The first week of the session included five days of committee meetings and legislative debates at a pace more common in mid-session. But the Budget Week recess halts committee meetings and floor action. So, the multi-ring circus under the Gold Dome will have no other distractions going on, leaving members of the House and Senate appropriations committees unbroken time to concentrate on Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year.
The 61 representatives and 29 senators on the two committees -- more than one-third of the legislature -- will spend hours hearing testimony from the heads of every major state agency. Some will use it to ask pointed questions about statewide policy matters that concern them. Most of the committee members will consider the information from their constituents’ perspective.
“I’m looking to see what the governor is proposing for the Augusta-Richmond County area,” said Rep. Quincy Murphy, an Augusta Democrat who sits on the committee. “I feel very good about where Augusta is in the budget for 2013. Our job now will be to ensure that the governor’s package stays intact.”
Among the lawmakers not on the committee, the week is simply a break for some.
“It means a week off for me because I’m not on Appropriations,” said Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson.
For others, it means legislating in a different venue.
Sen. Hardie Davis, D-Augusta, and Sen. Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, plan to spend the week collaborating on a bill dealing with who gets notice of a foreclosure.
“We’ll be working to produce a good bill,” Davis said.