Earlier today, House Speaker David Ralston (R- 7 Blue Ridge) spoke at the Atlanta Press Club on a number of issues as the legislative session heads into its home stretch. After a busy Crossover Day in which the House passed a whopping 70 bills, Ralston appeared at the APC’s Newsmaker Luncheon series and touched on some of those bills, as well as ongoing issues and priorities and some of what he is watching in Washington D.C.

Ralston began his talk by going over some of the state’s (and its leadership’s) accomplishments over the past few years. Georgia has been named the top state in which to do business for four straight years thanks to, in Ralston’s view, a business friendly tax and regulation environment. One of Ralston’s focuses going forward is making sure that rural Georgia begins to reap some of the growth that metro Atlanta and some of the other areas around the state has seen. He said his core principle, and what everyone’s core principle should be, is “every place in Georgia in order to succeed needs every other place in Georgia to succeed.” Ralston says we are way past the time of two Georgia’s.

Ralston is concerned though about rural Georgia. “The bright light of economic growth is not shining on every part of the state,” said Ralston. Rural areas need a focus on economic development, healthcare and education. It cannot be overlooked that one of Georgia’s most important businesses is still Agribusiness. To these ends, Ralston will be forming a House Rural Development Council (via House Resolution 389), headed by Representative Sam Watson (R- 172 Moultrie) and co-chairs Reps. Terry England (R- 116 Auburn) and Jay Powell (R- 171 Camilla). Ralston said he will name 12 other members of the council by April. This committee will not be the typical study committee which meets in the Capitol and is rarely heard from. Ralston says they will be going all around the state with the mission to hear directly from locals to improve rural areas on a variety of issues. 

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