DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Sen. Steve Gooch of Dahlonega and State Rep. Kevin Tanner of Dawsonville were the featured speakers at last night’s Dawson County Republican Party Meeting at the Bowen Arts Center.
Gooch represents 200,000 north Georgia residents, including those in Dawson, White, Lumpkin, Union and Forsyth counties. The district is made up of about 75 percent Trump voters.
“It’s the most conservative district in the state senate and the third most conservative in the country,” he said. “So, it’s pretty easy for us to go down there and vote a conservative agenda cause that’s who we are and who we try to represent back home.”
He said he had took some heat from liberals for his vote in favor of the fetal heartbeat bill – the bill that bans abortions as soon as a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat — but added, “I was proud of my vote on that heartbeat bill, saving hundreds of thousands of unborn children. It was probably the best vote I had taken in my nine years in the senate.”
Gooch also talked about passing enabling legislation to create business courts in the state. The legislation will allow businessmen and women to take a case directly to a business court rather than the Superior Court. “A lot of business issues are highly specialized and not many Superior Court judges have business experience,” he said. “In a business court, they would be able to bring in experts that know a lot about the subject matter.”
Another issue he has spearheaded for several years is the expansion of high-speed internet access to rural communities. He and other legislators who understand that high-speed broadband internet service is essential to schools, businesses and hospitals made it a priority this year. They passed legislation that allows power companies and phone companies to begin selling internet service in rural areas.
Tanner also weighed in on the fetal heartbeat bill, saying, “I have several in Lumpkin County who are very much opposed to that legislation. There is no way I could ever change their mind and I’m very much pro-life and there is no way you could ever change my mind. It’s a moral fiber issue for me.”
Tanner worked hard on getting new voting machines for the state. The bill passed in the House along party lines with Democrats opposed. The new machines, which will cost between $150 million and $200 million, will allow voters to cast a ballot electronically, print out a copy for their approval then scan it to have it recorded.
“I have yet to be able to get my democrat colleagues to give me a reason they would be opposed to that particular machine,” Tanner said. “The reality is (opposition) is coming from the national party that they should oppose the legislation. I will say this, it is proven statistically that the best way to rig or cheat in an election is paper ballots. If you want to stuff ballot boxes and rig an election, paper ballots are the best way to do that. These machines make it very difficult if not impossible for that to happen because if there is an audit, there is a trail we can follow.”
Tanner has been a champion of mental health reform in Georgia which has led to the creation of a behavioral health reform and innovation commission made up of 23 members. Four will be legislators but the majority will be experts in the field of mental health.”
“The problem is once you graduate from a mental health court, there is no follow up,” he said. “If you have schizophrenia, or you have bipolar, or acute depression, you have to be followed your entire life to make sure medication is being taken and you’re not having an episode.”
Last night’s meeting was the first since the election of a new slate of officers at the County Convention. The new officers include Seanie Zappendorf (chairperson), Mike Berg (first vice chair) Pepper Pettit (second vice chair), Dale Smart (secretary) Katie Hulsebus (treasurer) and Norman Samples (committee member at-large).
Among the elected officials who attended the event were Mayor Mike Eason, Commissioners Julie Hughes-Nix, Sharon Fausett, City Councilman Stephen Tolson and former Commission Chairman Mike Berg.
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