Political Notebook

House approves rural work group, Senate considers similar

State Sen. David Lucas, D-Macon, shown in this 2015 file photo at the state Capitol is proposing a summer study committee on rural issues. The group would come up with ideas to tackle issues like the lack of health care and job opportunities in some rural areas.
State Sen. David Lucas, D-Macon, shown in this 2015 file photo at the state Capitol is proposing a summer study committee on rural issues. The group would come up with ideas to tackle issues like the lack of health care and job opportunities in some rural areas. AP

There’s a lot of talk at the state Capitol this year about addressing “rural issues:” things that rural communities are more likely to lack, like health care, job openings, educational opportunities, fast internet, grocery stores and more.

The House unanimously approved the House Rural Development Council on Friday, a plan that came from the House’s top-ranking lawmaker, House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. He’ll appoint its 15 members and has said he will charge them to hold hearings across rural Georgia and come up with creative policy ideas to bring to the Legislature next year.

On the other side of the state Capitol, state Sen. David Lucas, D-Macon, has filed a resolution that would create something similar: the Senate Rural Georgia Study Committee.

“I am trying to see about these counties I have,” said Lucas, who represents all or part of seven counties.

He’s spent the last few years focusing on rural health and working on ways to get health care to people who live far from doctors and hospitals. The results so far have included telemedicine programs and funding — and more attention in Atlanta for the problem.

“I think we have to, as a state, address it. We’re not a third-world country,” Lucas said.

Lucas’ Senate Resolution 392 carries signatures of some high-ranking Senate Republicans and needs full Senate approval by March 30.

Maggie Lee: @maggie_a_lee

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