Gold Dome Update 
Highlights from the House 
2017 Fall Update
Once again, our district was successful in hosting record numbers to the annual Georgia National Fair! The fair, which first began in 1990 and welcomed 270,000 people, now serves as a constant for Georgia families, and brings in over 500,000 folks each year. While the rides are fun, the concerts great, and the exhibits impressive- our fair, very importantly, also serves as a reminder of the vital role Agriculture plays in our state.

Did you know that Georgia agriculture is the largest economic producer in our state? Our farming roots run deep as Georgia’s oldest industry contributes over $70 billion annually to our state economy. Currently, one in seven Georgians work in agriculture, forestry or related fields. USDA reports that there are 40,000 farms, which encompass approximately 9.3 million acres of land. As we continue to rank as top producers in chicken, blueberries, peanuts and pecans, the Georgia General Assembly works hard to protect the well being of our AG industry.

This year we passed numerous bills to ensure our farm communities have the tools they need to be successful. As agriculture is one of the most regulated industries, we also passed legislation meant to cut government red tape, further allowing the Department of AG to streamline standard procedures. See below a quick reference of legislation passed for the benefit of Georgia’s agricultural efforts.

Agriculture Legislation 2017

House Bill 50 : Provides liability protection to producers when visitors are on the farm participating in livestock activities (cattle, goats, sheep, and swine). We are hopeful that this bill will encourage producers to open up their farms for tourism and educational purposes.
House Bill 49 : Establishes a 3-year license for livestock dealers and market operators. While the license fees are set to not exceed $200 for market operators or $25 for dealers, this will allow more transparency and accountability to livestock transactions, which has been an issue with online dealers. 
House Bill 176: Allows the Department of Agriculture to enter agreements with the federal government for the Georgia DOA to inspect and enforce provisions of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act.
Senate Bill 69: Removes the requirement of certified organic operations to register in Georgia. USDA already requires this and provides a list of registered operations to the public online. This bill eliminates the Georgia registry as it is duplicative and burdensome.
Senate Bill 78: Allows the Department of Agriculture to issue a variance or waiver to rules that have been achieved by other means so long as the end result is adhering to the set rule.

The general assembly, in conjunction with Department of AG Commissioner, Gary Black, will continue to work on behalf of the farm communities in our state. The Department of Agriculture has gone to great lengths to ensure our farmers are showcased through the Georgia Grown program. This program encourages consumers to buy local and support our local economy through various avenues, including the farm to table program, found in many school system cafeterias across the state. If you did not have the opportunity to visit the Georgia Grown building during the fair, I encourage you to visit their website to learn more. 

  This year it was a privilege to participate as an announcer in the annual Peanut Poll, hosted by the Secretary of State, located in the Georgia Grown expo building. Voters participated in polls throughout the week covering various topics relative to our great state. This years winners for top vacation spots in Georgia were as follows: Blueridge, Savannah and St. Simons!
We had the pleasure of attending the Sandler ribbon cutting ceremony in celebration of their midstate plant in Houston County. Sandler supplies textiles to international and U.S. companies and uses the plant for production, sales and distribution of products. So far they've created 60 new jobs and we feel confident that they will continue to expand in middle Georgia!
Thank you to Houston County and Central Georgia Technical College for graciously hosting one of several House Distracted Driving Study Committee meetings taking place across Georgia. Big thanks also to law enforcement and others for their attendance and input. Many shared heart wrenching stories and personal examples as to why distracted driving is such an issue on our roadways.
It was a privilege to be in attendance with law enforcement officers and citizens from across the state, including our very own Sheriff Talton, to honor the Georgia Association of Sheriffs'- Sheriff of the Year, Terry Deese of Peach County.
Please Join Us for our Annual Golf Tournament in support of our efforts!

Please be on the lookout for future updates on study committee reports, as well as, the legislative preview for the upcoming session. In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us anytime. Thank you for allowing me to represent our needs under the Gold Dome as we continue to work for simple, smart and effective Government.

Shaw Blackmon

Representative Shaw Blackmon
House District 146
Phone: 404-656-0177
Address: 501-E Coverdell Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

Rep. Shaw Blackmon represents District 146. He currently serves as a Deputy Whip and as a member of Ways & Means, Economic Development and Tourism, Special Rules, Insurance and
Governmental Affairs Committees. Shaw is also a member of the Military Affairs Working Group.