’s budget proposals, legislation pending from last year and other issues that may arise.
I would like to say thank you to all of my constituents for your encouragement and care for the 51st District of Georgia. Please call or email me with any questions, comments or concerns you have and I look forward to hearing from you.
Senate Gets Down to Business
By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)
Although the Senate was in session for only two days this week, my colleagues and I were very busy under the Gold Dome addressing budget proposals and a key piece of legislation on the Senate Floor.
The week started with Joint Senate and House Appropriations hearings on the Amended FY18 and General FY19 budgets. Governor Deal kicked off the hearings which included several different agencies presenting their budget proposals. I am happy to say that the state’s budget continues to be in good shape, with the General FY19 budget topping $26 billion for the first time. The General FY19 budget proposals were drafted with an estimated 2.9 percent state fund growth and around 3.8 percent tax revenue growth over the Amended FY18 revenue estimates. Included in the General FY19 budget are increases in funding for education and transportation.
The General FY19 budget addresses the needs for the state to meet determined employer contributions within the Teachers Retirement System with a proposed increase of around $364 million. Additionally, around $120 million would be appropriated for enrollment growth and training. Along with these positive changes in the General FY19 budget, an important proposal in the Amended FY18 budget is adding $15 million to purchase 194 school buses statewide. This will positively impact our students by ensuring that buses are not overcrowded.
The state’s growing need to address transportation infrastructure is also addressed in the General FY19 budget. An additional $31.6 million in projected revenues resulting from House Bill 170 – passed during the 2015 Legislation Session – will be added to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) budget. I am very happy to see that a piece of legislation we passed a couple of years ago is still making positive impacts for GDOT.
Along with attending the budget hearings and carefully reviewing the proposals for the Amended FY18 and General FY19 budgets, my colleagues and I took up a very important piece of legislation in Senate Chamber. On Thursday, the Senate passed the Supporting and Strengthening Families Act, also known as the Adoption Bill, or HB 159. This bill passed with bipartisan support and is now headed over to the House of Representatives for their review. Final passage of this legislation and a signature into law by the Governor would allow our state to update our adoption system which has been the same for nearly 30 years.
The Senate’s version of HB 159 clarifies many of the laws regarding who can adopt, who can act as a legal guardian and the rights held by the biological parents before and after giving their child up for adoption. Additionally, the version the Senate passed on Thursday states that if an agency is not involved in a private adoptive process, living expenses cannot be paid. The only expenses that can be paid in a private adoption are medical and counseling. These are just some of the highlights of the Senate version of HB 159. As this legislation moves through the legislative process, my colleagues and I will work with the Governor and House of Representatives to ensure there is cooperation to address concerns anyone may have. It is imperative that we pass this legislation so that we can assist the large number of children who are in foster care and need a loving and stable home.
The pace of the session is going to pick up quickly with standing committees beginning to hold meetings next week to vet legislation pending from last year along with new bills introduced this year. As we move forward in the session, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions, concerns and feedback. It is always great to hear from my constituents and our door is always open.
ATLANTA (January 29, 2018) | Senator Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega) is pleased to announce Monday, January 29, 2018, as Dahlonega Day at the state Capitol with Senate Resolution 590.
“Dahlonega is the gateway to North Georgia and I am grateful to be able to share my home with the rest of my colleagues,” said Sen. Gooch. “This year marks the 60th anniversary of Dahlonega and Lumpkin County citizens delivering gold, by wagon, for the installation of the state Capitol building’s gold dome. I could not be more proud to have representatives from our local community here today to celebrate this honor.”
The City of Dahlonega is a small city in northern Georgia founded in 1832. Dahlonega was the site of the first major U.S. gold rush and now is commonly referred to as the ‘Gold City’. The city sits at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is surrounded by many natural elements. Dahlonega is the county seat of Lumpkin County. In addition to its history of gold mining, the city of Dahlonega is also known as the Heart of Georgia Wine Country, with six wineries and nine winery tasting rooms.
Georgia Trend Names Sen. Steve Gooch One of Georgia’s Most Influential People
ATLANTA (January 8, 2018) | Senator Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega) was recognized as one of Georgia’s most influential people by Georgia Trend magazine. The magazine’s annual list recognizes the 100 Most Influential Georgians.
“It is an honor to be recognized among this distinguished list of leaders in our great state,” said Sen. Gooch. “I look forward to working with my colleagues and local community leaders to keep Georgia moving in the right direction. Over the past several years, we have seen numerous businesses moving to Georgia leading to additional economic growth and job creation. We will work hard during this upcoming session to continue this progress for our state.”
Georgia Trend recognized Sen. Gooch’s work in the Georgia Senate and his consistent efforts to improve education and public schools for children in his district and around the state. They also acknowledged his work on job creation, immigration, tax reform and the right to bear arms. Sen. Gooch has also been a leader for transportation in Georgia.
Georgia Trend releases their 100 Most Influential Georgians list annually. The list includes individuals who make a positive impact on the lives of Georgians and make decisions that affect the wellbeing of the state. Naming the top 100 is a year-round process and the final list includes those who “have exhibited the character necessary to inspire, challenge, lead – and influence us.”
Additional information can be found on the Georgia Trend magazine website link below:
This past Friday we continued our discussion about rural Georgia with 51st district (R) State Senator and Lumpkin County’s economic development director, Steve Gooch. Our three areas of focus: rural Georgia economy, broadband access, and health care. Although the district doesn’t want to see something in the line of the KIA plant they most certainly would be open to small companies offering high paying, high tech jobs. In order to attract these types of companies; the area must provide good schools, fast internet, and quality health care. We discussed Piedmont Mountainside new stand alone emergency health care center in Gilmer County; a model for quality health care in rural areas. When our discussion turned to high speed internet for the area, Gooch was unable to say they “moved the ball” concerning Senate Bill 232, Facilitating Internet Broadband Rural Expansion (FIBRE) Act.
Spoiling for a fight. The heated argument between the two city council members Angie Arp and Rhonda Thomas was well on its way before the meeting ever started. Arp obviously took issue with comments Thomas made the previous week concerning City Attorney David Syfan. Arp responded to Thomas’ comments through several early morning e-mails (e-mail text posted below). It reached a boiling point at last nights Blue Ridge City Council Meeting.
At the Blue Ridge City Council meeting on March 14th Councilwoman Angie Arp and Rhonda Thomas get into a heated argument. Arp addressed the council about recent comments concerning legal fees for the city of Blue Ridge. After showing her support for City Attorney David Syfan, Councilwoman Rhonda Thomas, took a different position than Arp’s concerning the legal costs. This resulted in a verbal fight between the two council members. It escalated to a point where council member Rodney Kendall yelled the point of order several times. Arp offered to Thomas to take it outside.
Sent: Sunday, March 12, 2017 3:24 AM
To: Donna Whitener; Rhonda Thomas
Subject: Re: Ada Street v. Blue Ridge – Ct. of Appeals Order Dismissing Appeal – IMPORTANT
My Dear Friends Donna and Rhonda,
How has your deceitful attacks and lies against me worked out for you so far? You LOST! Has it not hit either of you yet, that you have LOST every time you’ve gone against me and the council for that matter. Does it not get old always being on the losing side? Have either of you considered, you may just need to come to the realization that you are not going to ever win against me, no matter how dirty and deceitful you play. How long will you keep trying, it’s been almost four years now and your still getting your tail kicked. Where is the shame in that or better yet where is the pride in that. I like a challenge, but if I couldn’t do better than you’ve done, I believe I would wave the flag, pull may tail between my legs and go home.
I do have another question though, do you not find it odd that despite all your calculating, deceitful planning, orchestrated attempts and lying, you still have not been able to win at anything. Your attacks against me hasn’t effected me at all, except maybe gained me more favor, for being known as someone that don’t play the political game and certainly known as someone that don’t take no sh– from anyone or don’t care who you are or whether you like me or not.
Where is your elite group of supporters, none of you have been able to defeat me and now you’re all laying low, planning for one last attempt. Rhonda, as you have referred to confidently, a “new council” has it ever crossed your mind that you may not be part of the “new council”. Unless your luck changes and you can do something you haven’t been able to do in almost four years. If so, there may be a “new council”, if not, you lose again.
And Rhonda, I guess you’re eating crow right about now, I thought it was funny when an employee reminded me of the day you was in city hall, and so boldly and proudly quoted”Steve is going to win this lawsuit”. Now what do you have to say? Are you still going to strut into city hall, all confident and cocky, as if you’re somebody important? Rhonda Who? I’m curious, did you celebrate at the Black Sheep last night?
Joking aside, I really do hate that you both have cost the tax payers to date, $103,601 on this lawsuit, but one positive thing that may have came out of the lawsuit, is maybe at least it exposed the character of both of you, the trial certainly exposed that you were both not creditable witnesses, which is a polite way to say you’re not trustworthy. Even though you already had the reputation of having a “silver tongue”, and everyone knows about half of what comes out of your mouth, isn’t true, what the courts proved is different, because it involves tax payers money. Both of you went in to court for the sole purpose of lying to help your friend and you did it at the tax payers expense. Do you know how many people may have read the court transcript, and do you have any idea of what one could conclude after reading it?
And as for GMA, who knows what this has cost them. An attorney that has worked for GMA for 35 years said they have never seen elected officials testify for anyone that sued the city, ( the plaintiff) And he’s been around a long time and seen a lot. That says a lot about both of you and I’m sure you both have a really good reputation with GMA now. Donna, it doesn’t matter that you got on a board, due to the fact that no one else wanted to be on it, you will get courtesy, but you have no respect. Just a bug in your ear, for when you mingle at the next Mayor Conference, you have no idea what people really think of you. Just imagine if everyone is like you, untrustworthy, you’ll never know. I heard the rumor was you didn’t compare to the past mayors Blue Ridge has had. I can probably believe that some people may think that, I’ve even had people that actually supported you tell me that. Good grief I supported you and was saying that after about two years too.
Donna, I had hoped you had turned a new leaf, I heard someone at city hall say you said the most important thing in your life was your salvation, you told me that to. But all it takes is for someone to listen to you talk. Half of what you say still is not true, has it just become a bad habit? I have often wondered how you would answer God if he ask you where you lived when you served as mayor of Blue Ridge, what are you going to tell him? Are you going to say Lord, my home (domicile) is at Orvin Lance Drive, a two bedroom, one bath apartment above Town and County Furniture, where I live with 9 other people, but you’ve blessed me an investment property in Staurolite, so I stay there some too!
Its a good day and its good news, I’m just having a little fun with the facts , I was told I needed to get another hobby, other than increasing my portfolio, so maybe I have and maybe its’s beating both of you at your own game. I’ve actually done pretty good so far, don’t you think.
I’ve practically begged and pleaded with both of you, to put the personal aside, forgive and forget and try to get along, but you both seem to have no interest in that and both continue to wage war against me, you just continue to force me to do what I do best, and that’s WIN!
I still would love nothing more than to call a truce, but if you dont want to, I’ll continue to beat you at your own game.
Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2017 1:16 AM
To: Rodney Kendall; Bruce Pack; Harold Herndon; Rhonda Thomas; Donna Whitener
Cc: Sally Smith; Roy Parsons
Subject: City Attorney Attack
After speaking with several of you individually today about the attack on the city attorney made by Rhonda, I think this should go on the agenda to discuss and clarify at the meeting. We all have information from David that we could use to get the record straight as well. David has done a good job for the city and has represented the council well in a lawsuit that could have been over in a fraction of the time and a fraction of the cost, if it had not been for both Donna and Rhonda’s involvement, starting with an illegal veto.
The council made their decision and it should have been final, and that’s the root of the problem. They want their way as they had it in their first term, neither of them have any respect for the council, the authority of the council, the city attorney, the citizens of Blue Ridge or the tax payers money. There willingness to betray the city and the tax payers in an attempt to help their friends, speaks volumes. Quite frankly the attack on David and the untruthful statements made by Rhonda, frustrate me more than anything she has done toward me. I can handle anything she dishes out at me, but when she starts attacking others, it is disturbing.
We have 9 months to go in this term, lets make sure that this type of thing does not happen again, the majority of the council has all authority. We do not have to allow Donna, Rhonda or anyone tohinder the decisions of the council. We have a lot of things to accomplish in a short amount of time. Please support me in putting a stop to any further hindrances and tactics by either Donna or Rhonda. They have both caused turmoil, strife, and unproductiveness within the city, not to mention the shame brought upon the city for their actions. They have both failed to keep their oath to the people that elected them.
Lets remember the tactics they have attempted in order to defy the council and the tactics the will try in the council meetings in an attempt to promote themselves as the election grows closer. Our meetings are for the majority of the council to make decisions, lets remember our role and adhere to our policy. They will both try to use the meetings as a political chess piece, it will be up to us to keep these meetings in order and run by the policy.
It takes a motion and a second to discuss and if the discussion is not what we want to hear it takes a motion and a second for the council to vote to end discussion.
Let me know if any of you want this on the agenda.