State Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, will hold the second position on the state and local government operations committee. The former Floyd County commissioner said he learned during his eight years on the board how cities, counties and the state interact.
“I hope I can be helpful, especially about not having the state government impose mandates on local governments,” he said. “Having been there, I know what kind of problems it can cause.”
Hufstetler, an anesthetist at Redmond Regional Medical Center, also drew assignments on the education and youth committee, the science and technology committee and the health and human services committee.
“That was the one I felt was most important to be on, because of our large medical community,” he said.
Hufstetler also received his office assignment, Suite 320A in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, although the phone is not yet set up.
The Georgia General Assembly typically starts out slow, but the state Senate immediately adopted a rule that caps lobbyist gifts at $100 per item — and another that allows for a vote on extending the tax on hospital revenue as early as Thursday.
The so-called 1.45-percent “bed tax” provides dedicated funds to leverage federal Medicaid money.
“All the hospitals have agreed to do it,” Hufstetler said. “It costs them about $250 million, but it brings in about $700 million. The Senate is going to get that done and out of the way.”
The state Senate was the target of criticism during the previous session for infighting that hampered its ability to get things done, but the chamber also moved to restore some of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s power to make committee appointments and schedule floor votes.
Hufstetler said the first day of the session bodes well for the remaining 39 days.
“I think a lot of people are working to make sure this is a productive senate,” he said. “Like the ethics rule; we’re not waiting for the House or the governor to take action. That went into effect at lunchtime.”
Hufstetler and state House Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Rome, took their oaths of office Monday along with 36 other new representatives and four new senators.
Lumsden was accompanied by his wife, Teresa. Hufstetler brought his wife, Joan, and children Caleb, Schell and Rebeckah.
“The whole House was full with family members and it was quite boisterous, but it was something we took very seriously,” Lumsden said.
The House leadership is expected to make committee and office assignments later this week.
Lumsden, another former Floyd County commissioner and a retired Georgia State Patrol trooper, said Monday was devoted mainly to formalities but he felt a sense of excitement and purpose on the floor.
“It’s something I’ve observed for many years but it’s different actually being part of the mix,” he said. “I’m looking forward to this.”
Morris News Service contributed to this report.