Yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee met to take up the adoption bill, HB 159. This Committee is chaired by the handmaiden of Senate Leadership always vigilant and helpful Senator Jesse Stone. He began the committee meeting as he often does- in a quiet and respectful nature, explaining in detail the work that has gone into the legislation at hand. In my experience this is his way of boring you to death before doling out the sucker punch of his substitutes.
If you recall, Chairman Stone offered the sub for Campus Carry in the 2014 session, which effectively gutted the bill. He offered the sub for Campus Sexual Assault for the 2016 session, in both instances bringing good, common sense to Georgia’s otherwise extreme legislation. It appeared yesterday this has become his legislative calling card. He has painted himself in the colors of a moderate. In his initial run for office, I remember a longer standing politico in Augusta (Stone’s district’s nearest metropolitan area) pondering the milquetoast nature of the Chairman. It is my personal belief that this is his means of a head fake. Stone gives you the idea that his humility is genuine and I can almost see him shrugging his shoulders as he tells one he is just grateful to be in the presence of other great leaders.
Don’t be ashamed if you were fooled. I certainly was.
I have always seen Chairman Stone to be very secure and confident in his control of his committee meetings, yet Stone seemed somewhat rambling in his opening statements yesterday. This was the first red flag. Continue reading “Adoption Bill Already In Peril?”→
Today marks the beginning of the legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly. The General Assembly has always convened in the winter months, giving a historic nod to Georgia’s agricultural economy. For me, it seems also appropriate that it sits snugly in the lull between the end of the Christian seasons of Christmas and Easter.
A few weeks ago, I found myself invited to a holiday party of a friend that is located in the town named after Jesus’ birthplace. On this evening, I attended what I have many times before in my hometown area: a live nativity scene. The congregants of the Nativity Lutheran and Bethlehem First United Methodist Churches gathered to tell the story of Jesus in the manger, and naturally there was a crowd of the devout.
As reported by the AJC, Representative Regina Quick has decided to not run again for her seat, Georgia’s 117th House District, occupying parts of Barrow, Jackson, Clark, and Oconee counties. Instead, predecessor Doug Mckillip and newcomer Houston Gaines will challenge one another in the Republican primary and local attorney, Deborah Gonzalez will run on the Democratic ticket.
Georgians may remember my post about HB 51, primarily sponsored by Dean of the House Republican Caucus and Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee Chairman, Earl Ehrhart, this past session that Rep. Quick heavily defended. As a female, Republican, attorney, and someone who has the ability to be both intelligent and respectful in committee hearings, Quick was truly the best thing HB 51 had going for it. Yet the legislation was largely opposed by UGA students and ultimately was defeated in the General Assembly. However, carrying water for the longest serving Republican member of the Georgia House has its benefits, (along with Quick’s own legal chops) and Georgia may yet see her awarded a judgeship.
In every political system we have abuses of power, some more than others. They are not uncommon, and as long as the abuses are not egregious they can often times be overlooked. That does not make it right, yet one must pick their battles. It should also be said that the very legislators who commit these may do so because they sincerely have good intents. Sadly though, the general public is not always aware that some bills begin under these circumstances, and a bill’s origins often offer a more comprehensive view of the legislation. I would like to shed some light on one such case.
Today 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.
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.
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.
On the matter of being Baptist: I have been and cannot imagine myself to ever separate from the title of Baptist, no matter how many Mike Griffins, Jerry Falwells, or Westboro Baptists there may be. In addition to that preference, I also have always loved my scotch neat, I rarely miss a chance to break it down on the dance floor, have been and will forever be solidly pro-choice, and as for my card playing abilities? My middle school girl friends can vouch for the repercussions of our serious games of five card draw.
If you are of the misconceived notion that Baptists are unilaterally characterized by the opposite of the above mentioned actions, I am here to tell you Baptist is a big, broad tent that welcomes sinners of all stripes. Like all Christians, we believe devoutly in the salvation of our souls given mercifully and unconditionally by God. There are some who believe in the sacrificial atonement of sins in the death of Jesus the Christ, and there are some who do not. Yet Baptists go further beyond the belief of merciful salvation and are somewhat unique in our deeply held convictions around full immersion baptism and regarding a term called congregational polity, where every church is self-governed, autonomous from the fold as a whole, and independent. Quakers, Puritans, and many of the congregational churches created in the American colonies were cut from this cloth. Unitarian Universalists, some synagogues, and mosques employ a version of this as well, but Baptists are often the denomination to be identified with this in mainstream Protestantism.
Anyone who knows me personally knows how much I adore convenience providing technology, individuals who speak their mind, and processes that afford ample transparency. I believe that those who can be informed can also engage, and the more folks are engaged are the more who can bring about sustainable methods of solutions to the challenges of our time. I do not believe that elected oficials are inherently corrupt, but do recognize that it takes some serious courage and vision to alter a pre-existing system. With this perspective, my compliments to legislators do not come easily nor is my respect earned without merit. The Georgia General Assembly has been my playground and profession for the last twelve years. I cut my teeth with the House Hawk system (to which Congressman Tom Graves belonged) and I have mourned the loss of a number of men and women who contributed not simply to their district, but to greatness of the state as a whole.
Last week I was sad to hear of the decision of Representative Mike Dudgeon to not seek re-election.The image to the right was the image accompanying his Facebook post notifying the public he would not be seeking re-election. I am particularly sad about this because of his contribution to a more open and transparent bill comparison system. In a General Assembly in which the Senate still does not provide live streamed meetings, (and as of last week) I was told by Senate Gallery Doorkeepers photographs were no longer allowed in the Senate gallery, Representative Dudgeon stood in direct contrast. He is no rabble rouser, but simply admires limited scope of government and does not hide behind some archaic idea that technology is something to be feared. In contrast to the same photo-prohibiting ladies that explained I could use my cell phone for “business” not for “playing” while in the gallery, Representative Dudgeon and many House members actively have dialogue with their constituents via social media.
Thanks be to God for the House chamber, and specifically for Representative Dudgeon. For those who are unaware, Representative Dudgeon graduated Georgia Tech with a degree in Electrical Engineering and currently holds five patents. During his years in the Georgia General Assembly, Rep. Dudgeon also took time out of his full-time job in the tech sector and his service as a member to develop an inter-office software program that analyzes the different versions of bills as they go through the legislative process.
It 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!
The 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.