Class of 2024 Government Day Recap Sponsored By SRP Federal Credit Union

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Leadership Augusta's Government Day, held on February 21st, embarked on an insightful and engaging journey from Augusta to Atlanta, converging at the Georgia State Capitol to connect with local and state legislators. The day, skillfully coordinated by Emilee Heise and led by day chairs Ryan Mahoney and Sean Mooney and class chairs Stephen King, and Al Dallas, promised a deep dive into legislative proceedings and key issues shaping the state. The team's rendezvous commenced at the convenient and graciously offered parking space at First Baptist Church of Augusta, setting a positive tone for the day ahead. The agenda was meticulously crafted, promising a rich blend of educational sessions, legislative interactions, and an exclusive look into the workings of the State Capitol.

During the bus ride:

1)    Day chairs offered valuable historical insights into the state's history, shedding light on the intricacies of state capital processes. Their expertise extended to engaging quizzes, providing a dynamic and interactive learning experience for participants. Through these quizzes, team members had the opportunity to test their knowledge of state government and its various departments, fostering a deeper understanding of the structures that govern our state. The informative session not only enriched the team's historical awareness but also offered a glimpse into the intricate workings of state departments, contributing to a comprehensive learning experience.

2)    Several team projects were highlighted on the bus ride, with particular attention gravitating towards the Augusta Passenger Rail complex long-term project led by Dr. Marc Austin and supported by Darryl Jordan. The project not only piqued interest but also sparked a series of engaging questions during the lunch session. Throughout the day, the legislative body provided intriguing responses, shedding light on the intricate processes involved in obtaining approval at the local, state, and federal levels. The complexities discussed highlighted the multifaceted nature of navigating approval pathways, underlining the challenges and considerations inherent in projects of this scale. The Augusta Passenger Rail project served as a focal point, sparking valuable discussions that delved into the nuances of decision-making and collaboration across different government levels. Other healthcare oriented short-term projects related to less complexity with more of a defined scope and shorter delivery period were also discussed. These project discussions will be ongoing to the end of the Leadership 2024 cohort.

At the Georgia State Capital:

The Government Day visit agenda was divided into three distinct legislative areas, each offering various insights into legislative leadership and processes. 

1)    The first leg took the Leadership Augusta team to the capital, where they observed the main legislative voting area. Here, state legislators were actively engaged in the lawmaking process, introducing, debating, and voting on bills addressing a spectrum of issues affecting their constituents. The journey seemed meticulous, navigating through committee reviews, floor debates, and final votes with the overarching goal of enacting legislation that reflects the needs and values of the communities they represent. In a culmination of this legislative immersion, Augusta's local legislators, including Gloria Frazier (District 126), Dr. Mark Newton (District 127), Karlton Howard (District 129), Lynn Gladney (District 130), and Brian Prince (District 132), presented a shoutout to Leadership Augusta for their active participation during the day.

2)    The next leg of the visit included a combined lunch at the Sloppy Floyd Building, a notable Atlanta landmark. This provided an invaluable opportunity for the Leadership Augusta team to engage with both their local Augusta legislators and metro leaders, fostering connections and dialogue.  The first lunch speaker was Georgia State Insurance Commissioner John F. King, where he eloquently detailed his pivotal role and extensive responsibilities in overseeing insurance matters within the state. During his conversation, Leadership members posed a key question concerning healthcare rates and redlining within the healthcare rates sector. Leadership membership was notably impressed by his comprehensive response, outlining how his dedicated team employs advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), to address the complex issue of redlining. Among the esteemed attendees were Augusta Mayor Garnett Johnson, Columbia County Chairman Doug Duncan Waynesboro Mayor James Jones and Sue Parr, President/CEO of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. The collaboration of leaders was evident as Augusta Tech President and Augusta Metro Chamber Vice Chair, Dr. Jermaine Whirl, introduced state legislative delegation members and local elected officials from across the tri-county region.  Leadership Augusta class members led the way asking questions about policy issues that impact families and enterprise in our state. Special guest speakers such as Chancellor Sonny Purdue, State Senator Max Burns, and Georgia Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson provided insight into current events and pending legislation creating a platform for collaborative discussions on shared priorities and regional initiatives.

3)    Final stage of the visit incorporated discussion from the Georgia Secretary of Education, alongside local delegates, engaged in a constructive dialogue to explore upcoming programs designed to foster the academic and personal growth of school children within both the educational system and the broader community. The discussion centered around initiatives aimed at providing comprehensive support to students, ensuring their well-rounded development not only within the school environment but also within the broader community. The collaboration between the Georgia education secretary and local delegates reflects a shared commitment to enhancing the educational experience and overall growth of students, aligning efforts to create a positive impact on the educational landscape and the community at large.

Ultimately, Government Day provided an immersive experience, delving into the array of state government activities, legislators and officials. It offered Leadership Augusta Members a comprehensive understanding of the legislative process, shedding light on its political intricacies. The day underscored the significance of fostering robust coalitions between Augusta and Atlanta, emphasizing their pivotal role in advancing the collective well-being of our entire Augusta/CSRA region.

Submitted by: Darryl Jordan, Leadership Augusta 2024