Friday, June 08, 2012
The Georgia Chamber recognized three state legislators this week for their dedication to improving Georgia’s economic competitiveness. House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal and State Sen. Tim Golden have been named 2012 Georgia Chamber Legislators of the Year, while State Sen. Charlie Bethel is the organization’s 2012 Freshman of the Year.
“Georgia businesses need state lawmakers who understand the role the private sector plays in creating jobs and building our economy,” said Georgia Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark. “Leader O’Neal, Senator Golden and Senator Bethel have each proven to be true champions of the state business community through their leadership on critical legislation that will encourage growth and investment. The Georgia Chamber is grateful for their collective efforts to strengthen Georgia’s pro-business environment and we look forward to our continued partnership.”
O’Neal provided extensive leadership during the 2012 session for a number of pro-business measures supported by the Chamber. A longtime chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, O’Neal was instrumental in passing the comprehensive tax reform package (House Bill 386) designed to aid businesses and families around the state. He also was a strong voice for passage of the Chamber-led state regulatory reform package (Senate Bills 427 and 428) that will offer more transparency and accountability with environmental permitting processes.
Golden led efforts resulting in overwhelming approval of a measure (Senate Bill 402) that amends Georgia’s state pension system to allow up to 5 percent of the state Employee Retirement System’s (ERS) assets to be allocated towards certain types of alternative investments. With passage of SB402, Georgia is no longer the only state in the nation that does not allow for these types of investments within the state pension system – removing a significant competitive disadvantage.
Bethel has quickly earned the respect of the business community since joining the Georgia Senate in 2011. This session, he was a key leader in finding an effective solution to accelerate Georgia’s repayment of a federal loan made to the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund while restoring long-term solvency to Georgia’s unemployment insurance system – saving Georgia employers approximately $250 million in repayment penalties.
O’Neal, Golden and Bethel all earned ‘A+’ grades on the Chamber’s 2012 Legislative Scorecard, both for their votes and support of business-friendly measures this past session and the 2011 session.