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December 19, 2018 | Spotlight

Georgia lawmakers explore legislative agenda at 2018 Biennial Institute

Gov.-elect Brian Kemp addresses members of the Georgia General Assembly at the 31st Biennial Institute for Georgia Legislators, coordinated by the Institute of Government and held at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education.

Writer: Roger Nielsen

Institute of Government Director Laura Meadows, UGA President Jere W. Morehead, Lt. Gov.-elect Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston with keynote speaker Maria Taylor, a UGA grad and ESPN sports analyst.More than 200 members of the Georgia General Assembly attended policy presentations at the 31st Biennial Institute for Georgia Legislators, coordinated by the Institute of Government to help lawmakers prepare for the next legislative cycle.

The three-day event culminated with a luncheon speech by Gov.-elect Brian Kemp, who emphasized continuity and hard work to maintain Georgia’s prosperity. In his first opportunity to address members of the Georgia Senate and House of Representatives, Kemp said he will appoint a Georgians First Committee to provide private-sector input on ways to keep Georgia’s economy growing and will strive to promote public safety, strengthen education and expand health care — particularly in the state’s rural heartland.

“We all want what’s best for the families we serve,” he said. “We will create a lasting legacy of success when we put hardworking Georgians first.”

The Biennial began Dec. 9 with welcoming remarks from Institute of Government Director Laura Meadows, UGA President Jere W. Morehead, Speaker of the House David Ralston and Lt. Gov.-elect Geoff Duncan. Maria Taylor, an analyst and host with sports network ESPN and a UGA graduate, delivered the keynote address on leadership, drawing on her classroom experiences and sports career at Georgia.

Over the subsequent two days, the Biennial sessions explored a diverse set of state priorities, including rural economic development initiatives throughout the state, public-private workforce development programs and critical issues in healthcare. Legislators attended a number of informative policy sessions featuring panels of state agency executives, legislative committee chairs and experts from industry, business and universities. Additional speakers included University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve W. Wrigley and UGA political science professor Charles S. Bullock.

Almost all of the state’s 56 senators and 180 representatives attended the Biennial Institute, including 10 senators and 39 representatives who will begin serving their first terms in the legislature in January. As in past years, the 2018 Biennial offered the first opportunity following the elections for veteran and freshman legislators to come together as a group in advance of the legislative session, which begins Jan. 14.

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government, a UGA Public Service and Outreach unit, has coordinated the Biennial since its inception in 1958. The Biennial has always been held at the UGA Center for Continuing Education and Hotel, also a UGA public service and outreach unit.