State Rep. Clay Cox of Lilburn has become the first Republican to enter the House race for speaker pro tem, the No. 2 position in the chamber.
I do so because I believe that the new brand of leadership in our caucus, and for our cause, should look and act differently. If we truly want to move our agenda of conservative constitutionalism forward, we must do so in a way that says to our citizens that the partying-mentality is over. We must get down to serious business. The challenges we face demand nothing less.
Cox also cites his past leadership positions in the House — chief deputy whip and a floating ex officio member of all committees — and closes with this thought:
You also know that I go home at night to my wife and children- and that will not change.
Some may remember Cox as the fellow who introduced legislation back in 2005 to protect those who want to say “Merry Christmas” rather than something more generic.
He also had a bill last session, H.B. 622, that would have prohibited the council from interfering with contracts private probation companies have with the local courts. Cox’s company, Professional Probations Services Inc. of Norcross, is one of the biggest such companies in the state.
We understand that Jan Jones of Alpharetta and Len Walker of Loganville are also looking at the pro tem contest.
Which does, of course, presume that Mark Burkhalter of Johns Creek, the current occupant of that position, will not be running.
Meanwhile, two more Republicans have joined Secretary of State Karen Handel in calling for tighter ethics legislation aimed at the General Assembly.
State Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton, who like Handel is a candidate for governor, reiterated his call today for statewide grand juries. Scott is the author of H.R. 75, which would allow statewide panels to look at corruption anywhere in the state.
“The situation we find ourselves in today shows clearly that allowing government bodies to police themselves is unacceptable. Given the current environment, I expect the people of Georgia will demand the passage of this resolution. I will again seek the support of my fellow House members for HR 75 this session.”
Also Tuesday, Sam Olens, a Republican candidate for attorney general, released a series of ethics proposals that would place state lawmaker under the same scrutiny that county commissioners and city council members face. Olens is the chairman of the Cobb County Commission.
Among his proposals, from a press release:
– Stringent requirements on the actual release of public documents in a timely manner to avoid meaningful fines;
– Enhanced requirements assuring open meetings and meaningful fines for violations of open meetings;
– Disclosure by any member of the General Assembly who sponsors legislation where a pecuniary interest exists or a direct family member would benefit from the outcome;
– A penalty for non-compliance with the Statutory Code of Ethics for Public Officers;
– Inability to qualify for public office for outstanding ethics fines and taxes;
– And legislative investigations to be handled through the State Ethics Board presenting recommendations to the Joint Ethics Committee (direct action would violate non-delegation of powers).
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