This past week was a very exciting one at the Capitol. On Monday and Tuesday, elected officials and civic leaders gathered in Atlanta for Effingham Day at the Capitol. It was great seeing everyone from home at the Gold Dome!

Effingham Parkway Approved

Citizens were uplifted as the the Effingham legislative delegation revealed the funding plan to allocate $44 million for the construction of two new lanes from SR 30 to Blue Jay Road in Effingham County.  The new roadway, which will be called Effingham Parkway, would begin at SR 30 approximately 1.5 miles west of SR 21 and be located across from Chatham County’s proposed Benton Boulevard Extension project, ending at Blue Jay Road. A new intersection will be built at Effingham Parkway and Blue Jay Road. The Georgia Department of Transportation anticipates beginning buying right-of-way in spring/summer 2017 and construction in summer/winter 2018.

In addition, the delegation reaffirmed the state’s pledge of $6 million to complete construction of a new Diverging Diamond Interchange at the I-95 Bridge and SR 21 in Chatham County. That project is expected to begin in June 2016.

These projects are significant to Effingham County and to the state as a whole. With the continued growth of our ports, this upgraded infrastructure will help alleviate traffic congestion, improve safety and keep commerce in Georgia moving forward.

Amendment FY 2016 Budget Clears Committee

House Bill 750, better known as the Amended Fiscal Year 2016 Budget, cleared the House Appropriations Committee. With over $1 billion in additional revenue, the revised budget includes additional investments to support K-12 education, higher education, transportation, and healthcare. I was honored to serve as Chairman of the Committee of the Whole, presiding over the whole chamber, as this bill was presented to the House. HB 750 passed the House unanimously and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

General Assembly Honors the Georgia Guard

Last Monday, the House and Senate paused to honor our brave men and women in the Georgia National Guard. Under the bold leadership of Adjutant General Joe Jarrard, our guardsmen are trained to serve in the wake of natural disasters and labor overseas in the theatre of war. We are incredibly grateful for the Guard and their commitment to service.

As a part of the Georgia National Guard entourage, it was a pleasure to see friend and former Effingham County resident, Brigadier General Jesse T. Simmons, Jr. Brigadier General Simmons is commander of the Georgia Air National Guard and as such includes supervision and command of more than 2800 Georgia Air Guardsmen. It was also a pleasure to see Jesse’s wife, Mitzi, a former Ebenezer Middle School teacher.

Senator Isakson Visits the Capitol

The General Assembly also welcomed longtime United States Senator Johnny Isakson to the state Capitol. Senator Isakson is a committed public servant with a heart for our veterans. As the Chairman of both the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, our senior senator is doing his part to honor the commitment we have to our nation’s heroes while keeping those in government accountable and honest.

Georgia Trend’s Most Influential Georgians

Last week, I was excited to join statewide elected officials, business executives, and non-profit leaders for a banquet honoring Georgia’s Top 100 most influential Georgians. While I was humbled to be included in this year’s rankings and consider it a joy to serve as Majority Leader in the State House, my focus remains on District 159 and the people who sent me to Atlanta on their behalf.

As we work hard in the days ahead to finalize budgets, approve education and criminal justice reform measures, and pass legislation that keeps our economy growing, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail (Jon.Burns@House.Ga.Gov) or engage on Facebook (www.FB.com/JonBurnsGA) with your feedback. Working together, we keep our communities safe, prosperous, and strong!

Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly where he serves as the House Majority Leader.