12 March 2013

Democrats Trample the Traditions of the Georgia House

A long-standing tradition of the Georgia House of Representatives, under both Democrat and Republican leadership, is that local legislation receives a near unanimous vote of the full House if supported by the local delegation.

Local legislation is legislation that affects only a city or a county, and does not have a statewide impact.

The Rules of the House say, "If a majority of the members of the House whose districts are wholly or partially located within a political subdivision shall file with the chairman of the Committee on Intragovernmental Coordination their own rules as to the number of Representatives who must sign proposed legislation affecting that political subdivision before it will be favorably reported by the Committee on Intragovernmental Coordination, the committee shall observe such rules in considering such legislation. Otherwise, the committee shall not favorably report any legislation affecting a political subdivision unless all of the Representatives whose districts are wholly or partially located within the political subdivision shall sign such legislation" [Rule 18.1].

The Fulton County legislative delegation complied with the Rules of the House.

The Fulton County delegation filed with Intragovernmental Coordination Committee Chairman Chuck Sims their own rules as to the number of Representatives who must signed proposed legislation affecting Fulton County before it will be favorable reported by Chairman Sims' committee. Under those rules, "All members of the Fulton County House Delegation shall be eligible to sign legislation affecting Fulton County. A majority of those delegates eligible to sign must sign in order for any Fulton County legislation to pass."

I like to say, "We live by the Rules. We die by the Rules. Those are the rules."

Last week, a majority of delegates followed the Rules and signed off on legislation affecting only Fulton County. This legislation, House Bill 541, allows Fulton County voters to decide if increasing their homestead exemption from $30,000 to $60,000 over three years is right for them. House Bill 541 received the requisite number of signatures and support from the local Fulton County delegation. The bill was reported favorably out of the Committee on Intragovernmental Coordination with a "Do Pass" recommendation. And under the long-standing traditions of the Georgia House, House Bill 541 should have received wide, bipartisan support.

Unfortunately, Democrats did not respect the Georgia House. Democrats did not respect the traditions of the Georgia House. Democrats shattered those traditions when they failed to give their support to local legislation backed by the local delegation. Forty-five Democrats, over two-thirds of the House Democrat Caucus, voted against House Bill 541. Now these same Democrats who trampled the traditions of the Georgia House are angry because Republicans will not extend the courtesy of the House approving local bills until Democrats show the same for legislation affecting Fulton County.

The message is clear.

Respect the Georgia House of Representatives. Respect the traditions of the Georgia House, established under Democrats and continued under Republicans.

Democrats must uphold the traditions of the Georgia House, and allow local legislation supported by the local delegation to pass as they have done in the past.