Opinion: The AJC’s legislative guide is your roadmap to state politics

What can one person do?

We asked that question 10 years ago in our Guide to the Georgia Legislature, focusing on individuals who learned the power of speaking up for what they believed in, whether to advocate for services for a special needs child or a cleaner, safer environment, or lower taxes.

The conclusion was clear then and now. Anyone can help make our state a better place.

We’ve been publishing a “Users Guide” to the Georgia General Assembly the Sunday before the session starts for more than 15 years. We’ve led readers through hundreds of issues – hot button and routine. We’ve detailed changes of leadership and changes in attitudes.

Each guide has the same goal: to give you the knowledge and tools you need to get involved in whatever way makes sense for you. Not everyone will have the time or desire to attend, let alone speak at committee hearings, but it’s not hard to do if you know how things work.

Maybe you care about one specific issue and want to monitor it as it makes its way through the process. Or you want to make sure the lawmakers who represent you are acting in your interest. Maybe it just feels good to be an informed, responsible citizen.

There are plenty of reasons to pay attention. State lawmakers have the power to change your world in ways large and small. Will your children’s teachers get a raise this year? Could a new tax on internet streaming services be in our future to help jump start the economy in rural Georgia? Lawmakers are likely to talk again about cutting income taxes, but a tough budget year will make that tricky. On a lighter note, you still can’t get a Mimosa with your Sunday brunch before noon in Georgia. Will this be the year that changes?

These are just some of the issues on the horizon.

Making it easy to participate in this democracy of ours is our highest priority and we are always looking for ways to do it better.

This year, you might notice our Legislative coverage online under the name Politically Georgia. It’s our new subscriber website for readers who know how important it is to stay on top of state political news.

It includes our best reporting on matters that touch the lives of Georgians throughout the state, daily insight from our Political Insider bloggers and columnists and helpful tools and resources to help you make your voice heard. Want to check up on your lawmakers? Our Legislative Navigator allows you to see the bills they’ve sponsored, recent votes, committee assignments and top campaign donors. And look up bills, of course.

Longtime readers might notice a couple of new names as well. Reporters Mark Niesse and Maya Prabhu have joined our statehouse team. Niesse, who most recently covered DeKalb County for the AJC, will report from the House. Prabhu, who covered the statehouse in South Carolina for The Post and Courier, will report from the state Senate. They join Gold Dome veterans James Salzer, Jim Galloway and Greg Bluestein and general assignment reporter Jeremy Redmon. In addition, several beat reporters will follow issues they have deep experience in, including Ariel Hart on healthcare, David Wickert on transportation and Ty Tagami on education.

We dedicate a lot of resources to covering the Legislature and you can expect to see comprehensive coverage of the session in the newspaper and at PoliticallyGeorgia.com. We will track the biggest bills for you, and keep a watchful eye on the money and influence at work behind the scenes.

One person can make a difference. We hope our Guide and coverage help you stay informed and have your say.

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