UPDATED at 1:11 p.m.: The Sunday sales bill, SB 10, passed the Senate 32-22, after about three hours of debate. It moves on to the House, where support for the bill is believed to be high.
Today is Crossover Day at the Legislature, and I’ll be tweeting updates throughout the day. You can follow those here. Among the bills that appear early on the Senate’s docket are Sunday sales of alcohol and legislation to add foster kids and children of military families to the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship — the state’s voucher program, which would be renamed the Georgia Educational Freedom Act if the bill becomes law.
In the meantime, I’m curious what yesterday’s SPLOST votes in Cobb County and elsewhere mean for the prospects of the transportation sales tax, to be considered in a referendum next year. The “yes” votes won by an exceedingly small margin — 79 votes out of almost 43,000 cast. But that’s nothing new in Cobb: In 2005, the SPLOST passed by just 114 votes.
The difference between 2005 and yesterday is the tea party, which tried to mobilize anti-tax folks in Cobb but came up short in its goal. Turnout was fairly low, at 10.9 percent, but that’s the kind of election in which a small but motivated group ought to have an outsized influence.
The transportation sales tax may be a different story because it will get more attention and the anti-tax groups may be able to achieve more of a critical mass (since they will be organizing across 10 metro Atlanta counties). Unlike these other SPLOSTs, this will be a new tax rather than the extension of an existing one. And the SPLOST votes got in line first — meaning some voters might have been OK with one penny tax but not with another one.
The project list will be crucial, and there’s a lot of politics to be played out on that front between now and November 2012. Expect a big, expensive campaign from the business community and — assuming they work out their political differences — from local governments promoting the transportation tax.
The question we can’t answer yet is: What did the tea party folks, many of them new to this kind of politics, learn from yesterday’s votes?
Check back for updates from Crossover Day — and don’t forget to check the Twitter feed — but that ought to be enough grist for now.
– By Kyle Wingfield
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