In the latest of the State of The Community luncheons presented by the La-Grange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Jackson Heating & Air, Rep. Randy Nix and House Minority Leader Bob Trammell shared their motivation for entering politics and provided perspective on a number of important issues to be addressed in the 2018 session.
“I’ve always been engaged with personal services through the financial industry,” explained Nix (R-LaGrange), who is now in his sixth term representing the 69th district. “I see politics as an extension of this service, only this time it is for the many people I represent in the House.”
House Minority Leader Trammell (D-Luthersville), followed his late father into public service. “As I was growing up, I saw my dad get involved in politics to help people and the community,” says Trammell. ‘I developed that same desire to help, not only my local community and the 132nd District, but citizens across the state of Georgia.”
Both men have progressed through the ranks to earn important leadership positions within the House hierarchy. Trammell will enter the 2018 session as the Minority Leader succeeding Rep. Stacey Abrams who relinquished the position to run for Governor. Drawing inspiration from hockey great Wayne Gretzky and sensing an opportunity to fulfill his goal to shape public policy, Trammell decided to pursue the leadership position. “Gretzky said you miss 100% of the shots you never take, so I thought I’ll take a shot and see what happens. Serving as Minority Leader is an exciting yet challenging opportunity.”
For Nix, advancement has come the more traditional way through seniority and hard work. “I have been very deliberate about developing expertise in certain areas and working well with others.” Serving as chairman of the Ethics Committee, Nix and his colleagues are responsible for legislation governing the moral and ethical issues relating to individuals and groups involved in government functions in Georgia. In addition to legislation, they also serve to examine reports of ethics violations of members of the House of Representatives.
Faced with the task of governing in the midst of this challenging political environment, Nix and Trammell agree that the key is communication. Seeking to craft legislation that is palatable to both sides requires a willingness to talk across the aisle. “We must maintain our principles as we work toward consensus,” says Nix. Although a majority of legislation has a non-partisan slant, “a pothole is a pothole”, explains Trammell, differences do exist on substantive issues. “It is our job to be the conscience of the body.”
The lack of access to broadband connectivity is an issue both members see as critical to continued economic growth across the state. The House Rural Development Council (HRDC) was created in April 2017 to address issues related to economic development and related policy areas including education, infrastructure, access to health care, and economic growth incentives.
“I think we will see the HRDC address this issue during the 2018 session,” said Nix. “Exploring new technology and incentives to suppliers are just two ideas that could help.”
“One of the toughest calls I receive from constituents is when a parent lets me know their students can’t do their homework due to the lack of connectivity.” Seeing no quick solutions, Trammell recognizes access to broadband continues to divide communities across the state and acknowledges the General Assembly has an important role in developing solutions through expanded infrastructure.
Education continues to be at the forefront of discussion around the state and both Nix and Trammell agree that additional investment is needed to help children from pre-k to high school be prepared for future success.
The so-called “religious liberty” bill is expected to be at the top of the legislative agenda during the 2018 session. Georgia was recently recognized as the “No. 1 state for business” for the fifth straight year. Nix and Trammell acknowledge that recognition, and the positive momentum for economic development, could be at risk if the bill is passed and signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal.
Nix suggested the issue should be addressed at the federal level. “I’d like to see federal legislation that would eliminate states using the law to compete against each other for business and major events.”
Trammell suggested the film business in Georgia, which has become one of the largest in the world, would vanish overnight if the General Assembly were to pass the religious freedom legislation. “Leaders decided in the ‘60’s to take a different approach so Georgia has a long legacy of being progressive in civil rights. That legacy could be destroyed in a minute should legislation that has any hint of discrimination be enacted.”
Despite some philosophical differences, Representatives Nix and Trammell are committed to working on behalf of their constituents to improve and enhance the communities they represent.
The State of the Community series will conclude on December 11 with a State of the Cities report from LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton, Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz, West Point Mayor Steve Trammel and Troup County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews. For more information on the State of the Community series, contact Page Estes at 706.884.8671.