DULUTH -- Gwinnett legislators have their eyes on small business regulations, education and health care, all in an effort to boost jobs.
Business leaders introduced a "jobs agenda" to members of the county's legislative delegation during an Chamber of Commerce event Wednesday. And many lawmakers said they are already focused on the task.
The agenda for the upcoming legislative session includes provisions to improve the area's global competitiveness, such as fair labor policies and tax code revisions, and a focus on infrastructure, education and tourism.
"Everything we are advocating for is about jobs," said the Chamber's Jann Moore. "It's critically important that the business community be at the table."
In the past year, local businessman have been involved in a "red tape watch," where several policies and laws were changed to help entrepreneurs.
"Long term, the red tape watch is the key to getting this community back to a stable financial place," Rep. Brett Harrell, R-Snellville, said of loosening regulations. "Just come down and tell us what doesn't make sense (of regs). It's in all our best interest going forward."
Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, who heads the Senate Education Committee, encouraged the business leaders to get involved in their local schools, saying one of the biggest obstacles to drawing companies is that young people are not ready for jobs when they graduate from high school.
"We've got to have kids become productive citizens," he said, adding that work would continue in 2013 to change the state's education funding formula.
With the implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act, Sen. Renee Unterman said health care will also be a major focus of the session.
A Medicaid expansion, she said, is key to local hospitals to make up for uncompensated care, but a bed tax debated in years past is crucial.
"If we don't reinstitute the bed tax, we can't make our budget," she said. "It's crucial that the leadership support it."
She emphasized the need for leaders to talk to their legislators, especially with a large number of newcomers, about the complex healthcare issues.
"It's crucial you get your input to them to help them make the right decision for Gwinnett County," she said.