Reece & Associates Hosts Over 60 Legislators and Other Georgia Leaders at a Breakfast to Discuss the Need for a Statewide Trauma Network

On Thursday, January 8, 2004, Reece and Associates partnered with Porsche Cars North America, Progressive Insurance, Southeast Toyota Distributors (SET), Rescue Air 1, Builders Insurance Group and Atlanta Medical Center to assemble Georgia?s political leaders in an effort to call their attention to the need for a Statewide Trauma Network.  

The educational event was held at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot in Atlanta where Lieutenant Governor Mark Taylor, House Speaker Terry Coleman and Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson served as Honorary Chairs and addressed the group.  The large number of participants, over 250, included more than 60 legislators and other statewide constitutional officers such as Secretary of State Cathy Cox.  The feedback from the meeting and the synergism of ideas from the key speakers produced an overwhelmingly positive reaction accompanied by optimistic hopes for a strong push to fund and implement a coordinated network in the near future.  

Speaking on behalf of the State, Dr. Patrick O?Neal, State EMS Director, delivered a passionate call for increased funding and awareness.  He also updated the audience on where Georgia was in terms of trauma care and current initiatives.  Dr. Art Kellermann, Professor and Chair for the Department of Emergency Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, implored the legislators in attendance to champion the issue. Kiernan Moylan, Director & General Counsel of SET, also addressed the meeting on behalf of the sponsors, pledging their full support for the initiative.  

ABC News affiliate WSB-TV and the Atlanta Journal Constitution provided coverage of the event.  Click on the link below for a newspaper article about the event.

In 2001, there were over 1600 fatalities in Georgia due to Motor Vehicle crashes costing Georgia almost $8 billion.  A Statewide Trauma Network could ultimately reduce both costs and allow for effective medical care across the state.

If Georgia were simply brought up to the national average for deaths from traumatic injuries, more than 600 lives would be saved each year. A statewide trauma system would very likely bring Georgia above the national average.
2004 Legislative Session Opens

On Monday January 12th the Georgia Legislature convened the 2004 Session.  Political insiders expect that both the Democrats and Republicans will be much more organized in this year?s session, after both parties spent most of last year figuring out which end was up after the dramatic shift in power.  Although the talk at the beginning of this year?s session was consolatory, most expect that the session will produce some of the most partisan wrangling that Georgia has ever seen.  This should especially be true over cuts in the state budget.  

Despite their party differences Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson and House Speaker Terry Coleman have been working behind the scenes for months to coordinate the daily schedule at the capitol in hopes of ending the Session in a reasonable amount of time.  Senator Johnson has said that he expects this year?s 40-day session to conclude before ?the first game of the baseball season.?  
Reece & Associates Insights?Weekly Observations From Behind the Scenes

House Democrats Implement a Paradigm Shift

Democrats are still adapting to their new role in Georgia?s two party system that resulted from the surprise 2002 election of Georgia?s first Republican Governor and Republican Senate majority since reconstruction.  

Over the past decades, Georgia Democrats enjoyed control over all branches of government and thus had the ability to enact policies that they felt were in Georgia?s best interest without having to weigh the potential positive and negative political ramifications.  Democrats saw themselves as the altruistic guiding hand over the entire state.  All of that has changed.  In the months leading up to the Session, the House Democratic Caucus was far and above the most active group in the state that was reaching out to its political allies for support in the 2004 elections.  

Look for this continued focus on the 2004 election to enter into Speaker Terry Coleman?s leadership in the House of Representatives.   Democratic leaders will likely look more closely at the underlying politics surrounding issues than they have in the past.  As a result of the Democratic shift, Reece & Associates expects that the House will not pass a great deal of legislation this session.    
Georgia Legislative Session Kicks Off with Annual Wild Hog Supper

For 36 years on the night before the Georgia Legislative Session begins, Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin has hosted the Wild Hog Supper.  What began as a small formal affair for legislators and a few lobbyists has ballooned into a truly ?wild? event characterized by the frenzy of politicking taking place.  Now over one thousand people attend and many of the state?s political leaders are staying home.  Noticeably absent from this year?s event was Governor Sonny Perdue.    
Perdue Announces State Budget Plan

On Wednesday night in his State of the State address, Governor Sonny Perdue laid out a $16 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2005.  In it, he stuck to his pledge to leave out  tax increases while imposing a 5 percent spending reduction on most state agencies.  However, in a reversal of last year?s decision to cancel teacher pay raises, Perdue included an increase of 2 percent for teachers and government workers.

His $16 billion budget is based on a projection of 4.72 percent growth in revenues during the new fiscal year that starts July 1.

Political observers have noted that Perdue?s rhetoric on the state budget do not appear to be in line with his actions.  He apparently wants to be seen as a fiscal conservative, while still handing out pay raises to teachers, university system employees and other state employees.  Democrats have begun to also notice that many of Perdue?s fiscally conservative state budget policies will shift the tax burden onto local property taxpayers.    
Perdue Proposes Bond Package

Perdue included a $1 billion bond package in his FY 2005 budget package to pay for construction and repairs to state facilities; he intends for the bond expenditures to act as a stimulus for Georgia?s sluggish economy.
Georgia Chamber of Commerce Annual Eggs and Issues Breakfast

On Tuesday, February 13th, The Georgia Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Eggs and Issues breakfast.  Over two thousand business community representatives came to listen to the state?s leadership discuss their agendas for the 2004 Session.  Lieutenant Governor Mark Taylor used the platform to unveil his plan to fix the HOPE scholarship program by asking the Board of Regents to freeze college tuition increases for the next three years.  Governor Sonny Perdue and Speaker Coleman both pledged to focus on the issues paramount to Georgia families including the state?s budget.  In his brief speech, Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson showed off his strong oratory skills along with his wit when he compared the position of the Georgia leadership in 2003 to that of Enron?s Board of Directors.
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