Jeff Jones

State Rep. Jeff Jones, R-St. Simons Island, walks along the annual Veterans Day parade route on St. Simons in November.

Committees in the General Assembly kick into gear today and are getting up to speed for the 2019 session, with Glynn County’s legislative delegation asked to serve on a number of committees handling a sizable portion of this year’s legislation.

State Rep. Jeff Jones, R-St. Simons Island, also received an appointment to House Majority Whip Trey Kelley’s deputy whip team. This group of 11 House Republicans assist in monitoring bills, and whip teams traditionally help try to swing votes toward the preferred direction of the leadership.

“My selection to seven House committees, which was unexpected, shows the confidence the speaker (of the House, David Ralston,) has in me,” Jones said. “It also shows that I’ve earned the trust of our House leadership team.”

Kelley, R-Cedartown, said in a statement he was excited to have Jones on the team.

“Rep. Jones’ life experiences as a successful small business owner and his dedication to Coastal Georgia make him a tremendous asset to our whip team as we serve Speaker Ralston, the majority caucus and the state of Georgia,” Kelley said.

Jones is a vice-chairman of the House committees on Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications; Motor Vehicles; and Regulated Industries. He’ll also serve as a member on the House Committees on Insurance, Interstate Cooperation, Science and Technology, and Small Business.

“By playing a leadership role on these committees as vice chair, I will have a more direct hand in shaping legislation and promoting ideas that are important for our district, Southeast Georgia and the entire state, more so than just as a committee member,” Jones said. “Procedurally, I will run the committee meeting in the absence of the chair, and will have the opportunity to confer with the chair on testimony on bills.”

As vice-chairman of the House Motor Vehicles Committee, Jones said he hopes to pass legislation to change the type of driver’s licenses issued to those unauthorized to reside in the United States. He said it would doubly improve voter ID security.

State Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak, will be chairman of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and the Senate Appropriations Judicial Subcommittee, along with vice-chairman of the Senate committees on Ethics, and Reapportionment and Redistricting. He is also serving as a member on the Senate committees on Appropriations, Health and Human Services, and the Judiciary.

“I’m grateful for the confidence that the Senate leadership has placed in me to once again chair the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and the Senate Appropriations Judicial Subcommittee,” Ligon said. “In addition, my other committee assignments are the same as I held during the previous General Assembly. Due to the fact that I will be serving in these same capacities, I can bring more experience to bear on the issues presented in these committees.

“The top issue that we will deal with on the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee will be to correct a (state) Court of Appeals decision which allows guarantors to verbally cancel a written loan guarantee. This decision will lead to more litigation if we do not take action to correct it. Therefore, we will begin to address this issue immediately.”

Ligon said his position on Appropriations provides opportunities to bring influence for Southeast Georgia for local projects.

“We’ve seen that with some of the funding that has already been secured in past few years,” Ligon said. “It also allows me to work to contain costs in the budget, especially in my area of responsibility as chair of the Senate Appropriations Judicial Subcommittee. For example, last year, the (state) judiciary asked for a substantial increase in its budget due to the need for staff attorneys.

“What I worked out instead was a creative solution so that an intern program could be established. Not only could recent law school graduates fill the need for the judiciary and gain valuable work experience, we also were about to save taxpayers at least $1 million with this creative approach.”

State Rep. Don Hogan, R-St. Simons Island, is serving on the House committees for Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, Economic Development and Tourism, Health and Human Services, Information and Audits, and Natural Resources and Environment.

Hogan said he feels he got the committees he asked for, and thinks he can get some things done in Natural Resources.

“I was on that committee the last two years, and that’s a real important committee and it relates to a lot of things in our coastal area,” Hogan said. “I’m looking forward to working with that, and looking forward to sponsoring some legislation that affects our coast.

“And then, I’ve got Agriculture, and I come from a farm background, and I still farm, so I asked to get on the agricultural committee. With the damage that we’ve had over in West Georgia with Michael, the hurricane, I think we’ll maybe possibly look at some more legislation in that area to try to help out those farmers, because they were devastated.”

He added that the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee has a direct relationship to Glynn County, and that he’s working on legislation on mental health that will likely get heard in the House Health and Human Services Committee.

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