Bartow’s two freshman legislators followed different paths to get to the State Capitol this year but share some common goals and a committee assignment in their first Georgia General Assembly sessions.
District 15 State Rep. Matthew Gambill, R-Cartersville, said he plans to use his first session to learn the various processes of the Legislature before talking about specific legislation he wants to sponsor.
However, he said he generally is supporting some major state road projects in Bartow, as well as the state’s education and workforce development, and school safety efforts.
District 14 State Rep. Mitch Scoggins, R-Cartersville, said he also is supporting a major highway project planned for his district, which includes north Bartow and southeastern Floyd counties.
He also wants the Legislature to address problems the state is facing with opioid addiction and caring for the mentally ill.
Both new lawmakers were appointed to the House’s Budget & Fiscal Affairs Oversight Committee and will consider legislation that was assigned to it.
However, Gambill also will serve on the Economic Development & Tourism Committee and the Insurance Committee, while Scoggins will be a member of the Transportation Committee and Judiciary Committee.
Gambill, whose district includes most of southern Bartow County, is director of business development for employee benefits manager ShawHankins. He also worked 14 years as executive director of the Georgia Association for Career & Technical Education.
He easily defeated Allan Levene in the Republican primary in May and was unopposed in the November general election to succeed Paul Battles in the District 15 seat. Battles did not seek re-election to a fifth term in 2018.
He said he is working to make sure proposed road projects such as the proposed Rome-Cartersville Development Corridor, Old Alabama Road improvement, and I-75 exit to 3rd Army Road remain GDOT priorities.
The Rome-Cartersville plan includes a new road and improvements to existing Hwy. 411 beginning in Rome near its current intersection with Ga. Hwy. 20 and ending at a new I-75 interchange in central Bartow County.
Gambill said he generally wants the state to continue to encourage schools to provide programs that lead to workforce development to keep Georgia competitive for new jobs-producing industries.
In addition, he said he wants the General Assembly to continue an emphasis on school safety – which state lawmakers began in 2018 by providing $16 million to local school districts for building safety upgrades.
Each local school district received a base amount of $25,000 and a share of the remaining $11.5 million for improvements or refurbishments to buildings or purchase of safety-related equipment, such as cameras.
Scoggins served 28 years as judge of Bartow County Probate Court before retiring in 2016.
The new House District 14 representative won a special election Dec. 18 with 64 percent of the vote to defeat three others for his House seat.
He succeeded Christian Coomer, who qualified for re-election to the seat in 2018 and then withdrew to accept an appointment to the Georgia Court of Appeals.
Scoggins said he wants to make sure work continues on the U.S. Hwy. 411 connector, and wants the General Assembly to continue efforts to battle the opioid addiction crisis in Georgia.
Deaths from opioid overdoses in Georgia increased faster than the national average in 2017, according to reports from area agencies.
The freshman legislator also wants to “dig into” how to better care for the state’s mentally ill residents.
Local sheriffs are among those who have complained about seeing a sharp increase in mentally ill inmates following the closure of state facilities in recent years.