Once they have gotten past the embarrassment of being canned from a House chairmanship, lawmakers often speak of a sense of liberation.
State Rep. Bobby Franklin of Cobb County, the former chairman of the House Reapportionment Committee, recently penned some free verse.
In this letter to House Republican caucus members, Franklin takes Republican issue with Speaker Glenn Richardson’s decision to slice the monthly salary of lawmakers by one day each month — a symbolic gesture to nervous state workers:
Dear fellow Caucus Members:
Yesterday we received a letter from Glenn about his proposed furloughing of ourselves and how we should “lead by example.” I find the “leading by example” rhetoric to be disingenuous. For years I have been calling attention to OCGA 50-3-3, which states in part that “the citizens of the state are requested to take the pledge of allegiance set out in Code Section 50-3-2″ and how we should “lead by example” by taking that pledge each morning when we are in session.
So now it appears that “leading by example” only applies if there are political points to be made.
As to the furloughing:
The Constitution of the State of Georgia, Article III, Section IV, Paragraph VI, states that “The Members of the General Assembly shall receive such salary as shall be provided for by law …”
Code Sections 28-1-8 and 45-7-4 provide for that salary.
So as the law currently stands, the only example we will [set] with a self-furlough is the breaking of the law.
So let me make a suggestion.
If there is a special session, ask the Governor to include in the call legislation allowing for the furloughing of elected officials during times of economic downturns.
Let’s lead by example by recognizing that we are not above the law.
We contacted the Speaker’s office to see if Richardson had a formal reaction. Instead, spokesman Marshall Guest gave us a copy of the letter the Speaker sent out to members last week — in which Richardson acknowledged the lack of precedent:
While there may be no clear legal authority to reduce the salary of General Assembly members during a term of office, I believe that there is a greater obligation for us, as leaders of this state, to carry part of the financial burden that we are asking of other state employees.
Although I understand this may create a financial hardship on some members, we are ever mindful that are actions may also create financial hardships to the employees and families of the employees who serve our state so faithfully….
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