The state Capitol is full of workaholics. So when conference committees don’t work beyond rush-hour – this is a sign that the conferees are at an impasse.
Despite reports of a breakthrough, that’s what happened last night with efforts to move a transportation funding bill out of a conference committee.
We understand that the deal killer is a provision that would allow one-half of a one-cent sales tax to be used for MARTA operations.
House opponents to the provision are led by Speaker pro tem Jan Jones of north Fulton County. The Atlanta Regional Commission is warning that without the guaranteed income stream, MARTA won’t be able to qualify for additional federal funding.
Festivities are allegedly to resume this morning.
Grover Norquist, leader of Washington-based Americans for Tax Reform, gave Republican lawmakers dispensation to vote last week for HB 1055, the conglomeration of tax increases, fee increases and future tax reductions designed to balance the state budget through much of next year.
But under no circumstances should that be construed as an endorsement of Gov. Sonny Perdue – with whom Norquist has had a seven-year feud — or the hospital bed tax that started the ball rolling, Norquist says.
Buzz Brockway of PeachPundit has the letter sent to GOP lawmakers who signed ATR’s no-new-tax pledge, which includes this:
Our recent statement that HB 1055 does not violate the Taxpayer Protection Pledge is being misconstrued by some as an endorsement of the hospital bed tax increase. It certainly is not.
We have opposed Gov. Perdue’s hospital tax since our letter on January 20, when we noted that HB 307 was a toxic mix of high taxes on Georgians and increased dependence on federal bailouts. We sent an alert to the entire legislature on March 24 reiterating our opposition to that bill.
HB 307 subsequently underwent a number of changes. It was amended in the Senate to include the elimination of the insurance premium tax. ATR remained opposed, as the tax cut was to be triggered by a $500 million reserve buildup and did not fully offset the hospital bed tax increase. We thank those legislators who worked to defeat that proposal.
When HB 1055 was amended by the House to include the hospital bed tax, the elimination of the statewide property tax, and tax reductions on retirement income, this was a net tax cut on Georgians. The reserve buildup requirement does not exist in HB 1055; the tax cuts begin on January 1. When fully phased in, with the hospital bed tax expiring in three years and the statewide property tax completely eliminated in 2016, HB 1055 represents a net revenue reduction for the state – and a net tax reduction for Georgia citizens.
The Norquist letter also includes this jab at a governor who has accused ATR of being an attack dog for hire:
For those of you that opposed the hospital bed tax from the beginning, ATR appreciates your work on behalf of taxpayers. You faced considerable pressure from a Governor that has repeatedly fought for high taxes.
So take heart, Preston Smith and Judson Hill. Your bills may be dead this session, but you have a friend in Mr. Norquist.
Travis Fain of the Macon Telegraph latched onto behind-the-scenes machinations involving SB 529, the bill that anti-abortion supporters would like to use to mount a constitutional challenge before the Obama administration has a chance to make a permanent imprint on the U.S. Supreme Court:
Apparently there was a push [Tuesday] to pass the abortion bill without language referencing sex or race. It would still make co-erced abortions illegal, but wouldn’t broach the subject of a protected class, which means no court case, which means no eventual Supreme Court challenge to Roe v. Wade.
Georgia Right to Life is fighting this.
“We want this bill to not only have an impact in Georgia, but in the United States,” GRTL legislative director Mike Griffin said.
…. I understand the House leadership polled the Republican caucus on this bill [Tuesday] morning, and that Ralston is involved in the back and forth on the bill. We’ll have to see what comes out of those discussions.
The dog not barking: HB 1184, the governor’s bill to permit the sale of health insurance policies from out-of-state companies not governed by Georgia mandates, is not on the Senate calendar for today, the 38th of the session.
Give his support of health care reform, Republicans have been eyeing U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, the Democrat from southwest Georgia, as a prime target for replacement.
But this from WALB-TV doesn’t help:
A Republican who says he’s running for the 2nd District Congressional seat, says his party’s chairman should resign. The chairman says he agrees.
Lee Ferrell says 2nd District GOP chairman Don Cole is supporting Ferrell’s opponent, Mike Keown. Ferrell says that violates the rules.
Ferrell said “Mr. Cole, I ask you to resign this day for the benefit of the republican party. How can we defeat Congressman Sanford Bishop while the Republican party has corruption itself.”
Ferrell and four other Republicans are seeking the nomination to challenge Sanford Bishop.
Republican Party Chairman Don Cole says he is stepping down as chairman, but it’s not because Lee Ferrell called on him to….
He says at the time he threw his support behind Keown, Keown was the only announced candidate. Now he is going to step down as party chairman to work full time for Keown’s campaign.
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