Rules, Shmules!

rulesToday is the last day of the Georgia legislature, and I am ever the optimistic populist.  So if you are watching from home, or from the galleries and have a bit of confusion about what’s going on, I thought it might be helpful to have your own copy of the Rules.

House Rules

Senate Rules

Click on the links above and you will find the rules governing the chambers.  The Senate Rules are online at legis.ga.gov, but the House Rules were updated back in 2013 and never made it back online.  With the gracious assistance of a transparency-loving House member, I scanned and copied the above for your reading pleasure/assistance before you head to sleep.

While these are the Rules governing the chambers, it would also be helpful to note that the House’s parliamentary procedure most closely follows the American version of Robert’s Rules of Order and the Senate more closely follows Mason’s Rules of Parliamentary Procedure.  I’m a fan of Robert’s, but Mason’s was explicitly designed for state legislatures.

Here’s NCSL’s take on the differences.

Now the key portions to pay attention to are terms like “germane”, “engrossment”, and paying attention to which floor votes are performed by a show of hands.  These procedures are what make the action on the floor more interesting and volatile.  Transparency is not the populace’s friend on Sine Die, and so I would encourage all Georgians to come out after work to watch the floors, if you want to really know what happens.

Want real time floor notes?  Twitter is your friend.

Senate Press

House Floor Notes

You can also get feedback from individuals and media on legislation by following #gapol on Twitter.

Happy Sine Die, all!

Freedom!!! Nope, not for you, Mr. Spencer.

Ah, Jeremy…JEREMY!  What were you thinking, dude?  Well, we all know what you were thinking, but did you really have to say it?  Did you have to post it?  Did you have to keep the photos up on your Facebook page? Jer…e…my.  Jeremy, you, my friend, are what we would call an idjut here in my part of Georgia.

So, Mr. Spencer, a DOE Official (political favor by Mr. Woods for helping him with his campaign), put some pretty vitriolic posts about anyone who is not a straight white Protestant male on his Facebook Page.  I will give him credit for being an equal opportunity hater, but a hater all the same.  But here’s what I think (and since my salary from this blog seems to continually get lost in the mail, I can say what I think):  I think Mr. Spencer has the right to believe what he wants to believe, however distasteful those thoughts may be.  I believe he shouldn’t have gotten the job in the first place (so he passed around a lot of campaign ads for Woods, and he’s brothers with a Georgia Representative.  Those are not resume pieces that will get you hired where I live; just sayin). I also believe that we have become waaaayyyyy too politically correct here, there, and everywhere.

Where do we draw the line, though? At what point do we say, enough is enough, and let folks think what they want to think and say what they want to say? At what point does a company or an entity dismiss a person’s thoughts as just that:  thoughts?  I am of the philosophy that you can swing your arms around in a circle until you are blue in the face.  I may find it annoying, but you shouldn’t be arrested for swinging your arms around, even though you look stupid.  But the minute, the second, you hit me, we have a problem.  At that point, your arm swinging interfered with my right to go about my business.  At that point your annoying little arm swinging game turned into a hitting game, and I am the victim.

There are so many stories out there where some yahoo with too much angst spouts off about inappropriate (read: NOT ILLEGAL) stuff.  Recently, a teacher from Johns Creek High School was fired resigned from Fulton County because she posted about a student with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) taking too long on a final exam (to which he had extra time by law).  She was pissy because she wanted to go home at noon with all her other teacher friends, but the student took his time on his exams entitled to him through his IEP.   A teacher in Winder, Georgia went to Germany and took a photo of herself with a beer in her hand at pretty much every stop she took (She sued and won, by the way).  Are these things illegal?  No.  Neither of them is illegal, and, although I am not a lawyer, the way I read the Professional Code of Ethics, not a one of them defies those ethics either.  Neither does Jeremy Spencer’s gross misperception of humanity.

So Jeremy Spencer is an idjut, and he should not have been hired…but should he have been fired resigned for having thoughts with which others disagree?  He was swinging his arms on his personal Facebook Page, and he did not take down a post that I would consider seriously offensive (I’m not easily offended by much), but his arms didn’t do any physical damage to anyone or to anyone’s property while swinging.  At what point does the old saying about words not hurting anyone begin to take hold in grown folks?

At what point do we simply say to those people and about those people, “Bless your heart” and keep it moving?

Of Rumors and Peach Punditry…

man woman hands holding broken heartIt would seem while I was in NOLA, a little change occurred in politics and punditry in the peach state.  (And I thought things were rowdy in the French Quarter.  Yikes!)

Long time Editor in Chief, Charlie Harper and many of the contributors jumped ship and moved to their own, new blog (gapol.com) with Harper serving as the publisher.  Yours truly got her start blogging there, met her current boyfriend among the writers there, and continue to hold many of the writers in high personal professional esteem.  Published by Clayton Wagar and created by Erick Erickson, Peach Pundit is now taking a new turn without the old crew.

It is my understanding that Peach Pundit, like Z Politics, has been acquired by Stoneridge.

If this rumor is true: Bravo to Wagar and Erickson for monetizing opinions and comments on a website!  Bravo too to the writers who left wishing to separate themselves from the monetization of their words!  Bravo to Jay Williams and gang for acquiring another hold on political punditry in Georgia!

Win-win for everyone, and a great start to session 2016!

 

Session: My Second Favorite Time of Year

footballLegislative session will begin next week.  It is my second favorite time of year.  Clearly it’s no one’s first; but a strong second in a heated primary, if you will.  Football season is my favorite time of year.  Some may love Christmas, others Halloween, but my favorite time in Georgia is the fall in which every self-respecting Southerner picks a team and joins their friends and family in heated rivalry for a few months.  It’s a second religion here, and I’m certain the rules are written somewhere in Leviticus, right next to church starting at 11am sharp.

The two seasons are not so unlike one another.  My love of college football is because of the intense drama on the field in a strategically played game that has an extremely diverse mix of talent…Unless you’re Alabama, of course.  Then you just mark your calendar with bowl rings and trophies.  The legislative session is similar in that there is strategy of sorts, lots of drama and high spirits, and the talent is as diverse as the power.  Freshmen legislators may rise up on the rungs quickly in popular opinion even if their bills go nowhere and the mighty three are typically protected and lead from behind as much as any star quarterback.  There is also occasional Tebowing on the sidelines for dramatic effect and ingratiating oneself to the social conservative base.

However, the rumors of success and predictions for which way the score will go are as varied as the talent in the second string draft.  Yet, I will try my hand at a few suspicions I have and we shall all see where the rumors of session will fall. Continue reading “Session: My Second Favorite Time of Year”

Red Clay and the Challenge of Equality: To Be Mired In or Molded

georgiaredclayThe holiday season is drawing to a close, and soon the legislative session for the Georgia General Assembly will be upon us.  As the state closes out its year, we look to the future and what promise or plague our policy makers will bestow upon us.  I have spent an unhealthy amount of time this season pondering the fate of Georgia, as if I have any real means of addressing it.  I have not blogged in some time, as I have had little hope that the politics of the day are bearing anything other than strange fruit.  It is hard, even for an eternal optimist in these days of constant rain to see the silver lining.  Across the red hills, I see a lot of barriers that not only exist, but are perpetuated without real cognizance of their consequence.

Along with the temperature, I see the passion of Georgia’s people heating up like a kiln.  Many of us in the political sphere refer to this time as “the calm before the storm” of legislative session.  We spend time with our families, count our blessings, and prepare ourselves for the battle of will in government.  Under the surface though, there is something simmering here and in the nation that Presidential candidate Donald Trump and the Black Lives Matter movement have accentuated and possibly exploited.

It is widely assumed that the upcoming session will be brief and not much policy other than education passed.  Incumbents need time to raise money and campaign in their districts.  This abbreviated session may be a mixed bag of course, addressing a big problem, yet not the only one the state faces.  I am grateful to see the QBE funding formula finally addressed (as the last time was almost before my birth), yet I cannot shake the very real feeling I have had for the last five years or so.

The General Assembly is thinking too small. Continue reading “Red Clay and the Challenge of Equality: To Be Mired In or Molded”

Planned Parenthood Hearing: FAIL

I spent about 2.5 hours watching the Planned Parenthood hearing. Its purpose was to examine the use of federal funding in their national office and affiliates. I will refrain from sharing my stance on this issue because it is irrelevant to the purpose of this post. Instead I will focus on what happened during the hearing. My disappointment is equally distributed amongst everyone involved and my intent is bring light to why this hearing was in my opinion ineffective.

Behavior of the Members of Congress– It is unknown to me why the congressmen and congresswomen were allowed to speak to Ms. Richards, CEO of Planned Parenthood, the way they did. They ranted at her and often times did not allow her adequate time to answer their questions. They fired facts at her that she had no chance to dispute or confirm. They asked questions in “yes or no” form that often required a more detailed response yet they did not allow for such a reply. Overall, I found their aggressive nature to be ill-mannered and disturbing. It seems like our elected officials should engage with a witness in a way that shows respect and does not badger or intimidate them out of answering a question effectively. I will not make the argument that she was treated this way because she was a woman as some members of congress did. I will however, express my extreme disappointment that any person who is there to testify to congress could be treated with such a lack of respect. I was genuinely taken aback by their often harsh tones and their lack of basic manners. I expect more from our elected officials.

CEO: Ms. Richards- I am certain that Ms. Richards and her team are highly intelligent people. However, I was deeply disappointed in many of her answers to the questions she was asked. She often replied with “I can’t confirm”, “ I am not sure”, or “I do not have that information in front of me”. This is unacceptable. An organization who is so often critiqued and questioned should be diligent and thorough in their preparation for a hearing like this one. They should have fully prepared for any form of question and prepared Ms. Richards to respond to the rapidly fired inquiries concisely and quickly to convey her point clearly. She is the sole person representing the organization in front of many members of congress and it is of the utmost importance to planned parenthood supporters and patients that she be well equipped to defend the organization. Nonprofit CEO’s should be well-informed about every nook and cranny of their organization to be able to defend any penny spent or raised and activities conducted in the organizations name. This may be a slightly unrealistic request but often times the people demand this type of knowledge and when a hearing is called to examine what you have, how you spend it and what you do, it seems like something you would want to know.

Lack of Objectivity-A congressional hearing does not seem like the pLace to divulge personal information about previous health care experiences with Planned Parenthood or how much you value your daughters and mothers. Nor should it be the place where you advocate for your anti-abortion agenda. This hearing is not for the members of congress to express their own opinions of this organization in the mere 5 minutes they have to speak and ask questions. The purpose of this hearing is to address facts regarding the funding they receive from the federal government. I find it unprofessional and inappropriate to bring personal experiences and private emotions into a conversation that should be operating on a facts only. If Planned Parenthood is or has broken the law then they should be dealt with accordingly. If they have not, then they should continue on. This hearing was far too emotional for a government setting.

 

I admit that I am no expert on congressional hearings or the intricacies of federal funding. But as an American, I was disappointed in how we treated a voluntary witness. As a former nonprofit employee, I was bothered by her seemingly unpreparedness on key issues. And as a person, I resented the lack of objectivity they showed in their choice of statements and questions.

 

Tweet me your thoughts @Lbriana12

Warnock Hosts “Members-Only” Meeting at Ebenezer Baptist

MEMBERS ONLYI have been visiting churches lately around Atlanta and Decatur.  For years I have considered visiting, yet have not attended historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.  It sits about a 10 minute drive away from my home, I’ve been to the historic site a number of times, yet until yesterday I had never set foot into a worship service.  That was my mistake.  As a girl who grew up in a Baptist church and sang in the gospel choir in college, this was closer to home for me than any of the stuffier restrained services I’ve worshipped in over the summer.  Dr. Raphael Warnock preached a strong message of goodness yet to come mixed with grace given to those who were struggling to find their path.  It was a good word to begin my week, bookended by the three part harmony of the men’s choir and their praise team.  High drama was used in the sermon, with the senior pastor at times yelling above the “Amen”s and “Hallelujah”s, yet no drama so much employed than that used in a very quiet but clear invitation for a “members-only” meeting of the church after the service.  Members of the media were told they were not welcome in the meeting and members of the church who were part of the media were told the meeting was off the record.

I left my Members Only jacket in 1985 and thus was not in attendance for the meeting. 

It is no secret Dr. Warnock has considered running for U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson’s seat.  My guess is that this was the meeting in which Dr. Warnock discussed what his run might mean for his church and to ask for the congregation’s blessing. Continue reading “Warnock Hosts “Members-Only” Meeting at Ebenezer Baptist”

Georgia: Filling the Gaps

Gap-AnalysisAfter a weekend of football, and Miss Georgia taking the crown for Miss America, it would be my guess folks around the nation are wondering what other successes and accolades may come from the peach state?  For me, I hope our future is found in growing business and a more developed economy, with meaningful employment for Georgians.  Yet, I cannot help but notice there are some noticeable gaps still linger.  These gaps are not ones that cannot be reconciled, but ones that must be addressed before Georgia is going to be placed on another tier in the marketplace.  Many Georgians speak lovingly of farm life, and of agriculturally based, small town economies.  Yet, if there is one thing I know of growing up on a farm in a small town, I know that you are always busy- there is compelling work to be done for maintenance, repair, and to keep the farm moving forward.

So what might Georgia do next? Continue reading “Georgia: Filling the Gaps”

Über: Disrupting More Than Just Transportation

uber_appThis past week I had a flat tire, unexpectedly.  I was rushing out the door to a meeting and as I turned the corner, saw very plainly that the tire was not a slow leak, but an all-out flat.  Curses were said, patience tried, then I moved on.  Being undeterred, I decided to take Über- my go-to for any event where I avoid driving.  At the end of the day, I had very different drivers, all with a story to tell, all with an interesting perspective, and all who had strong feelings about their commitment to something large than themselves.  Some had children which motivated them, others did not.  Yet all felt compelled to do something- to go beyond the basic and I was left feeling that these were my kind of people.  It was an eye opening experience for me, and I hope it will be interesting for you as well.

First off, I do not typically talk casually about what I do.  For a long time I used to tell people I encountered and was certain I would not meet again I was a secretary or an events planner.  I did this because whenever I say I work in politics, people always want my opinion. Or, more accurately they wish for me to affirm their opinion as right because I am (in their eyes at the moment) some subject matter expert.  I’m not, and I tire of this easily.  It was especially difficult in my early twenties at bars in Buckhead when the boys buying drinks wanted to talk about the latest Presidential election or to impress me with their lack of knowledge of foreign policy. But those are posts for another type of blog; just know that I do not bring up what I do in conversation unless I am asked directly and I try to offer the most basic explanation possible before switching the conversation back to them.  It saves us all some headaches.  Trust me.

My first driver was a fellow Jeep driver, so I felt some level of connection to him with this.  We spent the first part of my thirty minute ride discussing Jeeps and other makes and models we had driven and considered driving.  I learned he was a musician and did some video production as a primary job with Über as his back-up.  Cool.  Made me think of all the film productions going on here in Georgia and I silently thanked the tax credits that have encouraged that sector’s growth.  The driver then asked me what I did and my answer seemed to engage him far more intensely than I had expected.  This could go south, quickly.

…But it didn’t. Continue reading “Über: Disrupting More Than Just Transportation”

Faux Outrage: Politics in the Era of Trump

faux_outrage_rectangle_magnet

I feel I have either recently had an excellent reprisal on history lessons or politics has dwindled to nothing more than reuse and recycle.  This idea crystallized for me watching Netflix (the bastion of intellect and high-minded shows that it is).  Netflix has The Kennedys on tap right now, and after my binge watching of Mad Men and House of Cards in lieu of watching the Republican debates, this seemed like a natural order of viewing pleasure.  The last episode I watched was the one where Kennedy has to send the National Guard down to Ole Miss to allow James Meredith to register for classes that led to a riot that killed two people.  Prior to the riot, Governor Barnett stoked the flames of the already burning anger in the crowd by citing their outrage over all the “wrongs” the Kennedy Administration had done them, not disclosing that he and Kennedy had repeatedly been in discussion over the matter in an attempt to prevent the situation becoming a riot.  The outrage that Barnett fueled reminded me so much of what’s going on now in politics.  Not much has changed since the 1960s: Confederate flags, reproductive rights, belittling of women.  The names have changed, but the song remains the same.

In each situation, the outraged party says someone has gone “too far”.  I don’t disagree. 

Personally, I find outrage to be a poor tool for getting anything actually done policy-wise.  I have done my share of marching and angry finger-wagging to be sure, and once I recognized how little the other side listened to this (and how these stunts are used to manipulate the media), I chose a different path.  There is a place for passionate discourse in politics- lord knows I have my soap boxes.  Yet as soon as the conversation ends, you have no means for a workable solution, only fallout.  You have no ability to interact across the aisle without the courtesy of respect for the other side.

But it sure gets you attention, does it not?  Take a look at the headlines compiled over the weekend. Continue reading “Faux Outrage: Politics in the Era of Trump”