Your morning jolt: House speaker suggests ‘birther’ bill has a limited future

House Speaker David Ralston, in a late Thursday interview, said he would not stop committee-level debate of a bill to require President Barack Obama to provide proof of his American birth in order to get on the ballot next year.

But Ralston, who has developed a strong relationship with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, suggested that HB 401 stood little chance of making it to the floor for passage, despite carrying the signatures of 93 Republican lawmakers.

House Speaker David Ralston. Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com

House Speaker David Ralston. Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com

“I’m not promoting the bill or squelching discussion. We’ll have a discussion, and then we’ll see what happens,” Ralston said. “First of all, I believe President Obama is the duly elected president of the United States. I’ve never followed the ‘birther’ school of thought.”

The measure was introduced Monday, and has its first hearing today in a House subcommittee. The bill could require all candidates for president to provide certified copies of their “first original long-form birth certificate.”

Documentation as provided by the state of Hawaii, which has insisted time and time again that Obama was born there, “would not suffice,” said state Rep. Mark Hatfield, R-Waycross, the bill’s author.

The bill comes as the Georgia Ports Authority continues to push the White House for hundreds of millions in federal dollars to dredge the Port of Savannah – the state’s most important infrastructure project. The bill also flies in the face of an alliance that the House speaker has built with the mayor of Atlanta on another crucial issue – transportation funding.

Moreover, passage of the HOPE scholarship bill on Tuesday was accomplished with the cooperation of House Democratic Leader Stacy Abrams of Atlanta, who has her own ties to Obama.

All that said, the signatures of 93 Republicans on the bill – in a 180-member House – requires Ralston to perform a high-wire act on this issue.

“I am elected by a large and diverse caucus. And the issues that matter to them span a considerable range,” Ralston said. “What I’ve tried to be about, is allowing the committee process to have discussions about issues that are important to members.”

Another measure being heard today, the speaker noted, was a proposed constitutional amendment to permit horse-racing in Georgia.

Asked whether HB 401 could hurt the state’s effort to obtain federal funding for its all-important port, Ralston said:

”I would hope that having the discussion would not. I would hope that there would be respect for a diversity of opinion and a free exchange of ideas. I would hope that everybody in this process is big enough to understand that in the legislative process, a big part of what this is about is having ideas vetted and debated.

“I’m kind of proud of the relationships we have. Mayor Reed and I have formed a kind of alliance that I think is healthy for the entire state. I think we share some goals that I think are good for Georgia – such as the port and its future.

“I think all of those are much larger than this discussion.”

In case you missed it, go back and read the emphasis Ralston placed on the word “discussion.”

Asked whether his relationship with Reed would survive a floor vote on a bill that questions the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency, Ralston said this:

”I think our alliance is very strong. And I would not do anything to damage that alliance.”

So no House floor vote? Replied Ralston:

”I’m saying that we’ve got a lot of big issues that need to come to the floor. That’s different than saying that debating this bill in subcommittee or at the committee level – that’s two different things.

hb401photo

“At some point we’re going to have to sit down and prioritize how we’re going to spend our energy. The priorities are the budget, the reservoir bill, making sure the HOPE scholarship bill gets all the way through the process. We’ve got the tax reform council.”

At the request of many of you’ve I’ve uploaded a scan of the many signatures on HB 401. Stopping this bill may be harder than it sounds. Originally, we wrote here that, among the 22 Republicans who have not signed onto the bill was John Meadows, chairman of the House Rules Committee, which determines which bills move – and don’t move.

But Hatfield pointed us to Meadows’ signature. “Top of the second row, back page.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

249 comments Add your comment

Drew

March 2nd, 2011
9:05 am

Ol’ John will let the bill out of the Rules Committee. He ain’t no one’s fool. Having said that, the jury of the American public voted that Obama was a citizen.

Tin Foil Hats

March 2nd, 2011
9:06 am

Thankfully not all GA GOPers wear tin foil hats.

Tom Gissy

March 2nd, 2011
9:08 am

If the good old boys under the gold dome can not come up with anything better to waste their time and our money on than the “birther cause” maybe the best place to start with a reduction of those on the state payroll would be in the House.

I really don't care

March 2nd, 2011
9:09 am

if he’s american born or whatever. John McCain was born in Panama… so what? if the guy is from mars and can provide solutions to our problems – I’d vote for him!

just won't fly

March 2nd, 2011
9:16 am

why are ppl in Atl even wasting time on this; oh wait, we are protected from the government chip.

hsgrad

March 2nd, 2011
9:16 am

The good ole boys also want to exempt the Georgia Dept. of Transportation from accountability from choking our creeks and rivers of mud. Mud from GDOT projects. The “birther” bill doesn’t surprise me!

JohnnyReb

March 2nd, 2011
9:16 am

“But Ralston, who has developed a strong relationship with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed….”

In other words, because Obama and Reed are black and Ralston likes Reed, the bill should/will be stuck in committee.

There’s that “tribal loyalty” thing that has apparently infected more just Bookman at the AJC.

cs

March 2nd, 2011
9:17 am

message from South Ga……Screw the tax “reform” council and anyone who votes for tax increases for me.

Leading the Way

March 2nd, 2011
9:18 am

Let’s see how many conventions we loose because of this stupid bill. Being a laughing stock always bring the money conventions to the state. Keep it up Georgia lead the way. The next auto makers will love to see what our priorties are.

ATL

March 2nd, 2011
9:18 am

@ Tin Foil Hats: No just half of ‘em… ;-)

Aquagirl

March 2nd, 2011
9:24 am

Kudos to Ralston for categorically denying the birther junk. But you know we’ve got lunatics running the asylum when the Senate squelches open discussion of Sunday sales, yet the House publicly wallows in idiocy.

Mr. Ralston needs to grow a pair and reign in the freak show. Birther nonsense may appeal to crazy constituents, but it’s seriously hurting our State when they not only waste time, they generate headlines that make the sane world roll their eyes and sigh “Ah, Southerners. See what happens when you marry your cousins?”

Mark Twain

March 2nd, 2011
9:27 am

To the Birthers:

“All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure.”

“The political…morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.”

“To lodge all power in one party and keep it there is to insure bad government and the sure and gradual deterioration of the public morals.”

Have at it ladies and gentlemen. You’ll surely squander our power by drowning it in a lake of reactionary absurdity. Unfortunately, you’ll bring down with you the wise and reasonable members of our party along the way.

JustMe

March 2nd, 2011
9:34 am

Tin Foil Hats

March 2nd, 2011
9:06 am
Thankfully not all GA GOPers wear tin foil hats.

Just most of them!

Southside Shawty

March 2nd, 2011
9:34 am

…. And you want money from the Feds to dredge the Savannah Port. Good luck with that!

JustMe

March 2nd, 2011
9:36 am

This is crazy! Don’t they think if there was anything to find the Clinton’s would have found it in ‘08 during the primaries? Give me a break! Stop this ridicoulous stuff and let’s focus on things that really matter – like creating jobs for this idiotic, bass-ackwards state that we live in.

JustMe

March 2nd, 2011
9:40 am

Remember when Georgia used to be open minded? That’s when it was run by conservative or moderate Democrats instead of crazy, right-wing Republicans. I don’t understand why we voted out the Dems in this state. It’s not like they’re some liberal from Massachusetts or something. They are conservatives, but still open minded enough to do the right thing. I say bring back the Dems and kick the Republicans out!

Derrick

March 2nd, 2011
9:48 am

I am ashamed to live here. With all of the stuff going on, this is what those idiots in the capitol building came up with to waste time and money on? I didn’t vote for this?

Law Student

March 2nd, 2011
9:50 am

I don’t find this to be as much of a jolt as some may. Speaker Ralston’s position only makes sense in terms of efficiency. I think this has much less to do with “tribal loyalty” than the fact that he went to law school and recognizes that this law will likely be struck down by the Supreme Court as being unconstitutional for the same basic reason that term limits on candidates for Congress were struck down in U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton in 1995 in which the U.S. Supreme Court said that states cannot impose additional requirements for candidates for federal office beyond those stated in the relevant qualifications clause.

muggymug

March 2nd, 2011
9:52 am

I wish all the tv pundits would stop asking Republicans about the birther issue, and just once, ask the President why he will not show us the birth certificate. Or for that matter, college records etc. Why would he fight this? The national media is doing its level best to make any discussion of this legitimate issue, “crazy talk” so that the issue will go away. It makes me wonder what they are so frightened about. Sadly, the Republican party is too soft to press the issue. Maybe it’s time to join the tea party after all.

Irisher

March 2nd, 2011
9:53 am

Haven’t we had enough display of ignorance and blind hypocrisy in the State Legislature? This bill proves that 94 members don’t have either the capacity or the will to seek the truth. The State of Hawaii must laugh at us daily if the even notice these stupid and irrelevant tactics to attack a sitting President.
Are there any adults in the legislature who can get on with the real issues of the economy and budget?

Travis McGee

March 2nd, 2011
9:54 am

Well, inspite of your criticisms, the Georgia legislature is dependable. They can be depended on to embarrass, humiliate, and mystify those with an IQ over 40.

Thanks for not letting us down. And, so it goes. . . .

I'm NOT with Stupid.

March 2nd, 2011
9:57 am

To: GA’s Republican State Representatives

Please stop embarrassing GA citizens with crack pot, lunatic fringe politics before we all feel the need to wear “I’m with Stupid (aka GA’s Birther, Racist, & Wing Nut State Reps.)” shirts.

- Haters Gonna Hate

PS. Racism & Hate are not Family Values. 

jewcowboy

March 2nd, 2011
10:00 am

Good to know our legislature is concentrating on important work such as the budget, education, water rights, transportation and infrastructure…what a bunch of halfwit imbeciles.

Last Man Standing

March 2nd, 2011
10:00 am

Drew:

” the jury of the American public voted that Obama was a citizen.”

Sorry, no cigar for you. The American people cannot vote citizenship (in this case, born on American soil) to anyone. We are, after all, a nation of laws.

ksdb

March 2nd, 2011
10:01 am

Obama voted for a federal law in 2005 that forces states to verify the validity of birth certificates from the issuing agencies (usually a state’s health or vital records department) when citizens use this record to apply for a drivers license or ID card. This eligibility bill does nothing more than hold Obama to the same standard he voted for.

The state of Hawaii has gone out of its way to avoid releasing the official records that would legally verify whether Obama’s jpg of an alleged birth certificate is genuine. Both the former governor and current governor of Hawaii have told outright falsehoods to cover for Obama. Enough is enough. It’s time to quit making excuses and hold Obama to a very simple standard to which all of us are legally bound.

Denise

March 2nd, 2011
10:03 am

First of all, I am an independent voter who votes for who I think is the BEST candidate for the job.
Obama has been vetted by the CIA, FBI, DNC, RNC, etc. to verify that he was born in Hawaii. (And Hawaii IS A STATE.)
I moved back to the south (after living in the cold Midwestern winters) several years ago. The Atlanta metro area seemed like a great place to live at the time.
Given the following stats, what can I say TODAY to encourage someone to relocate to Georgia…..
Georgia is the 40th most educated state
Our 4th graders ranked 37th in math and 39th in reading
Our 8th graders ranked 40th in Math
Georgia ranks 41st in infant mortality
Georgia ranks 44th in lack of health care insurance
In 2010, Texas topped the states as having created the most jobs. Georgia ranked tops as the state that had LOST the MOST jobs.

Legislators, we elect you to focus on the NEEDS of our state, and not some partisan crap. Do what you can to improve the aforementioned stats, among Georiga’s other needs..

Atlanta Native

March 2nd, 2011
10:05 am

Whether he is on the ballot or not, GOP will take all of Georgia’s electoral votes. So it is pointless and will have no real effect.

Aquagirl

March 2nd, 2011
10:05 am

I think Hawaii should pass legislation declaring they won’t accept Georgia documents like drivers licenses. If we don’t trust their state officials to verify documentation, why should they trust ours?

Joe Cool

March 2nd, 2011
10:05 am

The Only Reason BS Like This Makes It To The Floor Or Even Brought Up For Discussion, Is Because They Have To Cater to Their Base. Look For Yourselves, Poll Shows 51% Of Republicans Are “Birthers” Or “Concerned” About B.O. Birth Certificate. It Really Shows The Type Of People We Elect, Yet They Continue To Get Elected. And PPL Wonder Why We Are A Laughing Stock And Never Live Down The Typical “SOUTH” Sterotype…. Its Stuff Like This!

Ever Wanna Get A “Birther” All Riled Up, Tell Them That B.O. Must Be Smarter Than The WHOLE Republican Party In Order To Have Pulled Off The Biggest Conspiracy In History….And Ask Them Do They Agree…LOL.

Joe Cool

March 2nd, 2011
10:07 am

“Remember when Georgia used to be open minded?”

WHEN???

Last Man Standing

March 2nd, 2011
10:08 am

Leading the Way:

“Let’s see how many conventions we loose because of this stupid bill.”

Now, this was the comment that I was waiting for, and you didn’t disappoint! Anytime the state does something or fails to do something that someone disapproves, I see this comment. If this comment was true and accurate, by now there would be NO convention business ar all in Atlanta. Further, if anything slows the convention business there, it would be a good guess that it is the rampant crime experienced by Atlantans.

muggymug

March 2nd, 2011
10:10 am

Enter your comments here

cs

March 2nd, 2011
10:11 am

“Ah, Southerners. See what happens when you marry your cousins?”–Aquagirl

Albert Einstein married his cousin. Some others are..Johann Sebastien Bach

Werner von Braun

Charles Darwin

Rudy Giuliani

Jessie James

Mary and Joseph

Aemilia Lanyer

Jerry Lee Lewis

Sir John A. MacDonald

Prophet Muhammad

Edgar Allen Poe

Christopher Robin

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Greta Scacchi

Queen Victoria

H.G. Wells

ksdb

March 2nd, 2011
10:14 am

@ Denise, nobody has “vetted” Obama. The CIA and FBI do not do background checks on elected politicians. The state of Hawaii has refused to verify that Obama’s jpg is genuine, and they made several misleading and outright false statements to cover for him. There is no legal evidence to back up the jpg Obama posted on his website. NONE.

As for the DNC and RNC, the Republicans had their own candidate who was questionable in terms of Constitutional eligibility. They’ve simply ignored the Constitutional requirements and forged ahead with these candidates. Obama just happened to be the one who won, but neither fit the Supreme Court’s definition of natural born citizen, regardless of whether Obama was truly born in Hawaii.

ksdb

March 2nd, 2011
10:16 am

@ aquagirl, there’s already a federal law that requires states to verify birth certificates with the states that issued them. Obama voted for this law. The eligibility bill does nothing more than hold Obama to the same standard that he voted for.

Bourne Penetration

March 2nd, 2011
10:16 am

Let me see if I have this straight. Our esteemed leaders under the Dome have the time to push forward this idiocy to pander to the lunatic fringe while these same “keep the government out of my private life” loons won’t even let the Sunday Sales bill have a vote? This is the best we can expect out of our Government?

(And yes this is idiocy. Save the defenses and nonsensical “what’s the harm” arguments. This is a waste of time and resources that will ACCOMPLISH NOTHING!!! This is the very definition of slavishly pandering LUNACY FOR GOD’S SAKE!)

What the hell is wrong with this state? Party affiliation aside, the lapdog pandering to narrow interest groups has become disgusting. And we keep electing these idiots.

Oh my God.

MaconDawg

March 2nd, 2011
10:17 am

We’ve got an unemployment rate of 10.2%. These idiots are trying raise taxes on everything from gas to a haircut and now they are wasting the valuable time and effort because their guy lost the election.
Obama won…grow up, get over it and get to work.

muggymug

March 2nd, 2011
10:19 am

I wish, just once, the national tv pundits would ask our President about this instead of hounding Republicans about the issue. They won’t touch the issue with the President himself. Curious. Aren’t some of you people even a little curious why he has not released his records? It would be so easy to do. Even Chris Matthews has said it’s time for him to do it. You people need to learn to question your government at all levels. And by the way, Arizona is farther ahead on this bill than Georgia is, so I don’t even wanna hear that its a southern thing!

The Road Leads Back to Birthers

March 2nd, 2011
10:19 am

[...] the Republican leadership in the house can reign the birther caucus in and give Georgia a break from the national news cycle for just a day or two.  (I’m looking [...]

Chilidog

March 2nd, 2011
10:21 am

This bill is filled with legal, logical and contsitutional defects.

If they fixed all of those defects, there would be nothing left of the bill.

Chilidog

March 2nd, 2011
10:24 am

@ksdb -”there’s already a federal law that requires states to verify birth certificates with the states that issued them.”
=======================

There’s also a section of the U.S. Consitution that requires Georgia to accept official documents from Hawaii.

muggymug

March 2nd, 2011
10:24 am

I really have to laugh at all you people who say we have other things to worry about.
There is no greater issue than this one. Are we governed by the rule of law, or not? If the guy has a birth certificate, then this is no big deal. Piece of cake. Why all the wringing of hands? Why all the worry? Bunch of birthaphobes if you ask me.

Chilidog

March 2nd, 2011
10:25 am

@MaconDawg: “We’ve got an unemployment rate of 10.2%. . . Obama won…grow up, get over it and get to work.”
==========================

They are. Don’t you get it? This IS a jobs bill. It guarantees jobs. . . . for lawyers.

Aquagirl

March 2nd, 2011
10:27 am

@ kdsb— OK, the proper Hawaii officials have verified Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Case closed.

Gosh, that was easy. Maybe now we can worry about transportation, water, and all the other real-world problems.

Faa Q

March 2nd, 2011
10:29 am

Dumb thought here guys. Instead of talking trash or allowing others to do it for him why not just show a copy of the original document? Boom done. The bogus Kenya document was proven to be photoshopped. Like the real document it was a photocopy. Instead of showing a photocopy and talking trash show the real deal.

Straight Talk

March 2nd, 2011
10:30 am

“Birther’ is intended to disparage anyone who has concerns about the citizenship status of our current President. This effort and trying to shout down anyone with those concerns does not address the question of why there has been a full court press to seal up every single record of Mr. Obama – hospital, government, primary school, college, law school, etc.- that would shed the light of accuracy and truth on this issue does nothing to resolve the issue. I don’t think we have enough information to know one way or another. The one document – a Hawaiian certificate of live birth that is purported to be the ‘proof’ is a document that is available to any parents who provide an affidavit of their child’s birth. That would be conclusive in most people’s mind, including mine, had the Obama folks not spent over a reported $1 million+ to shut down any efforts to gain access to other corroborating documents. That is a red flag to many reasonable people. The ‘birther’ people’s concerns could have been laid to rest a long time ago had Mr. Obama allowed the same access to his records that has consistently been available to the public and media from other candidates over the years. Obama supporters would do everyone in the country a favor to ask, as liberal reporter and TV talks show host Chris Matthews has done, Mr. Obama to allow access to his records. Until he does that that, under the circumstances, any U.S. citizen has a legitimate right to continue to ask the question. .

Bourne Penetration

March 2nd, 2011
10:32 am

“Aren’t some of you people even a little curious why he has not released his records?”

NO, NO, NO! I didn’t vote for the guy but hear this…. I DON’T CARE! The man is the President, let it go you poor pathetic weirdos. Let it go and open your eyes for a minute and perhaps you will see that there are a few problems in this State that might just need some careful consideration and thought.

If the polls are to be believed then 80+% don’t buy into this lunacy. But here in the Loony Bin AKA the Dome I suppose we have to pander to the 20% that do. PANDER PANDER PANDER. Drive in that wedge issue that much further.

OH MY GOD. REALLY????

Joe Cool

March 2nd, 2011
10:33 am

OHHH And For The PPL Who Say, “Why Wont He Just Show It And Prove Them Wrong”, Its Because:
1)Hes The President and Has Been Verifiy Through Every Channel In Order To Be Where He Is, Just Like ALL The Other 43 Presidents Have. What Makes Him Any Different (I Let You Ponder On That).

2)Nothing Makes YOU BIRTHERS Look Even Crazier, Than Thinking With THE LIKE MINDS Of Truther, Nasa faking the moon landings, Princess Diana, Elvis Presley faking his own death!!!

That Is How The World Views You BIRTHERS!

Straight Talk

March 2nd, 2011
10:38 am

I did not make this post. They are as legitimate as the birth records may be.

JustMe

March 2nd, 2011
10:40 am

Joe Cool

March 2nd, 2011
10:07 am
“Remember when Georgia used to be open minded?”

WHEN???

Before we started electing nitwit Republicans and Dems were in control of the legislature in Georgia (and we actually had at least one U.S. Senator and sometimes two and several Representatives that were conservative or at the very least moderate Democrats). All that started in 2002. Before then this state was controlled by open-minded, Conservative Democrats (with a few moderates but few or no true liberals).