Lawmakers ready for business

ATLANTA, Ga. --- The 2008 Georgia General Assembly kicks off Monday, and legislators are reconnecting with colleagues and setting their agendas for changes in the law and how to allocate taxpayers' money. But they're not the only ones who can engage in Georgia politics.

The session will provide plenty of issues for residents to contact their state leaders about -- and residents now have easy ways to follow the legislative process.

"I would suggest the Web site, for starters," said Robert Rivers, the clerk of the Georgia House of Representatives.

The General Assembly Web site, www.legis.state.ga.us is the best way to track what's happening, Mr. Rivers said.

Web site users can find state representatives and senators, along with their telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. They can also stay up to date on what bills and resolutions the legislators have introduced and where the measures stand in the committee process that leads to eventual passage or failure.

The site contains General Assembly records dating back to 1995, said Bob Ewing, the secretary of the Senate.

Internet users can also watch live debates on the House floor, a feature offered since 2003, Mr. Ewing said.

The Web site search option for users, though, isn't quite satisfactory, he said, "but we are working steadfastly to improve that."

Mr. Ewing also is working on creating a video history of the Senate, consisting of candid conversations with senators from the past years and decades.

One video already is online, with two more on the way soon, said Mr. Ewing, who also is making the children's Senate page more interactive.

Recently, Sen. Regina Thomas, D-Savannah, started her own Web site, www.SenatorReginaThomas.com, to help her constituents better follow the Legislature, according to a news release. It's similar to what many lawmakers have done separate from their official page on the state site.

On her Web site, Ms. Thomas will include information on her committees, an events page, census information about her 2nd Senate District and links to helpful state and federal resources. Weekly updates of General Assembly business also will appear on the site.

Ms. Thomas will be able to receive questions or concerns directly from site users, according to the news release.

If you're curious for a first-hand look, official Capitol tours are available during the week to groups of as many as 50 people at a time, according to www.sos.ga.gov, the Georgia Secretary of State's Web site.

Tourists can see lawmakers discuss and debate legislation and sight-see around The Georgia Museum for state history.

About eight tours are given each day during the legislative session, said Matt Carrothers, the director of media relations for Secretary of State Karen Handel. About 60,000 people took tours in 2007, Mr. Carrothers said.

Older groups, he said, enjoy watching the Legislature in session from the overlooking gallery. School groups often go for the Miss Freedom display on the fourth floor.

Visitors can also explore the building on their own, which is what Florence Beauredon, and her mother, Roselyne Beauredon, did last week.

"We like history," said Florence Beauredon, who visited the Capitol because she wanted some reminders of Georgia's colorful past.

"It's quiet," she said during her visit before the session cranked up. "You learn something. It's beautiful."

2008 GEORGIA LEGISLATURE CONTACT LIST

(Richmond, Columbia, Burke, McDuffie, Jefferson, Glascock, Warren, Lincoln, Wilkes, Taliaferro counties)

SENATORS:

JOHNNY GRANT (DISTRICT 25)
johnny.grant@senate.ga.gov
P.O. Box 1458
Milledgeville 31059-1458
Home Phone: (478) 452-1427
Office Phone: (404) 656-0082
321-A Legislative Office Building

J.B. POWELL (DISTRICT 23)
jb.powell@senate.ga.gov
228 Church St.
Blythe 30805
Home Phone: (706) 592-9911
Office Phone: (404) 463-1314
320-A Legislative Office Building

ED TARVER (DISTRICT 22)
ed.tarver@senate.ga.gov
P.O. Box 15473
Augusta 30919
Home Phone: (706) 828-6990
Office Phone: (404) 656-0340
313-B Legislative Office Building

BILL JACKSON (DISTRICT 24)
bill.jackson@senate.ga.gov
P.O. Box 528
Appling, Ga. 30802
Office Phone: (404) 656-5114
Home (706) 722-6804
319-A Legislative Office Building

HOUSE REPS:
JON BURNS (DISTRICT 157)
jon.burns@house.ga.gov
5829 Clyo-Kildare Road
Newington 30446
Home Phone: (912) 754-3439
Office Phone: (404) 656-0213
508 Legislative Office Building

MICKEY CHANNELL (DISTRICT 116)
mickey.channell@house.ga.gov
P.O. Box 839
Greensboro 30642
Home Phone: (706) 453-1230
Office Phone: (404) 656-0298
608 Legislative Office Building

HARDIE DAVIS (DISTRICT 122)
hardie.davis@house.ga.gov
P.O. Box 235
Greenwood 30812
Home Phone: (706) 434-8553
Office Phone: (404) 656-0325
612-E Legislative Office Building

BARRY FLEMING (DISTRICT 117)
bfleming@legis.state.ga.us
170 West Forrest Street
Harlem 30814
Home Phone: (706) 556-3816
Office Phone: (404) 656-5024
415 Capitol Building

GLORIA FRAZIER (DISTRICT 123)
gloria.frazier@house.ga.gov
P.O. Box 207
Gracewood 30812
Home Phone: (706) 560-9709
Office Phone: (404) 656-0274
604 Legislative Office Building

BEN HARBIN (DISTRICT 118)
bharbin@legis.state.ga.us
4571-A Cox Road
Evans 30809
Home Phone: (706) 869-1953
Office Phone: (404) 463-2247
245 Capitol Building

WAYNE HOWARD (DISTRICT 121)
2514 Pate Ave.
Augusta 30906
Home Phone: (706) 793-8244
Office Phone: (404) 656-0287
607 Legislative Office Building

SISTIE HUDSON (DISTRICT 124)
sistiehudson@aol.com
P.O. Box 58
Sparta 31087
Home Phone: (706) 444-7247
Office Phone: (404) 656-7859
512 Legislative Office Building

JIMMY LORD (DISTRICT 142)
jimmy.lord@house.ga.gov
P.O. Box 254
Sandersville 31082
Home Phone: (478) 552-5937
Office Phone: (404) 656-7859
512 Legislative Office Building

QUINCY MURPHY (DISTRICT 120)
qmurphy@legis.state.ga.us
3238 Peach Orchard Road
Augusta 30909
Home Phone: (706) 863-0532
Office Phone: (404) 656-0265
604 Legislative Office Building

BARBARA SIMS (DISTRICT 119)
barbara.sims@house.ga.gov
P.O. Box 212176
Augusta 30917
Home Phone: (706) 481-9591
Office Phone: (404) 656-0109
404 Legislative Office Building