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Atwood planning to challenge flood act
It will be straight to work for state Rep. Alex Atwood, R-St. Simons Island, when the Legislature reconvenes Jan. 13.

Atwood plans to introduce the first day what amounts to a symbolic resolution challenging an overhaul of the National Flood Insurance Program the U.S. Congress adopted in 2012 that raises rates nationwide for homeowners in high-risk flood areas.

Among homeowners who will be affected by the elimination of federal subsidies, intended to make the program solvent, are some of those in Atwood's district that includes the barrier islands and city of Brunswick.

Atwood, a lawyer, acknowledges there is nothing local or state governments can do to change the federal Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.

"Biggert-Waters should preferably be repealed, or, at the very least, amended so as to eliminate its adverse economic impact on my district, the entire coastal community, and the state of Georgia," Atwood said. "I will be working hard to get this resolution passed as quickly as possible."

Atwood counts 2013 as a productive legislative term, with much of the legislation he introduced signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal. For this second term of the session, he says he will be focusing on new responsibilities and fiscal challenges.

Atwood will serve as a deputy Republican whip, a position which is to maintain party solidarity on key legislation, and will be responsible for working with the House of Representatives Republican caucus on legislative issues.

He says the nonpartisan Council of Superior Court Clerks has asked him to sponsor legislation to change some jury laws.

Atwood is vice chairman of the Juvenile Justice Committee, secretary of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and a member of the Appropriations, Insurance and Judiciary Non-Civil committees.

He says one of his major responsibilities from his committee assignments will be to work on the state budget in the appropriations committee.

"The only constitutional requirement for the General Assembly each year is to pass a balanced budget," he said. "As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will be focusing much of my legislative attention examining agency requests, balancing true needs against non-essential and wasteful spending, and thereby helping to pass a balanced budget without a tax increase."

In 2013, Rep. Alex Atwood sponsored three bills that became law:

* House Bill 164 gave a sales tax exemption on materials used for maintenance of aircraft that are flown in from out of state to be repaired or maintained in Georgia. "This piece of legislation was part of a continued effort to attract aviation businesses into Georgia and, particularly, here in the Golden Isles," Atwood said.

* House Bill 458 changed state law to allow condominium associations to purchase cheaper insurance.

* House Bill 161 modernized the oath of bailiffs, making sure it applies to oaths given in all courts that hold jury trials. It also removed antiquated language and shortened the oath by taking into consideration modern technology.

* Reporter Kelly Quimby writes about government and other local topics. Contact her at kquimby@thebrunswicknews.com or at 265-8320, ext. 321.



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