Last month the 2023 legislative session kicked off with plans to benefit Georgians in the new year and welcoming new faces to the Capitol to serve the people of Georgia. Jan. 9, 2023, brought forth new hope for progress on issues Georgians deal with every day.
Under the Golden Dome, legislative issues impacting rural Georgia cover a range of challenges impacting the entire state. One such topic that will receive attention this session is rural workforce housing. Gov. Kemp is recommending “to reallocate $35.7 million within OneGeorgia to establish the Rural Workforce Housing Fund,” according to the Governor’s Letter in the Governor’s Budget Report. The Rural Workforce Housing Fund aims to allow local governments to develop affordable housing for teachers and other workers, in hopes of increasing affordable housing opportunities and quality work for them as well.
With its wide-ranging importance, healthcare is back in the spotlight for this year’s session. Legislators will examine ways to expand the use of telehealth services in the state’s rural and poorer communities. This would include much-needed mental health services, as well as general preventive/wellness health services. With the House passing the Amended FY 2023 Budget, there will be $25,000 in funds for a rural hospital study and $56,000 for nursing program recruitment efforts in Southwest Georgia (Georgia Farm Bureau, Legislative Email 2023, week 3).
Education is another topic that will figure prominently for policy makers. Education legislation impacts rural Georgia significantly, as many of the poorer counties struggle with meeting basic requirements from testing to hiring teachers. Additional funding to schools is to be discussed and voted on to attempt to alleviate some of these issues.
Additionally, at the beginning of the session, Gov. Brian Kemp was reinstated as the state’s leader and Georgia welcomed a new commissioner of agriculture, Tyler Harper. Kemp and Harper are no strangers to rural Georgia. Kemp continues to promote the efforts needed to keep rural Georgia positioned to sustain more population and support the state’s largest industry - agriculture. Harper grew up in rural Georgia and understands both the assets and trials that come with living in these communities. The Rural Center looks forward to working with both of these leaders as well as members of the House and Senate to build healthy, vibrant rural Georgia communities with managed support and collaborative partnerships.
Rural Georgia is being recognized in many ways at the Capitol this year. Below are some dates that highlight commodities and organizations connected to and impacting rural Georgia.
February 6-7: Forestry Day at the Capitol
February 8: 4-H Day at the Capitol
February 14: Georgia Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol
February 21: Georgia FFA Day at the Capitol
March 1: PB&J Day
March 6: Georgia Cattleman's Steak Biscuit Day
March 15: Georgia’s Rural Center Co-Sponsored Rural Caucus Lunch