State Rep. Doug Collins has been named as the secretary of the state House of Representatives’ appropriations’ committee.
Collins’ appointment was made Friday by new Speaker David Ralston as the Blue Ridge Republican reorganized what is now his House.
"I am very happy. I am humbled that he would pick me to be a part of the leadership team for appropriations," Collins said. "We are coming into it in one of the hardest budget years that we’ve faced in a long, long time, but I’m looking forward to the challenge."
Collins’ promotion to secretary adds to the number of Hall County’s legislators who serve in positions of power on Appropriations. State Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville, serves as vice chairman of the committee.
Ralston left Rogers and State Rep. James Mills, R-Chestnut Mountain, in the positions they have previously served. Along with his position on appropriations, Rogers kept his seats on the House Insurance, Transportation and Health and Human Services committees. Mills is chairman of the House Committee on Banks and Banking; he is secretary of the powerful Rules Committee and he also serves on the Ways and Means and Appropriations committees.
State Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, was promoted from secretary to vice chairman of the House Retirement committee, but remains secretary of the House Education Committee.
Ralston also removed Benton from the Natural Resources and Environment Committee and placed him on the House Ethics and Rules committees.
House members have been anticipating the changes all week. Rogers said Ralston met with House members with his planned changes before releasing the list of committee appointments Friday.
Collins and Rogers praised Ralston’s ultimate decisions.
"I knew changes were going to be made and they were going to be positive changes," said Rogers. "Anytime you elect a new speaker, you’re going to have changes, and I think Speaker Ralston did what he needed to do."
Earlier in the week, Ralston rescinded the "hawk" positions created by former Speaker Glenn Richardson in 2005 in which designated House members could vote on all House committees and subcommittees.
In a news release, Ralston said abolishing the "hawk" system would restore the House’s transparency and integrity.
"While this system was initiated to enable House committees to more readily meet their quorum requirements, it has become a tool used strictly for partisan purposes," Ralston said. "Under my leadership, I am committed to working across the aisle and ensuring an equal voice to all House members no matter their party affiliation."
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported committee assignments for Rogers.