Thursday, January 19, 2012

They never fail to disappoint

The Georgia General Assembly never fails to entertain the taxpayers with both proposed legislation and their behavior as well while they are in Atlanta. Two (or three, depending on how you count them) of the highlights of this year's General Assembly session, so far, are H.B. 464 and H.B. 1130.

Representative Kip Smith (R-Columbus) managed to get himself stopped for poor driving last week in Atlanta. While he was busy failing a breathalizer test (initial reading was .091, the second was .99, and the third .100, when the legal limit is .08), he made sure to mention he is a member of the General Assembly. Fortunately that didn't impress the officer who stopped him. Smith was booked with two charges of DUI and ignoring a red light.

Republicans aren't the only ones who have done this, but Smith is a co-sponsor of H.R. 464, which would require Georgians who receive welfare to submit to random drug tests. Smith underwent a random drug test the night of January 12 in Buckhead, and he failed. He is a recipient of taxpayer funds, and yet his legislation doesn't require him to tow the same line. Rep. Scott Holcomb, (D-Atlanta) volleyed back with H.R. 677, which would make lawmakers who fail a drug test subject to removal. Unfortunately Holcomb's bill most likely won't muster adequate support, and Smith's bill won't die because of his poor decisions.

In the top 10 (so far) of bills filed this session, H.R. 1130 is absolutely stunning. This bill, filed by Representatives Kevin Cooke (R-Carrollton), Josh Clark (R-Buford), Delvis Dutton (R-Glennville), Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville) ,and Christian Coomer(R-Cartersville), would repeal the 17th Amendment to the Constitution and allow state legislators to elect Georgia's U.S. Senators. This amendment, passed in 1913, finally took the power to elect Senators away from state legislators and put it in the hands of the citizens.

The U.S. Senate operates like a country club. Their staffers are notorious for refusing to attend meetings on the other side of the Capitol in the House offices. They have the luxury of standing for election every six years, allowing them ample time to stoke their campaign coffers and influence other state elections.If they can carry a large enough percentage of urban populations across the state, they can write off rural (rural generally gets the short end of the deal from our current Senators now) because they are elected statewide. It is a matter of managing the urban areas and letting rural ice the cake.

H.R. 1130 turns the electoral process on its head, stripping rights out of the hands of citizens and giving it to an already privileged group of white men under the Gold Dome. Surely if this gains any traction people of both parties, plus the Tea Party, will see if for what it is. This type of legislation is grandstanding and shouldn't be tolerated by Speaker Ralston and party leaders.                

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