Gwinnett should be proud of its legislators

Gwinnett should be very proud of its General Assembly members and its influence on legislation.

Sen. Renee Unterman is responsible for one of the major accomplishments of this legislative session, helping Georgia taking a leap forward in ethics in government, with the passage of the ethics bill. As chair of the Ethics Committee and one of three senators on the Conference Committee on Ethics, Unterman was the bulldog that wouldn't slow down in the mission to bring the greatest ethics reform package this state has seen.

Sen. David Shafer, as chair of the Science and Technology Committee, passed two important pieces of legislation, including an anti-spam e-mail bill and a computer security bill. Shafer also chairs the Gwinnett Senate Caucus, through which all local legislation passes in the Senate. Local legislation refers to bills which relate to county, city or school board government, and which do not relate to the state as a whole.

Sen. Dan Weber is a newcomer to the Senate, representing a small portion of Gwinnett. Although technically a freshman, Weber brings a brilliant legal mind to the Senate and the Majority Caucus.

On education, an extremely important issue to Georgia and Gwinnett County, Rep. Brooks Coleman, chair of the House Education Committee, helped pass significant legislation this year to improve education in Georgia.

Rep. John Heard is chairman of the Gwinnett House Caucus, which passes all local legislation in the House. Accordingly, local bills that have to do with county, city and school board government must go through Heard.

Rep. Mike Coan, who is well-respected among the members of the House, is chairman of the Industrial Relations Committee. With his long-serving tenure in the House, he is an integral part of House leadership.

Rep. Donna Sheldon has helped pass significant legislation. In the minority last year (when it's very hard to pass legislation), Sheldon was able to pass a statewide tree ordinance bill. And this year, she was able to pass a consumer protection bill aimed at illegal multilevel marketing schemes. Thus, in her short tenure in the House, she has proven to be a productive member of the Gwinnett delegation.

Rep. Tom Rice chairs the important Motor Vehicles Committee in the House.

Other legislators, including Rep. Robby Mumford, Rep. Bobby Reese, Rep. Clay Cox, Rep. David Casas, Rep. Phyllis Miller, and Rep. Len Walker, are having an impact on issues affecting Gwinnett County.

Working with members of the General Assembly, David McCleskey, who now advises Gov. Sonny Perdue on education issues, is helping shape education policy in Georgia. And Rebecca Sullivan, the deputy executive counsel to the governor, is a close advisor and has the ear of the governor on legislation.

State Sen. Don Balfour represents the ninth district.