ATLANTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Augusta Mayor Garnett Johnson and Augusta Richmond County Commissioners attended the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s 2023 Eggs and Issues Breakfast at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta this morning, according to a spokesperson for Mayor Johnson.

Mayor Johnson and the Commission travelled to Atlanta last night in order to be ready for coffee at 6:30 a.m., followed by breakfast and a four-hour legislative preview that started at 7:30 a.m. and lasted until 11:30 a.m.

AT&T Georgia President Venessa Harrison opened the 2023 Eggs and Issues Breakfast introduced Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens. Dickens welcomed attendees to the city and spoke about his bi-partisan efforts to promote Georgia’s cyber security and tech sector, as well as highlighting collaborative efforts with former GA Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan to grow the state’s economy through those fields. 

Lt. Gov.-Elect Burt Jones told county and city leaders from across the state that he planned to take a “tough on crime” during the upcoming legislative session and pushing for harsher penalties against repeat violent offenders saying that crime concerns are “bad for business.” He also touched on making K-12 funding a priority, especially for children’s counseling services with special emphasis on the impacts that mental health policies have on the citizens of the state. 

Among the items discussed this morning, newly elected Georgia House Speaker Jon Burns announced the formation of a new healthcare task force chaired by Swainsboro pharmacist and President of Shoprite Drugs, Inc., Rep. Larry “Butch” Parrish (Repbulican – District 158). The new healthcare task force will have police and budgetary oversight on the state’s healthcare work force and healthcare access issues, according to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s live tweeting of the event

Tribute was also paid to former Speaker of the House David Ralston, who died Nov. 16, 2022, just two weeks after announcing he’d step down from his position due to health reasons. He was 68 years old and had been a member of the Georgia House of Representatives for two years, including the top leadership role which he held for 13 years. 

During its live coverage of the event, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce reiterated Georgia’s distinction by Development magazine as the top state to do business in the nation, a title bestowed upon it by the magazine for nine years straight.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp responded to questions from the attendees and, to specific questions about financial stressors, said that he’ll oversee implementation of a property tax relief grant. Gov. Kemp told attendees he intended to adhere to conservative principles and return excess reserves from tax revenues, roughly $2 billion, back into “the tax payer’s pocket.”

President of The Greater Augusta Black Chamber of Commerce Ronic West was also in attendance with the Georgia Coalition of Black Chambers, taking the oath Wednesday to serve as that organization’s 1st Vice President.