David Ralston: Current state prison bill ‘exorbitant’

This week, GPB’s “Prime Time Lawmakers” aired a Nwandi Lawson interview with House Speaker David Ralston. The chief topic was the new push – backed by Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Chief Justice Carol Hunstein, to conduct a year-long review of who is placed within the razor wire of Georgia’s prisons.

Ralston directly addressed the two-strikes-and-you’re-out legislation back by Gov. Zell Miller:

”I think we now know that some of the reforms that we did, particularly back in the ‘90s, probably swept with too large a broom, maybe. They came with a great price tag.

“The ‘90s were a completely different time, financially, in state government. We now know that the cost of those programs and the cost of those sentencing changes is exorbitant. And I think that it was probably a higher number than we estimated at the time.”

Ralston, who has been criticized for a $17,000 trip he and his family took to Europe in November – to examine rail systems, also explained his opposition to caps on gifts to lawmakers:

”I believe that the people of Georgia, the voters of Georgia, have the good judgment and the intelligence to make decisions about caps. I don’t think government ought to be doing that, frankly….Every Georgian is a mouse click away from knowing every nickel that’s spent on me or any other member of the General Assembly.”

The House speaker also addressed Sunday package sales of alcohol – but the interview was conducted before Senate Republicans declared the issued dead on Thursday.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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39 comments Add your comment

Aquagirl

February 18th, 2011
11:20 am

I’d love to be a mouse click away from knowing who killed the Sunday sales bill. But Ralston and his buddies strangled it in closed caucus proceedings. Why in the crap should we trust them to be transparent on gifts?

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jim Galloway, Atlanta News Feed. Atlanta News Feed said: AJC: David Ralston: Current state prison bill ‘exorbitant’ http://brkg.at/gEpO7F [...]

GaBlue

February 18th, 2011
11:32 am

Aquagirl,

I think what’s going on here is that our “representatives” understand WE ARE STUPID, a condition they perpetuate by continously lowering the priority of education in this state. As such, we are WAY too stupid to be allowed to vote on whether to allow Sunday [store] sales of alcohol in our own communities.

I mean, you can’t let people VOTE on something we’re too stupid to understand! Therefore, they made the decision for us. Good patriarchs know when to tell us “NO,” for our own good, and are under no obligation to explain themselves. (And of course whatever gifts they receive from lobbyists are none of our beeswax either.) I hope that helps!

Barrett

February 18th, 2011
11:33 am

The Sunday sales of alcohol bill should have been put to a vote. Most urban area legislators were strongly in favor of it — because their constituents were strongly in favor of it. Georgia is trying to climb out of the area where Southern states are perceived to be redneck, backward and religious-zealot dominated. Killing this bill reinforces that perception, which will only hurt us in the competition for major new employers.

John Yossarian

February 18th, 2011
11:33 am

Aquagirl obviously doesn’t know her stuff. Senate GOP killed Sunday Sales. Not House GOP. Some people should not be allowed to make reckless comments… let alone be allowed on the internet.

CobbGOPer

February 18th, 2011
11:43 am

”I believe that the people of Georgia, the voters of Georgia, have the good judgment and the intelligence to make decisions about caps.”

But not the good judgment and intelligence to be allowed to purchase a legal product on Sundays.

/I know he’s not in the Senate, but still.

GaBlue

February 18th, 2011
11:52 am

Mr. Yossarian,

Thanks for clearing up exactly who thinks Georgians are too stupid to make our own decisions. That provides a TOTALLY different perspective on it! I’m sure they’ll be happy to pass a law, per your suggestion, as to who is and is not allowed on the Internet — in the name of freedom, personal responsibility, and smaller government, of course.

Aquagirl

February 18th, 2011
11:54 am

@ Yossarian—yeah, the radical Senate caucus did that entirely apart from the House GOP “leadership,” behind their back, I’m sure. Ralston is shocked. Shocked! Are you freakin’ brain damaged?

Some people shouldn’t be allowed to vote if they don’t understand politics….let alone be allowed on the internet.

findog

February 18th, 2011
12:27 pm

Now mind you that the Speaker was talking about money and not sex. The reason he tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the previous leadership had to do with them trading favors for sex, and not money, so there is no moral equivalence to be had…

Freedom lover

February 18th, 2011
12:30 pm

Simple solutions. The legislature is about to claim that they have the right under the 9th and 10th amendments to allow us to buy incandescent light bulbs made completely in this state despite federal laws that will ban them shortly nationwide (what a completely assinine move on the part of the feds). Great. In that spirit, end the war on drugs, prostitution, and gambling in the state of GA, release all prisoners who are there for non-violent convitions related to those non-crimes, and eliminate all state laws prohibiting these things. These are activities without victims that do not belong as crimes. These non-crimes are costing the state literally billions and billions of dollars in police costs, court costs, prison costs, DA costs, public defender costs, and of course the loss of liberties among the citizens and the crimes associated with these activities being illegal (gang warfare, robbery to support artificially inflated drug prices, violence against women by pimps, etc.).

Time for some common sense. Everyone knows why prisons cost so much. Nobody is willing to stand up for freedom and the financial benefits that will come with it.

eatmotacos

February 18th, 2011
12:35 pm

Knowing someone who went to HS with Ralston in Ellijay, I know something about his background. He is a Holy Roller – Georgia Taliban – they all have an R after their name. Their constituients have come to accept cheating and swindling taxpayers as a trade off for their adherence to really important principals, like not drankin’ on Sunday.

double

February 18th, 2011
12:38 pm

Lay in there Aquagirl.It’s like there is a difference.They all belong to the same, so if it be senate or house.Yeah we need 0 lobbyist money,and DEMAND TERM LIMITS.

Common Cause Georgia

February 18th, 2011
12:39 pm

His statement regarding lobbyist gift caps is contradictory. If the voters make it clear that they want caps, then that’s exactly what the government should be doing- listening to voters. And Georgians have been speaking up for caps on lobbyist gifts, across the geographical and political spectrum.
(see http://www.commoncausega.org, http://www.facebook.com/CommonCauseGeorgia )

findog

February 18th, 2011
12:41 pm

now double, term limits is something California would do, we can’t be doing nothing like them left coast Nixon/Reagan people around here

Last Man Standing

February 18th, 2011
12:49 pm

The lobbyist gift cap should be zero. At the risk of stating the obvious, I contend that nothing is “given” without an expectation of a return. Once one crosses the line and accepts ANYTHING, any expectation of honesty and morality by the citizens is merely a waste of time. The concept of a cap is surely no more than limiting the amount of dishonesty on the part of legislators. It’s akin to being a little bit pregnant.

findog

February 18th, 2011
12:53 pm

I must admit I agree with Last Man [this one time]

eatmotacos

February 18th, 2011
1:11 pm

@LM

“The lobbyist gift cap should be zero. At the risk of stating the obvious, I contend that nothing is “given” without an expectation of a return.”

That is their source of motivation. Why do you think they get into politics to start with? Look at Sonny, and just sit back and watch the Real Deal. It is mathmatically impossible for them to accumulate the kind of wealth they do on their salaries.

The flaw in our system is allowing politicians to police themselves – putting the patients in charge of the asylum.

I think that it has been proven beyond a doubt that politics attracts some of society’s most unethical people. What is puzzling is how special interest are fully cognizant of this fact, while the voters never seem to learn.

catlady

February 18th, 2011
2:08 pm

A cap of zero, and legislators have to pay for each lobbyist meal they partake in. If they show up in the “hospitality suite”, that is $500 right there. Each time.

No Dog in this Hunt

February 18th, 2011
2:11 pm

Mr. Speaker, You’re correct in that I know you accepted inappropriate gifts from a lobbyist. It is only a mouse click away. No, what can I do about it? You do not represent me, and your own constituents are willing to put up with your corrupt ways because you bring home the bacon.

Using your elected position in state government to obtain personal financial gain should be illegal. See Mayor Cambell.

Reality Check

February 18th, 2011
2:14 pm

Teachers have a cap on gifts they can receive. I believe it is $25.00. Elected officials should be held to a higher standard–cap them at $10.00.

GaBlue

February 18th, 2011
2:28 pm

It should be legal for state legislators to accept up to two of the following three items from anyone: — pen with name & phone number on it, — post-it notes (one small pack), — fridge magnet calendar. But not all three. And nothing more.

John Yossarian

February 18th, 2011
2:36 pm

No aquagirl,I am not the one brain damaged. If you knew anything about the process you would know that Ralston talks more to the Lite Governor, not Senate Leadership. That’s pretty clear from the comments Ralston has made in regards to who he talks to/considers the head of the Senate.

This is what I don’t understand. I understand and respect the idea of the tea party, limited government and personal responsability. If that is the case, why are tea party groups wanting to limit what people can or cannot do with their own money? Why do they want state government to put restrictions on what people do? To me, that doesn’t go with the ideas of limited government and personal responsability. Seems like a restriction of freedom. If people want real ethics reform targeted at the Richardson fallout, how about no having sexual relations while you are married? Oh wait, that is a law. How about target to evil lobbyist? Well, same law as the first, but if you want to expand the code books I guess you can add it.

There are going to be people everywhere that do not always like something. The internet just gives people a place to voice how much they don’t like certain people or groups no matter what they do. Never a positive comment about anything. If lobbyist were banned from spending money on legislators, when do we ban campaign finance? When do we force campaigns to be 100% self-funded? When would we ban that? When would we ban campaigns? When would be ban government, because there are people out there who thinks whoever is in power is full of it. When will we ban interest groups like the NRA, AARP, Georgia Common Cause, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia CPAs, and so on?

I forget sometimes that we have a right to free speech. You know what else people forget? People forget that lobbyist represent groups of people too, and petition the government when those they represent cannot. People forget that. Oh well. Ban ‘em. A few bad apples represent the whole, right?

SickOfDeadbeatPoliticians`

February 18th, 2011
3:21 pm

Ralston? Questioning ethics? Here’s a guy (deadbeat who should be in jail) who routinely accepts gifts from lobbyists talking about what should/shouldn’t be done re: prisons? It’s garbage like ralston, perdue, chambliss among others that makes me sick of not only living in the hellhole of a state, but makes me sick people are paying taxes for this crap. Liars, i.e, like the politicians currently in ‘gawga’ have no concern except for lining their pockets, setting up situations where when their deadbeat a$$es are voted out, they’ve got a comfy lobbyist position to drop in to. I despise every damn one of them.

Last Man Standing

February 18th, 2011
4:59 pm

catlady:
“if they show up in the “hospitality suite”, that is $500 right there. Each time.

Hell! They will drink more booze than $500.00 will cover – and they will even do it on Sundays!

Thomas

February 18th, 2011
6:30 pm

Let the voters decide on lobbyist caps, what an original idea coming from a man who took a $17,000.00 holiday in Europe. A mouse click shows the in your face activity the LAWBREAKERS get from their lobby friends. So a statewide referendum on caps is now on the table…LMAO!

Ethics Advocate

February 18th, 2011
6:40 pm

Ralston sounds like former Gov. Perdue who (when asked about over $7.1 million under the table to his friends at the Board of Regents) said, “Georgia’s Constitution reserves to the Board of Regents the exclusive authority to make such decisions. See Ga. Const. Art. 8, Sec. 3, Para. 1(c).” Yet, Perdue jumped in when the BOR wanted to approve an engineering program he did not like. In other words, the General Assembly continues to pick and choose what topics are important to them – not the people they are supposed to represent. For example, the state salary website implies that it is full disclosure when, in fact, it discloses only a portion of the full compensations and perks for their friends at the Board of Regents. Yes, you have heard this before, but this and other topics they choose to ignore are not going away. Enjoy your perks while you can as our numbers are growing and our voices are getting much louder.

ga female

February 18th, 2011
6:51 pm

The elijay folks drink from a brown paper bag they hide in the pantry, then pour into a red plastic cup so their 80 year old Baptist Mama don’t know they drink. Of course, they are all having affairs with each other. My daughter’s father was left in the car while his Mama went from one boyfriend to the next house up in Elijay and Picken’s county while he grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s . He can name names of several of the members of the House and Senate of whose driveway he sat in as a child. Of course, they are all your bible thumping Christian Conservatives.

We need to look at how much all the politicians from outside the metro are are getting from the Prision Corp of America. and Corrections Corp of America. After all the State of Georgia is paying them $42/day to house all of the inmates in Coffee County, Macon, Walker County, etc… They only pay the guards $8 per hour. Then the guards are getting the inmates the smart phones. The guards then call the family memebers of the inmates and try to shake each one of them down for $200 each to not turn them in for the phones, that they have already made $300-500 off of. Then there is the Tax scam. The guards get a percentage off the taxes they help the inmates file. Lets not file the simple booze, pot, LSD, and Meth they smuggle in. So do you really thing these corrupt legislators are going to do the right thing and just have a drug court to start with and have a 3-6 month drug rehab followed by sober living and work release. NO the Kick backs are must more profitable to the legistlators to have the long term sentance. After all the Private Prisons are the main business in rural georgia.

CommonSense

February 18th, 2011
10:33 pm

WTF? Someone tell me why Sunday sales can’t be put to a statewide vote? I’m just asking. How about somebody asks Mr. Deal ($25 gift cap) what he thinks about Mr. Ralston’s ($17,000) trip?

Question Man

February 18th, 2011
11:13 pm

Who is Ralston kidding? Doesn’t the Common Cause ethics complaint show that the person who gave Ralston the $17,000 trip had not yet registered as a lobbyist when the gift was made? Didn’t Common Cause show that the gift wasn’t disclosed until after the election of Ralston to the Speaker’s position? Doesn’t all this amount to the equivalent of non-disclosure until way after the horses were out of the barn?

Question Man

February 18th, 2011
11:16 pm

Are the Georgia Republicans going soft on crime? Is it already getting close to the time to throw them out?

john

February 19th, 2011
2:07 am

seem rather obivious that no all Georgians have computer accounts or equipment….just doesn’t want to be accountable for sweet heart deals with lobbyists.

Jezel

February 19th, 2011
7:53 am

What is disturbing about the bill not passing is…once again in Ga..the minority rules the majority. South Ga., with a smaller population than metro Atlanta and a lot less money _ RUN the show at the State House. What happened to the Golden Rule?…he who has the gold_RULES.

Bobby Anthony

February 19th, 2011
8:50 am

Let’s start a pledge sheet for Georgia voters to sign stating they will not vote for anyone who has served two consecutive terms. That is one way voters can vote for term limits.

Jezel

February 19th, 2011
9:04 am

Sounds good Anthony. How can metro Atlanta gain control of the General Assembly?

catlady

February 19th, 2011
2:22 pm

Last Man: I appreciated your 12:49 comment. Usually you and I do not agree, but I think you are 100% on this. (About the alcohol, I don’t know how much it costs; I don’t drink. Should we make it $1000 per entry?)

Some of the biggest whiskey makers in Ellijay were deacons of the Baptist churches. They might or might not drink it, but they sure could produce it. (They called it “providing for my family.”)

On some of the other comments, they are just at the tip of the ethics problems of some of our “leaders.”

My mama was a teacher, and she said, “If it LOOKS wrong, you have to treat it as wrong for you to so.” Funny, though, that so many are unable/unwilling to see how their actions look (ie, hiring children, asking for your property to have special treatment, etc.)

Yet the general population suffer collective amnesia or blindness once they see that R. The magic letter.

Reidsville awaits

February 19th, 2011
6:26 pm

Tax evader/Eurotripper Ralston is probably trying to raise the sentencing threshold because he figures he could become an inmate himself.

RBN

February 19th, 2011
9:02 pm

Actually because ependitures are reported under lobbyists’ reports and not by each legislator, it takes more than a mouse click to discover just how much and how often your own legislator has been dining at the trough, or concert, or ball game provided by the army of lobbyists beseiging our capitol.

ATF

February 20th, 2011
2:45 pm

I am astonished!!!

This relook at sentencing guidelines and “crime” is smart thinking on the part of Deal and Ralston.

The prison population in the U.S. stands at something like 743 per 100,000 population. Among industrialized countries, France is closest to the U.S. at 365 in prison per 100,000 population – yes, less than half our own. The cost is enormous and, evidently, does not work to lower crime.

If Deal actually does something about water reservoirs, if he actually does something about better trades education, and then actually does something about a soaring prison population that does not stop crime – good grief!, I may actually have to change my mind about him.

Edwin Gravitt

February 23rd, 2011
12:44 am

I totally agree with aquagirl on all of her comments. We have way to many unnecessary laws in Georgia and thus, way too many prisons and inmates. It’s time for We the People to start “Cracking Down” on our government.