Georgia Democratic Party Communications Director Eric Gray emailed the following statement this morning regarding the articles of impeachment introduced against Attorney General Thurbert Baker:
31 March 2010
Here it is for your consumption -- House Resolution 1866, a resolution bringing charges of impeachment against Thurbert E. Baker. The resolution is sponsored by Republican state Representatives Mark Hatfield, Bobby Franklin, Barry Loudermilk, Calvin Hill, Sean Jerguson and Michael Harden (among others).
Georgia Republicans are trying their hardest to hand the reins of power back to the Democrats.
Tuesday afternoon, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that state Rep. Mark Hatfield upped the ante in the feud between Attorney General Thurbert Baker (D - Georgia) and state GOPers opposed to the newly enacted health care law.
Thirty radical Republican legislators signed on to the impeachment resolution.
Baker, a candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, told the AJC that impeachment is not productive and does nothing to solve the myriad of problems facing the great state of Georgia.
He's right. Georgia has a billion dollar budget deficit and record-breaking unemployment. Yet the radical Republicans are distracting themselves from the major issues facing the Empire State of the South to focus on impeaching the elected Attorney General.
That's right. These articles of impeachment are a distraction. This senseless impeachment resolution, authored by state Rep. Mark Hatfield, is an attempt to make Georgians forget about the ethical lapses of the state GOP.
Four years ago, Sonny Perdue made history when he became the first Georgia Governor to be fined by the State Ethics Commission [Walker, Andre (2005-6-17). Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue Fined By The State Ethics Commission. Georgia Politics Unfiltered. Retrieved on 2010-3-30.]. Last year, former Speaker of the Georgia House Glenn Richardson resigned in disgrace due to an inappropriate relationship with a lobbyist [McCaffrey, Shannon (2009-12-3). Glenn Richardson RESIGNS: Georgia House Speaker Out After Attempted Suicide, Alleged Affair. The Huffington Post. Retrieved on 2010-3-30.].
Republican gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine is a regular target for unethical behavior. The Ox, as he is lovingly called, was investigated by the State Ethics Commission for taking $120,000 in illegal campaign contributions [Galloway, Jim (2009-10-15). Ethics commission refuses to drop John Oxendine investigation. Political Insider. Retrieved on 2010-3-30.]. There are reports that Oxendine used an investigation to pressure another Republican out of the gubernatorial campaign [McWhirter, Cameron and Galloway, Jim (2010-2-1). Did Oxendine use investigation to influence Westmoreland? Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved on 2010-3-30.].
Now former Congressman Nathan Deal, another GOP gubernatorial candidate, is in hot water with the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics for violating several House rules [Nathan Deal Ethics Report Finds Ex-Georgia Congressman Guilty Of Wrongdoing. The Huffington Post. Retrieved on 2010-3-30.].
Notice the pattern emerging in the Peach State?
Since Georgia Republicans became the majority party ten years ago, they have done nothing but line their pockets with cash or hook up with cute lobbyists in short skirts.
In other words, they're crooks. But the GOP does not want Georgians to remember that at the ballot box. That's why the radical Republicans have filed articles of impeachment against Attorney General Thurbert Baker.
It's a distraction, plain and simple.
30 March 2010
The Georgia House today proved once more that no bill is dead until the Speaker hammers the gavel down sine die.
House Bill 927 --the anti-bullying bill sponsored by state Rep. Mike Jacobs-- did not cross over on the thirtieth legislative day, putting its prospects of passing in jeopardy.
However, Rep. Jacobs offered an amendment to Senate Bill 250 that essentially attached his anti-bullying legislation to the underlying bill.
The House approved Jacobs' amendment on a vote of 95 to 55, resurrecting the anti-bullying bill and sending it to the Senate.
SB 250, as amended, passed the House 119 to 45.
"This has always been a political witch hunt fueled by Democrats who fear that Roy Barnes will lose the governor's race to Nathan Deal," said Deal spokesman Harris Blackwood [Dupree, Jamie (2010-3-30). The Ethics Deal. Jamie Dupree'sWashington Insider. Retrieved on 2010-3-30.].
Reading about the ethics troubles of former Congressman Nathan Deal suddenly had me thinking of a "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" episode:
First things first, Nathan Deal needs to accept personal responsibility for his actions. And, he needs to stop stealing lines from old "Fresh Prince" episodes.
29 March 2010
The Marin Institute, an alcohol industry watchdog based in California, called on state legislatures to consider raising the beer tax instead of making "draconian cuts" to budgets or essential services.
"More than half the states have not raised beer excise taxes in at least two decades. Legislators are ignoring a lot of revenue their states could use right now," stated Marin Institute's Research and Policy Director Michele Simon.
A Marin Institute study says Georgia has not raised its beer tax in over 45 years. The institute's advocacy director thinks that is because of big alcohol's powerful influence over lawmakers.
"This is graphic proof that Big Alcohol lobbying efforts are extremely effective at preventing sound public policy and balanced state budgets," said Michael Scippa, advocacy director at Marin Institute. "Their well-funded influence peddling is especially effective when coupled with generous campaign contributions."
I hate to be the bearer of bad new to the Marin Institute, but no one is raising the beer tax. Why? Because beer is the working man's drinking, and working men vote. Any legislator considering raising the beer tax is purchasing a one-way ticket to defeat at the ballot box.
To quote the immortal Al Bundy, "Don't tax beer."
Speaker of the Georgia House David Ralston (R - Blue Ridge) is hosting a town hall meeting Tuesday at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park.
The meeting is scheduled for 7PM.
The Emory Law Democrats will be sponsoring a gubernatorial debate featuring the Democratic candidates for governor. The following candidates are confirmed to attend:
- Attorney General Thurbert Baker
- House Minority Leader Dubose Porter
- Ray City Mayor Carl Camon
- Former Secretary of State David Poythress
A catered networking reception will follow the debate.
For more information, contact Alex Bissel or Christian Gant.
27 March 2010
. . . Because primaries matter.
Blue America PAC today threw its weight behind former state Sen. Regina Thomas in the 12th congressional district Democratic primary. Thomas is challenging three-term Congressman John Barrow.
Blue America also asked supporters to donate money towards getting the following ad on television:
Howie Klein, speaking on behalf of Blue America, cited John Barrow's vote against the health care bill and Thomas' long record of advocating for working families as the reason behind the endorsement.
26 March 2010
The drama of Crossover Day continued as state Rep. Austin Scott, a GOP candidate for governor, introduced a resolution directing Attorney General Thurbert Baker to challenge the constitutionality of the newly enacted health care law.
H.R. 1824 is co-sponsored by House Speaker David Ralston.
The bill, which is intended to be a joint resolution by the House and Senate, would have the force of law if adopted by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor.
House Bill 1393, the bill that would allow Clayton County to levy an additional 1% sales tax for transportation, is on the debate calendar.
The House Rules Committee met earlier this morning and sent twelve more bills to the House floor including HB 1393.
Clayton County state Representative Roberta Abdul-Salaam (D - Riverdale) expressed optimism that her bill would pass. She also repeated her call for the Clayton County Commission to rescind its vote to shut down C-TRAN at the end of the month.
Abdul-Salaam is also a co-sponsor of a nonbinding referendum on MARTA in Clayton County. When asked why the referendum did not carry the force of law, Abdul-Salaam said that only the Clayton County Commission could authorize a binding MARTA referendum.
However, she said, the referendum might give county commissioners the will to authorize a binding MARTA referendum after hearing the people's voice at the ballot box.
Crossover Day --the legislative day where the patience of lawmakers, lobbyists and the general public-- is tested starts at 9AM this morning.
Georgia Legislative Watch, Georgia Liberal, Peach Pundit, SWGA Politics and this site (pretty much every major blog in the state) will be live blogging the day's events.
The live blogging mayhem begins now.
If the blog MyDD.com is already on your list of daily reads, then you've probably noticed a few of my entries on the front page.
If you've never heard of MyDD, then let me share with you a little bit about the site:
This is going to be fun.
25 March 2010
Here's a press release from the Secretary of State:
Once again, these elections are to determine who'll have the "I" listed next to their name in November.
With his vote against the health care bill Sunday, Congressman John Barrow (D - Georgia) earned the ire of Democrats in his district. Now there's talk of a serious challenge against Barrow in the July primary.
The Savannah Morning News reported Wednesday that local state legislators have either endorsed former state Sen. Regina Thomas or yanked their support from Barrow entirely [Peterson, Larry (2010-3-24). Black backlash against health care vote looms over Barrow's re-election prospects. Savannah Morning News. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.].
State Reps. Bob Bryant and Mickey Stephens, for example, are now backing Regina Thomas.
The question, however, is if Democrats can hold on to Barrow's seat if he's defeated in the primary.
Remember that episode of Seinfeld where Morty got impeached over some trumped-up charges? Something like that is happening at the state Capitol these days.
Citing the need to waste time and tax dollars, Republican state lawmakers began looking into the possibility of impeaching Attorney General Thurbert Baker (D - Georgia) for his refusal to file suit against the newly enacted health care law.
Gov. Sonny Perdue (R - Georgia) and the state's GOP congressional delegation called on Attorney General Baker to join thirteen other state attorneys general across the nation in challenging the new health care law's constitutionality.
"I am today renewing my December request to the Attorney General that he join other states in reviewing the constitutionality of this travesty. My office has already begun to review any and all legal options to challenge this legislation," Perdue said in a news release Monday.
"The Democrats' health care bill is nothing less than an unmitigated attack on individual freedom, choices, and the quality of health care in this nation," said Congressman Tom Price (R - Georgia). "Families in Georgia deserve to have their constitutional rights protected against a federal government that is imposing its will through new mandates."
Price chairs the Republican Study Committee, a group of over 115 congressional Republicans organized for the purpose of advancing a conservative social and economic agenda in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Attorney General Baker responded to Price and Perdue thusly:
According to Atlanta Journal-Constitution political insider Jim Galloway, Baker's response prompted a group of GOP state legislators to consider articles of impeachment against the Attorney General [Galloway, Jim (2010-3-24). An 'impeach Thurbert Baker' movement?. Political Insider. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.].
Georgia, much like most states in the union, is facing a sizable budget deficit [McCaffrey, Shannon (2010-1-8). At Georgia Capitol, 2010 Looks Bleak. ABC News. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.]. Our unemployment rate has exceeded the national average for 29 straight months. Our Republican-controlled legislature suffers from a significant lack of ethics [McCaffrey, Shannon (2009-12-3). Georgia House Speaker Out After Attempted Suicide, Alleged Affair. The Huffington Post. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.]. And our roads are becoming increasingly clogged. Still the Republicans want to spend their time --excuse me, the people's time and the people's money-- on impeachment.
For the past few days, I've heard the GOP castigate Democrats for allegedly subverting the will of the people by passing the health care law. Yet here the Republicans are, in Georgia, contemplating the removal of an elected official (Baker was first elected attorney general in 1998, and won re-election in 2002 & 2006 garnering 55.6% and 57.2% of the vote respectively) for not getting the people of Georgia involved in a frivolous and money-burning lawsuit.
Talk about a case of do as I say and not as I Perdue.
The Savannah Morning News reports that State Rep. Burke Day (R - Tybee) is not seeking another term in the legislature.
With all these resignations and retirements, I think it's time to start tracking who's leaving and who's staying.
An inquiring mind shot me an email Wednesday evening asking about the 2010 U.S. Senate race here in Georgia and whether Democrats planned on contesting the seat.
Recent polls suggest the Republican incumbent, Johnny Isakson, is vulnerable.
Public Policy Polling says that only 36% of Georgians approve of Isakson's job performance [Jensen, Tom (2010-3-2). Isakson Vulnerable?. Public Policy Polling. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.]. 65% of Georgians think the country would be better if incumbents were sent home according to Rasmussen Reports [Election 2010: Georgia Senate. Rasmussen Reports. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.].
The common thread in each of these surveys implied that Democrats might defeat Isakson if a "serious" candidate jumped in the race.
I suggest to you that R.J. Hadley is the serious candidate.
R.J. is connected to the grassroots. Before announcing his candidacy for U.S. Senate, Hadley served as communications chairman for the Rockdale County Democratic Party. R.J. knows how to win. Two years ago, he was part of the team that turned traditionally Republican Rockdale County Democratic. Two years ago, all of Rockdale County's elected officials were Republican. Now, Democrats hold a majority on the county commission including county commission chair.
R.J. told the Thomasville Times-Enterprise last month, "Some people are still waiting for the big name to enter the race, but I’m here and I’m stepping forward." [Lastinger, Mark (2010-2-27). Hadley Eager To Serve. Thomasville Times-Enterprise. Retrieved on 2010-3-25.] Candidate qualifying here in the Empire State of the South opens next month, and the so-called "big name" has yet to emerge. With 118 days left until the July 20th Democratic primary, R.J. Hadley is the big name candidate in this race.
Since first announcing his candidacy last September, R.J. has visited between thirty and forty counties; attended countless Democratic Party meetings and events; and even walked into a few Tea Party meetings with the simple message that even though we disagree, I'm running to represent all the people including you. Visit www.hadleyforussenate.com to learn more about R.J. Hadley's campaign.
23 March 2010
I haven't heard about this many Republicans resigning from office since learning about the Watergate scandal in high school.
Seriously though, two GOP legislators left the Georgia General Assembly Tuesday to focus on their campaigns for Congress in the 9th congressional district.
The open seat was created after Nathan Deal resigned in order to run for governor full time.
State Rep. Tom Graves and State Sen. Lee Hawkins both resigned today. Peach Pundit has the press release from Graves, and below is an excerpt from the Hawkins announcement:
2nd district Congressman Sanford Bishop (D - Albany) didn't have to wait long for criticism on his vote in favor of the health care bill signed into law Tuesday by President Obama.
Republican challenger Mike Keown said Bishop was "out-of-touch" and pledged to repeal the new law if elected to Congress.
"The bill is too expensive. It will raise taxes, kill jobs in Southwest Georgia, push our country further into debt, and force new government mandates on states and small businesses. At a time when we have record unemployment in Georgia this bill is wrong for Georgia and America," Keown said. "When the voters of Southwest Georgia send Sanford back home in November, I will vote to repeal this law."
Two Democratic gubernatorial candidates weighed in on the news that Georgia may be without a way to fund transportation projects due to a stalemate in the state legislature.
The Atlanta Business Chronicle recently reported that for the third consecutive legislative session, a viable transportation plan may fail.
Former Gov. Roy Barnes said the news served as an example of a leadership failure under the Gold Dome.
"If the Governor wants to pass it, it gets passed," Barnes said. "Unfortunately we've had an administration and leadership in the General Assembly that does not think mass transit is important, and it is."
Former Georgia National Guard Adjutant General David Poythress echoed those sentiments while also suggesting that lawmakers are too afraid of being labled "tax and spenders" to get anything done.
"I think this comes down, fundamentally, to a question of leadership," Poythress said. "The current leadership is so afraid that they are going to be tagged as a tax and spend administration that they have been unwilling to do anything even with the consent and the approval of the voters."
The Democratic Party of Georgia filed its March monthly FEC campaign report, and. . .
. . .well, you tell me if these fundraising numbers are encouraging:
(as of February 28, 2010)
| || |
|Democratic Party of Georgia|| || || || |
[SOURCE: Federal Elections Commission]
Just in case you're curious, here's the Georgia GOP FEC report for the same period ending February 28, 2010.
Monday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Poythress called on former Gov. Roy Barnes to exit the governor's race "for the good of the Party."
I caught up with former Gov. Barnes at the Georgia World Congress Center Monday night, and asked him to respond to the Poythress campaign's renewed call for him to drop out of the governor's race.
"I don't have any response," Barnes said. "I don't talk about other candidates. I run my own platform and I'll let the people decide on July 20th."
[EDITOR'S NOTE]: I've got a lot of audio that I'm reviewing from last night's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner including interviews with Roy Barnes and David Poythress about the two major issues of the 2010 campaign -- jobs and transportation. I'm working on getting those blog entries up as soon as I can.
Monday, March 22nd, the state Democratic Party held its annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraiser at the Georgia World Congress Center.
Democratic Party of Georgia Communications Director Eric Gray said 1,500 people were present to see outgoing Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin receive the "Georgia Giant" award, and hear from Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine -- which brings me to the quote of the day:
"The Georgia governor's race is very appealing to us. We think we can take this office back."
-DNC Chairman Tim Kaine
Kaine was introduced by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
With Clayton County Transit (or C-TRAN) shutting down in a matter of days, all options should be explored to keep people riding what could be their only way of getting around.
At the state Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner Monday night, state Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam (D - Riverdale) told me about a bill she had drafted to allow Clayton County residents to vote on joining MARTA. The only problem is that the referendum is nonbinding.
House Bill 1446 presents the following question to Clayton County voters in the July 20th primary election:
"Should Clayton County become a full participant in MARTA (the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) and levy a sales tax in support of MARTA and Clayton County's public transportation needs?"
This referendum is a good thing, but let's put some teeth behind it. Let's make H.B. 1446 a binding referendum.
I believe that Clayton County voters will overwhelming approve joining MARTA. I believe that if folks know that the most they'll be inconvenienced without public transportation is the few months it takes to implement the results of the binding MARTA referendum, it will be more palatable to them because they'll know that hope is just over the horizon.
Let's make this vote binding and start creating a truly regional mass transit system.
22 March 2010
Crossover Day, one of the longest legislative days of the year, has been moved from Thursday to Friday.
The Georgia House & Senate today adopted Senate Resolution 1322 which sets the 29th and 30th legislative days for Wednesday, March 23rd and Friday, March 26th. The legislature will not be in session on Tuesday of this week.
In addition, S.R. 1322 has the General Assembly in recess for the week of April 5th which is also spring break for many local school systems.
Crossover Day is the day by which legislation must pass one chamber in order to have a chance at becoming law.
Citing polls and the need for Democrats to avoid a divisive gubernatorial primary, David Poythress called on former Gov. Roy Barnes to end his campaign for the Governor's Mansion. Below is the press release:
For the last two legislative sessions, I've sat in the Senate Press Gallery and watched in disappointment as the Georgia General Assembly failed to pass a comprehensive transportation plan for this state. This year, despite support from Gov. Perdue, it does not appear that the third time will be the charm.Allow me to be candid here.
If state lawmakers fail for a third time to pass a transportation funding bill, the 2010 legislative session will be nothing short of a failure in my eyes.
The Athens Banner Herald examines the redistricting process that is to come after this year's census is completed, and the news isn't good for rural Georgia.So the 2010 census isn't even done yet, and legislators are already thinking about redistricting.
In 2011, there will be a special session to redraw the legislative maps. During that special session, there will plenty of time to talk about maps. Right now, Georgia has a budget crisis. We've got a water crisis. We've got a transportation crisis too. And a record number of this state's citizens are out of work.
Let's keep our eye on the ball here.
21 March 2010
Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey issued the following statement in response to the Sunday night health care vote:
Sunday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved President Obama's health care reform bill. Here's how Georgia's congressional delegation voted:
Georgia State Senator Lee Hawkins issued the following statement in reaction to Sunday night's vote on the health care bill. Hawkins is a candidate for Congress in Georgia's 9th district.
Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland issued the following statement on the health care vote Sunday evening:
This is it.
Today is the day.
No, I'm not talking about the health care bill.
I'm talking about the Peachtree Road Race. Today, registration opens for an annual Atlanta tradition. I've completed seven Peachtrees, and now I'm ready to sign up for number eight.
Registration for the world's largest 10K opens up Sunday afternoon at 1PM. The first 45,000 who sign up online are automatically in. The remaining 10,000 will be randomly selected from among those who complete the paper application that will appear in the March 28th Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
For more info, visit ajc.com/peachtree.
20 March 2010
It is being reported that congressional Democrats have dropped the bad parliamentary procedure known as the Slaughter Solution; the method by which the U.S. House would "deem" the Senate health care bill passed without a direct roll call vote [Montgomery, Lori (2010-3-20). House leaders plan separate health vote, rejecting 'deem and pass'. Washington Post. Retrieved on 2010-3-20.].
As I said earlier this week, the Slaughter Solution was a bad rule that needed to be voted down. The news that this sleazy parliamentary trick won't even be considered is encouraging. It means that basic rules of order will be adhered to.
Amend the bill. Pass the bill as amended. Send it back to the U.S. Senate for its consideration. If the Senate agrees to the House amendments, then the bill goes to the President's desk. If the Senate disagrees and the House insists on its position, then appoint a Committee of Conference to negotiate a final piece of legislation.
That is how bills are supposed to be passed. That is how the Georgia General Assembly passes bills. That's what is taught on those old School House Rock tapes we all grew up watching.
It is now official.
Georgia State Senator David Adelman (D - Atlanta) was confirmed by the U.S. Senate Friday to be ambassador to the Republic of Singapore.
Adelman was confirmed by unanimous consent of the Senate without any opposition.
A special election will be held to fill Adelman's seat in the Georgia Senate.
[UPDATE]: Call Rep. David Scott at (202) 225-2939, (770) 210-5073 or (770) 432-5405; and tell him to vote "NO" on the Slaughter Solution and the underlying health care bill.
As a resident of Georgia's thirteenth congressional district, I figured that it is past time for me to let my U.S. Representative know how I want him to vote on the health care bill.
Let me start by saying that this whole process stinks to the high heavens.
The Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase, the Gator Aid and now the Slaughter Solution suggests that the Democratic Party is so desperate for a so-called political victory that they are willing to pass any health care bill by hook and by crook.
That is no way to legislate. It is what I'd call legislating for politics rather than legislating for the people.
So I'm asking my Congressman to join his Democratic congressional colleagues Jim Marshall and John Barrow in voting no on the health care bill.
Congressman Scott, vote no on the health care bill and start over.
To quote John Barrow, "I am strongly in favor of reforming the health care system, but I don’t think this bill is going to do it, and therefore I can’t support it."
"We can do better and I’m ready to start."
19 March 2010
For the month of February, Georgia Republicans raised six figures and increased their overall cash-on-hand total to more than $1.7 million.
(as of February 28, 2010)
| || |
| Georgia Republican |
| || || || |
[SOURCE: Federal Elections Commission]
The Democratic Party of Georgia has yet to file their monthly report with the FEC.
The office of Congressman Sanford Bishop might not have revealed that the south Georgia Democrat is still unsure on how he will vote on the $940 billion health care bill.
After reading this article, liberals and conservatives are bound to flood Congressman Bishop's phone lines urging him to vote their way.
Take the phone off the hook. Don't be pressured by the unions. Don't worry about by those nitwits at MoveOn.org. Vote your constituents on the health care bill.
18 March 2010
With all the pressing issues facing the state this year, it certainly is nice to know that a few lawmakers are keeping their eye on the ball with critical legislation that will move Georgia forward.
A group of legislators led by House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones (R - Milton) have introduced a bill that will name a stretch of road in north Fulton County Mark Burkhalter Parkway.
Here are some of the highlights from House Resolution 1685:
Georgia unemployment is in the double-digits. The state doesn't have a plan for transportation or water. And education is on the chopping block, but Jan Jones et al. have enough time to draft bills naming roads after people. Really?
I mean really? What are these legislators thinking? Really? Do they actually think this is a good use of our tax dollars? Really? Really?!?!
In thirteen days, Clayton County Transit (C-TRAN) will be no more.
Yet there is still hope that March 31st will not mark the end of public transit in the south metro Atlanta county.
MARTA Assistant General Manager Ryland McClendon proposed a solution to ClayCo's mass transit woes that I've been advocating in favor of for the last few months -- bring MARTA to Clayton County.
While MARTA cannot use any of its money for C-TRAN, in one scenario MARTA could be part of a solution: if it went into Clayton County.
"We would say to them the consideration of putting it to the voters as to whether or not they would be willing to pay a one cent sales tax that would allow MARTA to operate in Clayton County is a solution that could be explored," McClendon said.
Watson, Jaye (2010-3-17). MARTA Penny Tax Could Bring Service to Clayton County. WXIA-TV. Retrieved on 2010-3-18.
What the heck are Clayton County's elected officials waiting for? Time is a luxury they don't have.
Over the last few days, left-wing Georgia bloggers have been justifying the so-called "Slaughter Solution" as a means to pass the yet-to-be-seen health care reform bill.
At Georgia Liberal, Brett called those opposed to the Slaughter Solution "ill-informed fools" [Brett (2010-3-16). The Self-Executing Rule — How to Pass Health Care. Georgia Liberal. Retrieved on 2010-3-18.]. And Johnathan of Beyond The Trestle described the Slaughter Solution as "a perfectly reasonable and acceptable procedural method" [Johnathan (2010-3-16). Common sense and procedural rules. Beyond The Trestle. Retrieved on 2010-3-18.].
For those unfamiliar, the Slaughter Solution is a parliamentary trick being considered by Democratic congressional leaders to pass health care reform without actually voting on it. Essentially, the House Rules Committee --chaired by New York Rep. Louise Slaughter-- would adopt a rule deeming the Senate health care bill passed without a formal roll call vote.
Conservatives have been up in arms over this sketchy move with some even questioning its constitutionality [Barbash, Fred (2010-3-16). ‘Slaughter Solution’ could face legal challenge. Politico. Retrieved on 2010-3-18.].
Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Cynthia Tucker weighed in on the discussion Wednesday afternoon, but her stance on the Slaughter Solution was not the one most would expect.
Tucker, a widely-accepted liberal, declared that "deem is dumb." Earlier this week, I called on Georgia's Democratic congressional delegation to vote down the Slaughter Solution and vote their conscience on the underlying health care bill [Walker, Andre (2010-3-15). GA Dems: Vote Down The Rule, Vote Your Conscience On Health Care Reform. Georgia Politics Unfiltered. Retrieved on 2010-3-15.]. I am repeating that call today because the Slaughter Solution is, as Cynthia Tucker suggests, a cowardly act.
It is a bad rule and needs to be defeated.
Vote down the rule. Vote your conscience on health care reform.
17 March 2010
Earlier today, I highlighted the abysmal unemployment rate in Hancock County --23.5% as of January-- and spoke of the need for both parties to focus on job creation in the black community.
While I wrote that post, I became curious as to how many other counties in Georgia were like Hancock. I wanted to know how many counties were majority black, and what the unemployment rate was in each of those places. After gathering numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau and the state Department of Labor, I had my answer.
A total of twenty Georgia counties have a majority black population. In all but five of those counties, the unemployment rate exceeds the state level. The highest percentage of unemployed came from Hancock County followed by Warren, Washington, Taliaferro and Jefferson counties.
This should matter to the Democratic Party of Georgia, and any candidate running statewide in the Democratic primary, because collectively these twenty counties account for a quarter of the vote in the Democratic primary. Below is a stat sheet backing up that claim:
I am willing to bet that if you ask the voters in these twenty counties what their number one issue is, they will say job creation. Any candidate running in the Democratic primary, especially those candidates for governor, should recognize that the nomination will be won or lost in these twenty counties.
So, Thurbert Baker, Roy Barnes, Carl Camon, DuBose Porter, David Poythress, what's the plan? What is your plan to lower unemployment and create jobs in these twenty battleground counties?
Your candidacy literally depends on your answer to that question.
This just in from the campaign of Democrat Ken Hodges:
After an unexpectedly short debate, the Georgia Senate failed by four votes to give SR 794 the two-thirds constitutional majority for passage.
However, notice was served that a motion to reconsider (a vote to re-vote) would occur on the next legislative day.
Health care bill full of hidden surprises
By Lynn Westmoreland
There are a lot things in the government takeover of health care that my constituents – and most Americans – don’t like.
But liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave us subtle warning last week that there’s plenty more hidden in there.
“We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” she said in a speech to county commissioners.
Let me get this straight: We’ve debated health care change for a year, and on the week of the final vote we’re told there are some surprises?
What we do know is bad enough. If we’re appalled by what they’re willing to tell us about, how scary are the policies and backroom deals that they’re hiding from us?
House Democratic Whip James Clyburn (S.C.), the majority’s top vote-counter, said Sunday on Meet the Press that his caucus didn’t yet have the 216 “yes” votes needed for passage.
I’m not sure what’s worse: knowing they have the votes to pass it or knowing they’re just short of having the votes to pass this monstrosity. That’s because we’ve seen what happens when they need extra votes. They buy them with taxpayer dollars, usually in ways that are shockingly unfair to most Americans.
The bill that the House will consider is the Senate bill passed on Christmas Eve, when most voters were safely distracted by travel plans, church services, family dinners and last-minute shopping.
What you may remember from that bill are the huge payoffs for certain states: the Cornhusker Kickback, the Louisiana Purchase and Gator Aid for Florida. There are also political payoffs for unions.
If the House passes the Senate bill, all of these deals will become law – even though not one single person will stand up and defend those outrageous items.
How bad is this Senate bill? Speaker Pelosi admitted Monday that she may resort to parliamentary gimmicks that subvert the democratic process because “no one wants to vote for the Senate bill.”
Well, they shouldn’t vote for it. House Democrats are hearing clearly from their constituents that Americans don’t want this bill. Even beyond the unseemly political payoffs, there are many substantive reasons to oppose this bill. It raises taxes by billions of dollars and includes more than $1 trillion in new spending we can’t afford, cuts Medicare benefits by half a billion dollars, kills jobs by placing mandates on employers, puts health care decisions in the hands of the government instead of the patient, ignores lawsuit abuse, and allows for taxpayer funding of abortion.
With all of these unpopular provisions, it’s little wonder that House Democratic leaders are trying to pull every trick in the book, including an effort to pass the bill without actually voting on it. It’s a strategy stunning for its arrogance and lack of regard for the constitutional process.
Just Sunday, White House adviser David Axelrod said, “I think we're going to have a vote, and the American people are entitled to an up or down vote. We don't want to see procedural gimmicks used to try and prevent an up or down vote on this issue.”
I agree Americans deserve and honest up or down vote on the floor of the House, free of gimmicks. If Democrats are going to pass a bill for a government takeover of 17 percent of our economy, they should have the courage and decency to stand up and cast their votes for it.
Lynn Westmoreland (R-Grantville) represents Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District.
Wednesday morning, State Representative Harry Geisinger (R - Roswell) touted a new poll commissioned by the Georgia Equine Education Project (GEEP) that says 47% of Georgia voters would be in favor of allowing the people of Georgia to vote in a referendum on whether or not betting on horseracing in Georgia should be allowed under the law.
"At a time when we need to attract new, high-revenue businesses to Georgia, I am glad to see that the people would favor a referendum on allowing them to vote up or down on whether to bring this job creating engine to our state. The bottom line is this can help bring jobs and close our revenue hole in the long run," Geisinger said. "Once we have the opportunity to present the facts to the people, I feel confident that Georgians will move overwhelmingly to support bringing horseracing to our state. The poll showed that people are 57% more likely to support horse racing if part of the proceeds go to the HOPE Scholarship and other education efforts, which is in fact, already in our bill."
State Rep. Geisinger is the chief sponsor of House Bill 1168, a bill that would permit horse race betting in Georgia.
The survey conducted by Duluth-based Landmark Communications had a sampling size of 1,134 Georgia voters. The poll said that 47% favor a referendum on horse race betting with 38% opposed. In addition, only 26% of those questioned view horse racing as immoral.
Senate Bill 406, a bill that would allow Georgians to register to vote securely online, is on the debate calendar today in the state Senate.
SB 406 is supported by Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
“This common sense, secure online voter registration initiative will utilize technology to increase citizen access to elections, save Georgia taxpayer dollars, and prevent voter registration fraud,” Kemp said.
A lot of attention is being directed towards the health care bill currently under consideration in Congress. Democrats in the U.S. House are busy scurrying around for the votes to pass a measure that they say would provide health insurance to more tha 30 million Americans.
If the bill becomes law, however, a proposed amendment to Georgia's constitution might allow people to opt out of any health insurance plan without penalty from the government.
Senate Resolution 794, sponsored by Republican Judson Hill, is scheduled to be debated today. SR 794, the Health Care Freedom of Choice Amendment, says " no law or rule or regulation shall compel any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system."
"Our country was founded on individual freedom and liberty, and no government should be able to compel its citizens to only use certain doctors or restrict people from purchasing private health care or health insurance,” said Sen. Judson Hill. "Socialized health care will not solve our health care challenges. I will continue to work to make sure that all Georgians have access to high quality health care at affordable rates." [Update on the Health Care Freedom of Choice amendment. Georgia Legislative Watch. Retrieved on 2010-3-17.]
SR 794 needs 38 votes in the Senate and 120 votes in the House in order to appear on the ballot this fall.
Matt Towery, the Chairman & CEO of Insider Advantage Georgia, posted a video Monday discussing the prospects of Milton County clearing the legislature this year and appearing on the ballot in November.
Here's the money quote from Towery:
"My sources at the Capitol tell me right now that Milton County has a much better chance of becoming a reality, or at least having an opportunity to become a reality, than anyone could possibly imagine. Right now, it looks like Milton County is at least probably going to make it out of one chamber . . . it has a lot more in terms of its legs than anyone seems to realize."
Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones is no fool and she's not stupid. The only way HR 21 hits the House floor is if Speaker Pro Tempore Jones has the votes. If HR 21 appears on any Rules Calendar between now and Crossover Day, rest assured Jan Jones has hit the magic number of 120.
For the last thirteen months, the state unemployment rate has steadily increased from 8.4% in January 2009 to 10.4% one year later [SOURCE: Georgia Department of Labor]. In the black community, unemployment is nearly double the overall rate.
Wednesday, a Macon television station put a face to black unemployment. In majority black Hancock County, joblessness has skyrocketed to more than 20%.
The number one question blacks should be asking these candidates running office is how are they going to lower the African-American unemployment rate.
There are sixteen individuals hoping to succeed Sonny Perdue as Georgia's governor. The Republican candidates seem to be focused on taxes. The Democrats seem to be focused on ethics. I have yet to hear a single candidate --from either party-- focus solely on putting Georgians back to work.
It is time for black community leaders to send a message to Democrats and Republicans. Do not come asking for our endorsement unless you have a concrete plan to get black folks a job.
23.5 percent unemployment is unacceptable.
It's never a good thing when C-SPAN, the non-partisan Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, subtly suggests that congressional Democrats are avoiding transparency and openness by crafting a huge health care bill away from the public eye behind closed doors.
Here's a screenshot from the front page of C-SPAN.org:
We all remember the last time C-SPAN inserted itself into a debate on open government [Walker, Andre (2010-1-5). C-SPAN CEO Asks Pelosi & Reid For Transparent Health Care Coverage. Georgia Politics Unfiltered. Retrieved on 2010-3-17.]. It was not pretty. The universal opinion at the time was that if C-SPAN had issues with transparency and openness, then the process was not open and transparent enough.
This week is Sunshine Week; a week dedicated to "opening a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information." [SOURCE: Sunshine Week.org]
Tuesday afternoon, President Obama issued a statement pledging his continued support for open government. The statement read in part: If the President's words are to be believed, then let the sunshine in on the Rules Committee. If Democrats are committed to the most honest, most open and most transparent government ever (and I believe we are), then let the cameras into the room and allow the American people the opportunity to see their government at work.
16 March 2010
The campaign of Republican Doug MacGinnitie is claiming momentum after winning its eighth straw poll conducted by local GOP organizations. Tuesday morning, the MacGinnitie campaign proclaimed victory in the Union County Republican Party straw poll held March 13th.
"I am honored and excited to have won the straw poll in Union County," stated MacGinnitie. "It is affirmation that our campaign is continuing to build momentum and strong grassroots support across the state."
MacGinnitie received 57% of the votes cast in the poll, well ahead of the 36% Secretary of State Brian Kemp tallied [SOURCE: Union County Republican Party Straw Poll Results].
"This win reaffirms the belief that Georgians are not looking for another career politician, but rather a successful businessman with private sector experience,” stated MacGinnitie. “Our straw poll victories are a testament to our campaign’s ability to organize a network of dedicated citizens who believe in our vision for fair and honest elections and job growth.”
The MacGinnitie campaign said that, in addition to the Union County win, they've racked up GOP straw poll victories in Cobb, DeKalb, Glynn, Henry, Muscogee and Walker counties.
House Resolution 21, the proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the re-creation of previously existing counties that were merged into another county, is on the House Rules Committee Consideration Calendar.
The consideration calendar contains legislation that the House Rules Committee deliberates on before sending the measure to the full House for debate and a vote.
HR 21 is being considered under the structured rule which means that no amendments to the bill can be made from the floor.
With "Crossover Day" scheduled for March 25th, HR 21 must clear the House by that date if it is to have any chance of passing this year.
In an op-ed appearing on the pages of the Athens Banner-Herald Tuesday, the paper's editorial board brought more attention to the possible budget cuts to higher education in Georgia [Athens Banner-Herald (2010-3-16). Editorial: Student protest brings reality to budget debate. Athens Banner-Herald. Retrieved on 2010-3-16.].
There's just one problem with their editorial. House Speaker David Ralston is a Republican, not a Democrat. Although, I am pretty sure that the state Democratic Party would welcome Ralston with open arms. Here's the screenshot from the Athens Banner-Herald errant editorial:
Monday afternoon, 4th district Congressman Hank Johnson called on Democratic members of Congress to "unite behind President Obama’s plan for health care reform."
"It’s time to bring home affordable health care for the American people," said Congressman Johnson. "This has been a century coming. Americans who are sick should get the care they need, free from unnecessary fear of destitution or death."
Johnson is part of the team that is busy rounding up votes for the health care bill. The DeKalb County Congressman serves in the House leadership as Regional Whip for the southeast.
15 March 2010
Roll Call reports this afternoon that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is "considering a rule that would deem the Senate [health care reform] bill enacted when the reconciliation bill containing a series of 'fixes' is passed on the House floor."This rule that Speaker Pelosi is considering doesn't pass the smell test. In my gut, it feels very undemocratic. Having a little experience with the legislative process, I can tell you that much like there are bad bills, there are also bad rules.
The Hawks rule in the Georgia House of Representatives certainly qualified as a bad rule. So did the rule pushed through by former House Speaker Glenn Richardson that barred members of the media from the House floor. The rule that would prevent an up-or-down vote on the Senate health care bill is a bad procedural rule, and Democrats should not be resorting to these sort of parliamentary tricks just to pass this health care reform bill.
Either the legislation has the votes or it doesn't.
If the bill has the votes, that's great. Pass the legislation, and be done with it. However, if the bill does not have the votes, then it probably is a bad bill. And bad bills should be sent back to committee for further study or changes.
The Democratic members of Georgia's congressional delegation need not support this rule. John Barrow, Sanford Bishop, Hank Johnson, John Lewis, Jim Marshall and David Scott need to vote down this bad rule. They can vote their conscience on the underlying health care bill, but this rule being considered by Speaker Pelosi needs to be defeated.
Nothing good can come of it.
Sunday, Dick Williams announced on the public affairs program "The Georgia Gang" that polling agency Strategic Vision had new numbers on the state's gubernatorial campaign.
Below are the results which are based on telephone interviews with 800 likely voters in Georgia, aged 18+, and conducted March 5-8, 2010 by telephone. The margin of sampling error is ±3.5 percentage points.