Gwinnett Sen. Renee Unterman could soon become the first woman at the helm of the powerful Rules Committee.
Unterman, R-Buford, the only woman in the GOP caucus, is squaring off against Sen. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga for the role, taking the place of another Gwinnettian, Don Balfour.
"We'll have to wait and see, but I'm excited," Unterman said. "There's never been a woman elevated that high in the Senate, so it's for other women and girls. That to me means more than something for myself."
Balfour, R-Snellville, faced ethics sanctions after submitting per diem requests for days he was out of the state.
"It's ironic, but that's the way politics is," Unterman said of possibly unseating her friend and ally. "We'll continue to be friends. Friendship transcends politics."
Unterman has been drumming up support from conservative women's groups and tea party faithful.
The decision will come from the Committee on Assignments, likely after the new year. Members of the committee include Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Sen. Ronnie Chance, and Sen. David Shafer, the Duluth man who Unterman helped vault to the president pro tem position this month. (Unterman and Mullis are also members but will sit this one out.)
"The Rules Committee is the ultimate goal that you try to reach," Unterman said. "It's the strongest committee in the Senate."
The former nurse is currently the chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Committee. Last week she prefiled legislation to create a statewide Alzheimer's and Dementia Task Force responsible with assessing the state's needs on the topic.
"As the state's Alzheimer's population is expected to double by 2025, Georgia must be prepared with an active plan to share the burden of taking care of its citizens who are likely to require government assistance in the final stages of their lives due to the effects of dementia," Unterman said in a press release. "I challenge the Departments of Human Services and Aging, the Department of Public Health, the Executive branch and General Assembly to actively participate in developing this plan by approving this legislation."
Georgia is one of only 16 states in the nation that has not developed a statewide Alzheimer's response plan, the release said. The creation of this task force would set the groundwork for the infrastructure necessary to build the programs capable of serving individuals afflicted by this disease.
Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Camie Young can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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