The General Assembly wasn’t in session yesterday, but there was big news anyway. From the AJC’s Kristina Torres:
The GOP-controlled General Assembly came within reach Thursday of asking voters to revive the state’s ability to sponsor charter schools, when one of the Senate’s most venerable statesmen said he would buck his party and vote yes — as two others suggested they would strongly consider it.
State Sen. George Hooks, D-Americus, said he made his decision to vote for the measure on behalf of local parents stung by accreditation concerns involving the leadership of Sumter County Schools.
Sen. Curt Thompson, D-Tucker, said a yes vote would be consistent with his past support of charter schools. Sen. Hardie Davis, D-Augusta, said he would give the measure “strong consideration.” A vote on the measure is expected Monday in the Senate.
Republicans reportedly believed Davis was one of the Democrats on board with the amendment when they brought it to the floor two weeks ago, only to table it when it became clear the votes weren’t there. The decision by Hooks, the “Dean of the Senate,” may provide just the opening needed for other Democrats who are inclined to vote for the amendment but loath to go against a caucus position.
In fact, if it becomes clear that the caucus position has been broken, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the amendment pass the Senate with a few votes to spare — or by a narrower margin, but with some Republicans who didn’t really want to vote for it being let off the hook.
There just might be an election angle here. Redistricting in South Georgia put Hooks in the same Senate district as Sen. Freddie Powell Sims and, as far as I’m aware, Hooks has not announced whether he will retire or try to defeat his fellow Democrat. If it’s the latter, this would be a high-profile issue on which to stake out a different stance.
Either way, Monday could bring a big development on one of this session’s biggest issues.
– By Kyle Wingfield