You can soon stop guarding your wallets; the Georgia General Assembly is scheduled to wrap up another session this week; but not before dealing with several items still on the agenda. Legislators will be working feverishly in these final hours to ensure that their priorities are passed, so they can return home and crow to their constituents they have “done something.” Some of their constituents, however, may not be as enamored of what the Republican-controlled legislature has done this session as are the legislators themselves; particularly from the standpoint of diminishing their personal liberties.
Republicans gained full control of the legislature in 2005 after sitting in the minority since Reconstruction. They promised to rein in the size of state government, which they had complained had grown significantly under Democrats.
The criticism was well-founded, but Republicans have done nothing to alter the trend; in fact, they have accelerated it. Until the effects of the recession were fully felt in 2009, the Republican-controlled legislature had been passing billion dollar-increases in the state’s budget each year since taking power. On top of that, Republicans have sought to pass legislation to “protect” Georgians from all manner of perceived threats and ills.
This session’s list is particularly lengthy. From a constitutionally questionable immigration proposal, to a mandated DNA database for individuals merely arrested for a felony; and from a proposal that children as old as eight be required to sit in a toddler’s car seat, to a ban on synthetic bath salts — individual privacy and freedom have been battered by the GOP majority. Even law-abiding citizens who seek nothing more than to have a prescription filled at a local pharmacy, have been targeted by the state’s Republican legislators, who want to force pharmacists to report such previously private transactions to a state-controlled database.
Compared to all these freedom-diminishing measures, the few positive steps taken by the legislators – such as possibly allowing cities and counties to legalize Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages – pale in comparison.
- by Bob Barr, The Barr Code