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Representative Gerald Greene convenes first meeting of the House Rural Development Council

Pictured are Mack Jackson, Representative Lynn Smith and Chairman Gerald Greene 

State Representative Gerald Greene (R-Cuthbert) recently convened the first meeting of the House Rural Development Council for the 2023-2024 legislative term at the Georgia Farm Bureau headquarters in Macon on Tuesday, August 29. Rep. Greene was named co-chair of the House Rural Development Council, along with State Representative Mack Jackson (D-Sandersville), by House Speaker Jon Burns (R-Newington) earlier this year.

“We had a great first meeting of this year’s House Rural Development Council in Macon and had a packed agenda that allowed us to explore a variety of topics that are important to rural Georgians,” said Rep. Greene. “Even though this council has been in place for a few years, the needs in our rural communities still persist. I am honored to lead this charge this legislative term to put good public policy in place that will help our rural communities thrive for years to come.”

At this meeting, members of the council heard comprehensive presentations from agency heads, state and local leaders and stakeholders on many issues that often affect rural Georgia.

The council received an update from the Georgia Farm Bureau on wildlife nuisances and the ways in which wildlife can inflict significant damage to agricultural producers across many commodities. The Farm Bureau reported that they are researching the impacts of wildlife nuisances across the state, as well as the economic burdens wildlife can cause for farmers. The Farm Bureau will explore ways the Georgia General Assembly can help alleviate the impact of white-tailed deer on the state’s agriculture industry.

Georgia’s agriculture commissioner Tyler Harper also presented to the council on behalf of Georgia’s Department of Agriculture. Commissioner Harper provided updates on yellow-legged hornets in Georgia, the expansion of the state’s hemp regulations, electric vehicle charger monitoring, as well as policy issues regarding soil amendments and conservation easements. The Department of Community Affairs provided the council with information regarding the OneGeorgia Authority and rural workforce housing initiatives. Finally, the Georgia Department of Labor presented on economic barriers in rural Georgia, including a declining workforce, population loss, lack of jobs, lack of trained workforce, uncertainty of health care and lack of access to capital.

The Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts’ state auditor’s presentation focused on emerging issues hindering local government access to state funds or grants. The state auditor shared that some local governments fail to submit required audited financial information to the department on time or at all due to local management or financial staff turnover. Local governments must submit audited financial information to the department annually, and noncompliance is directly tied to the receipt of state funds. The Department of Audits and Accounts outlined a plan to work with the legislature to refresh state laws to allow for simplified reporting to ease the burden on local governments and allow them to access funds that can improve their ability to complete local development projects.

The council will explore legislative solutions to these issues and others during the 2024 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly.

The House Rural Development Council was first created in 2017 to work with rural communities to find ways to encourage economic growth and job creation. During the 2023 legislative session, the council was renewed for the current term through the unanimous adoption of House Resolution 488.

More information about the House Rural Development Council may be found here:

Representative Greene represents the citizens of District 154, which includes Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Early, Miller, Quitman, Randolph and Seminole counties, as well as portions of Dougherty County. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1982 and currently serves as Chairman of the State Properties Committee and Vice Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Economic Development. He also serves on the Economic Development & Tourism, Public Safety and Homeland Security, Retirement, Rules, Special Rules and Urban Affairs committees.

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