Monday, March 28, 2011

We Can Only Hope

I have to admit that when the Georgia legislature is in session, I hold my breath, generally believing the less they do, the better off we all will be. In fact, I would support those Sunday sales lobbyists serving a little, or maybe a lot, of the product they're peddling if only it would keep lawmakers far, far away from those voting machines. Still, with just a week left before the forty day clock runs out, it is remarkable how little the Georgia legislature has accomplished this year. With firm control of both chambers of the legislature and every statewide office, one assumes that anything the majority wants to pass will move through with ease, yet, so far, Republicans have managed to send just seven bills to the Governor's desk, and of those seven, three are pieces of local legislation.  According to Aaron Gould Sheinin and Christopher Quinn of the AJC, that's seven out of over 2,000 bills that were filed.  For a crowd that crows long and loud about tax reform, they've done very little, and the bill that remains viable is but a shell of the robust shift to a tax on services as proposed by the Georgia Tax Reform Commission.

Here's a link to the legislation that has, so far, made it to Deal's desk. In addition to the HOPE "fix" (do not get me started) and the supplemental budget, lawmakers have managed to pass a measure to correct a problem they created last session when they exponentially increased fees for for filings in Superior Court and for appellate records and transcripts and another bill, that among other things changes from "shall" to "may" the requirement that local elected officials file electronically with the State Ethics Commission. (Turns out, to file electronically, one must have an email address, something a fair number of local officials lacked. That fact  is a discussion for another day.)

So far, other than the HOPE legislation, no hot-button bills have reached the Governor's desk. Nothing on abortion, immigration, or open government. But never fear, seven days is an eternity on the legislative clock, there's still plenty of time for nasty bills to slip through, and since this is but the first of a two year cycle - there's always next year. For this year, just to keep you on your toes through the end of session, from Georgia Legislative Watch, here's a list of the bills that survived crossover day. For all our sakes, let's hope most never see the Governor's desk.


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