The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber’s Government Affairs Council (GAC) presented its 2019 Legislative Agenda to state legislators representing Lowndes County.
The agenda outlines priorities where the Chamber and members of GAC will focus attention during the upcoming legislative session, which is set to convene on Jan. 14, 2019. Based on information gathered during a series of Members to be Heard forums and surveys, the legislative agenda was developed by the GAC and approved by the Chamber’s Board of Directors.
GAC Chairman John P. Page stated that the legislative agenda represents the Chamber’s core mission to advocate on behalf of its more than 1,200 members.
“Having the opportunity to directly present the Chamber’s 2019 State Legislative Agenda to our local legislative delegation is an important part of the Chamber’s core mission of advocating for local businesses and industries,” Page said. “The Chamber works on behalf of its membership to promote pro-business, low taxes, and less restrictive regulations so that businesses can thrive in our South Georgia region.”
Senator Ellis Black stated that he values the opportunity to hear the concerns of local business owners.
“Business drives the economy,” Black said. “That means jobs. It is important for me to know the issues of the business community.”
As a business owner, Representative John LaHood agreed that meetings like the one hosted by the Chamber are vital to understanding concerns that impact businesses.
“It is great to hear about issues from the business community related to workforce development, permitting, and regulations, so that I know what the common business owner faces,” LaHood said.
Page added that meetings with members of the state delegation, as well as federal and local elected officials, are essential in keeping the priorities of businesses at the forefront of legislators.
“There have been many victories that began with meetings such as this,” Page said. “Chief among those is the implementation of the first sales tax holiday that was led by the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber. Our Chamber continues, once again, to support this legislation because we know it benefits local businesses here in Lowndes County.”
For the second consecutive year, the General Assembly did not renew the “Back to School” sales tax holiday.
Heath Dawson, who chairs the GAC economic development and taxation committee, said the primary purpose of the sales tax holiday is to encourage and promote spending at the local level throughout Georgia.
“As a result, border communities, such as Lowndes County, are positioned to capitalize on economic activities and growth within our area in place of this activity traveling outside our area,” Dawson said.
Black agreed to the economic importance of the sales tax holiday, especially within border counties.
“It has a very positive effect on communities on the border,” Black said “This is a big revenue generator. It also helps parents buying supplies for their kids for school. We do have challenges in trying to get it back.”
LaHood said with Lowndes County proximity to Florida, the sales tax holiday is an important issue.
“Lowndes County is especially susceptible to a loss in revenue by not having a sales tax holiday,” LaHood said. “It is very important not only to Lowndes but all bordering counties throughout the state.”
The Chamber’s 2019 Legislative Agenda represents a variety of issues that impact the Valdosta and Lowndes business community including transportation, healthcare, local government, labor and workforce development, education, economic development and taxation, and military affairs.
“As we approach the start of the General Assembly in January, GAC members will continue to bring these issues to the attention of our legislators,” Page said. “We are looking forward to a productive legislative session and know that in working in partnership with our legislative delegation, we can achieve positive results that will benefit our community.”
The Chamber’s 2019 Legislative Agenda is available to view at https://www.valdostachamber.com/legislative-agenda.html
Members of the GAC:
John P. Page, Chairman
Gary Wisenbaker, Transportation
Nathan Brantley, SORT/Local Government
Amanda Johnson, Labor/Education/Workforce Development
Heath Dawson, Economic Development/Taxation
Nick Lacey, Military Affairs
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Members of the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber’s Government Affairs Council met with local state legislators to present its 2019 Legislative Agenda. Front row, left to right, John P. Page, Senator Ellis Black, Representative John LaHood, and Myrna Ballard. Top row, left to right, Heath Dawson, Amanda Johnson, Gary Wisenbaker, Nick Lacey, and Nathan Brantley.