State Senator Jack Hill was sworn in for his 14th term Monday morning in Atlanta as the Georgia General Assembly convened for the 2017 legislative session.

Hill, who lives in Reidsville, was sworn in to the State Senate as a Democrat in 1991. He switched to the Republican party in 2002. Hill is a grocer and is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He also previously served on the Natural Resources and the Environment, Regulated Industries and Utilities and Rules committees as well as ex-officio for the Finance Committee. Past chairmanships include: K-12 Education, Ethics and Higher Education.

Members have not yet been notified of their committee assignments for the 2017 session. Committee assignments are especially important in the decision making of which bills go to the floor for a vote by the entire chamber. Among the powerful committees are Rules, Appropriations, and Ways & Means.

The Judiciary Committee, which formerly had a committee in both the Senate and House chambers, was recently combined into one joint committee as part of a decision in a closed-door meeting ahead of the convening of the session. The move was a slight to former Senate Judiciary Chairman Josh McKoon for his vocal support and push for religious freedom legislation, which previously passed and was vetoed by Governor Deal in 2016.

The legislature meets for 40 non-consecutive days beginning in January and adjourning by the first week in April. Because there are no elections in 2017 for anyone in the legislative branch, there is no rush to adjourn early and have legislators return to their districts to campaign.

Medicaid expansion, rural healthcare, education reform to replace Governor Deal’s failed Opportunity School District amendment, and casinos are all expected to be contentious topics this session.

Make sure to check AllOnGeorgia frequently for the latest information and vote tallies as session continues.

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Jessica Szilagyi is statewide contributor for All On Georgia and Market Manager for Southeast Georgia. Her main focus with All On Georgia is state and local politics as well as agriculture. She’s served as a policy analyst at the State Capitol and as a campaign manager in political races across the state.

She writes for and has two blogs of her own: ‘The Perspicacious Conservative’, a political blog, and ‘Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers’, a blog on moving from Atlanta to rural Georgia. Jessica is also a contributor for Fox5 Atlanta’s ‘Like it Or Not.’