Mix of old and new in Georgia Senate committee leaders

Georgia Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and the state Senate Committee on Assignments named 24 of 32 Republicans in the chamber majority as chairs on Thursday. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, Pool)

The Georgia Senate has picked committee leaders and members for the next two years, with 24 of 32 Republicans in the chamber majority named as chairs on Thursday by Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and the Senate Committee on Assignments.

Sen. Blake Tillery, of Vidalia, will stay at the helm of the budget-writing Senate Appropriations Committee, as expected. Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, of Rome, will remain chair of the Senate Finance Committee, which writes tax bills. Sen. Brian Strickland, of McDonough, also returns as the chair of the Judiciary Committee, which handles legislation on criminal and civil law.

Sen. Matt Brass of Newnan, one of the Republican Jones’ closest allies, will head the Rules Committee, which controls the flow of the legislation that goes to the full Senate. Other top Jones allies who were appointed include Sen. Brandon Beach, of Alpharetta, to helm the Economic Development and Tourism Committee and Sen. Greg Dolezal, of Cumming, to head the Transportation Committee.

One early initiative by Jones and Republican leaders has been to create a Children and Families Committee, which will be led by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, of Marietta. Jones said the panel will focus in part on improving foster care and child welfare conditions.

Traditionally, some high-ranking senators including President Pro Tem John Kennedy, of Macon, do not lead committees.

Sen Mike Dugan of Carrollton, who lost his bid to become president pro tem to Kennedy, will chair the Veterans, Military, and Homeland Security Committee.

There are three first-term Republican chairs, with Shelly Echols, of Alto, leading the Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee, former House member Rick Williams, of Milledgeville, leading the Retirement Committee, and Colton Moore, of Trenton, leading the Interstate Cooperation Committee.

Senate leaders also tapped two Democrats to lead low-profile panels. Sen. Donzella James, of Atlanta, will chair the the Urban Affairs Committee, while Sen. Ed Harbison, of Columbus, will lead the State Institutions and Property Committee.