Georgia Rep. Jay Powell dies at GOP leadership meeting

Rep. Jay Powell died after collapsing at a Republican caucus leadership event Monday night. (Source: Facebook)
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ATLANTA (AP) — The chairman of the powerful Georgia House Rules Committee has died after suddenly collapsing at a lawmaker retreat.

Rep. Jay Powell died after collapsing at a Republican caucus leadership event Monday night at the Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris, according to House Speaker David Ralston.

"His loss is devastating to the state of Georgia," Gov. Brian Kemp said in a statement.

Powell, 67, was an attorney from Camilla in south Georgia. He had served in the state House since 2009. In his role on the Rules Committee, which he assumed earlier this year, Powell helped decide which bills came up for a vote in the House. He also advocated for rural revitalization, and previously co-chaired the House Rural Development Council.

Ralston says that Powell served with “integrity and his leadership truly moved Georgia forward.”

"Today is a sad day for the state of Georgia and a very hard day for me personally," U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican who previously served in the state House, said in a statement.

"Jay always had my back even through the storms of politics, which means more than anything. He helped me as a new attorney and provided wise counsel over the years regarding our public service," Collins added.

The Towns County Sheriff's Office requested that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation look into the death, GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said. "We should have more information available following an autopsy," Miles said.