Behind the unrest in the state Senate

Until a few moments ago, the Senate chamber in the state Capitol was empty, except for a few Democrats waiting for Republicans to show themselves.

“They’ve run off to South Carolina,” said Jason Carter, D-Decatur, implying that we would have to send the State Patrol in pursuit. Orange-shirted hunters, waiting outside the chamber for a debate over deer-baiting, offered to set out some corn seed.

Neither was necessary. At 3 p.m., Senate Republicans returned from a long, mirthless meeting over leadership of the chamber. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle was invited in, stayed for 20 minutes or so, and left without a word.

(The House Republican caucus met at about the same time. Speaker David Ralston’s bodyguard stayed outside the door, where he helped keep reporters from putting an ear to the glass. Cagle’s accompanied him inside.)

We have already posted the preliminaries. Sen. George Hooks, D-Americus, introduced a resolution to change the Senate rules to allow personal points of privilege to be moved to the front of the calendar.

But any change in Senate rules could lead to a change in any Senate rule, including the ones that stripped Cagle of his power.

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, sought to engross SR 526 – to keep any amendments from being added. Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, urged passage of the motion.

The balloting quickly became a vote of confidence. And it was defeated 23-19. Most importantly, 14 senators – all but one a Republican – declined to vote.

Shortly afterwards, the Senate went into recess. In addition to the caucus meeting, we understand at least one private meeting with Cagle, Rogers and Williams has occurred. But we don’t know what was discussed.

Today’s turmoil in the Senate had a precursor. On Monday, we understand that several freshmen Republican senators met with Gov. Nathan Deal to discuss his lack of support for a restoration of the state sales tax on groceries, and a cigarette tax increase.

They apparently didn’t believe their Senate Republican leaders, who had told them that Deal had promised to veto either of those tax increases. (We’ll ascribe the best of motives to the freshmen, and suppose that they wanted to see tax cuts in other areas.)

Deal assured the new senators that he had indeed promised such a veto. Things still did not go well. One of the freshmen declared to Deal that they would go ahead and pass the sales taxes. If the governor chose to veto them, they would override him next year.

The session was seen by many in the Capitol as evidence that communication within the Senate had reached a low-point.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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

39 comments Add your comment

ProgressivePeach

March 31st, 2011
3:24 pm

Georgians elect people who vilify government and then expect that they will be well-governed? Well how quaint.

findog

March 31st, 2011
3:28 pm

Reminds me of a small college campus where the student government fight endlessly with the student newspaper because the stakes are so small

cs

March 31st, 2011
3:31 pm

One of the freshmen declared to Deal that they would go ahead and pass the sales taxes. If the governor chose to veto them, they would override him next year.

and, we the public, will replace as many republican tax raising senators as we can……….

Muscogee

March 31st, 2011
3:35 pm

Which freshman Republican told Deal they would pass the sales tax anyway? My money is on Ginn.

Booger Fling

March 31st, 2011
3:37 pm

Bla Bla Bla… just another typical day in fairy tale land. It doesn’t matter what they change or who changes it. Dems and repubs are one in the same. Out of touch with reality. Everyone should pay close attention to what they are covering up with this little show. Watch the right hand… not the left type of thing.

[...] There will be a vote on a Senate rule tomorrow that the Senate failed to “engross” earlier today.  Jim Galloway has excellent details, as usual.  Updated with more details in this post by Jim. [...]

WE have lost our way

March 31st, 2011
3:39 pm

Reminds me of the Subway commercials when adults talk like children to get a sub sandwich from a coworker. This is a joke on all of us.Look what we have put in charge of OUR state government.

Centrist

March 31st, 2011
3:44 pm

Amazing that anyone cares about this “inside the Capitol building” (non) intrigue. I liked the small college/newspaper comparison. Slightly bigger scales here, but the issues are just as small.

Self_Made

March 31st, 2011
3:47 pm

Well spoken, Peach! Bravo!

Georgian

March 31st, 2011
3:47 pm

love it! GA GOP cannot govern…

retiredds

March 31st, 2011
3:48 pm

And these are the guys who have told us, “The American people have spoken”. Problem is they only listen to those (about 1%) who give them the most $$$$. The R’s say they are listening to the people. Watch out, then next thing you might hear is they are working to bring jobs to Georgia.

truth

March 31st, 2011
3:56 pm

Love it! Maybe people will see what bozos we have elected.

Just Wait

March 31st, 2011
3:57 pm

Always such a joy to watch the Republicans eating their own.

eduprin

March 31st, 2011
4:01 pm

It’s time for moderation, people.

Aquagirl

March 31st, 2011
4:11 pm

I want a T-shirt with ProgressivePeach’s post. All those “gub’mint iz EEEVIL!!!!” people are finding out the government they elected….is evil. What a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Love the note about David Ralston’s bodyguard shooing reporters away. It would be hilarious in a movie. In real life it’s downright scary how much is deliberately hidden.

Einsteindawg

March 31st, 2011
4:13 pm

What do you expect when you elect attorneys, real estate appraisers, insurance agents, and motivational speakers to represent you.

Fed Up

March 31st, 2011
4:21 pm

Seems to me that the communication..and the leadership vacuum is the Governor’s problem. Where is his leadership and directive to the legislature to pass something he WILL sign?

bigappleGApeach

March 31st, 2011
4:33 pm

It’s all a great big ’show’ to keep us from looking at how they are planning to rob the poor and middle class BLIND! They’ve been bought, and we’re being sold. Pure and simple….

Jebbery

March 31st, 2011
4:55 pm

Maybe the caucus is undertaking another “fresh reading” of the GA constitution this evening?

Brenda

March 31st, 2011
5:02 pm

“Conversations under the Gold Dome”

A hidden camera caught these two legislators in a very animated discussion of the tax bill. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JmA2ClUvUY&feature=player_embedded

Thomas

March 31st, 2011
5:05 pm

WASTE, WASTE and more WASTE! Waste of time, waste of energy and waste of MONEY!

[...] notes that some stuff is going down: We have already posted the preliminaries. Sen. George Hooks, D-Americus, introduced [...]

Double Zero Eight

March 31st, 2011
5:44 pm

The usual “dog and pony sho”….good guy vs. bad guy.
The republicans and democrats are one in the same.

Double Zero Eight

March 31st, 2011
5:44 pm

Spelled “show” incorrectly in previous blog.

double

March 31st, 2011
5:45 pm

Deal may be the most level head in bunch.Booger Fling dems and repugs are the same especially after hours.

[...] Behind the unrest in the state Senate [...]

Harry

March 31st, 2011
6:02 pm

The only way this state can improve competitiveness is to cut spending, not just trade one set of taxes for another set.

Neil

March 31st, 2011
6:32 pm

@ProgressivePeach…we don’t “villify government” but rather we don’t worship it and believe it is the answer to every problem. We villify BIG government, and we believe that a government that governs least governs best.

Old Hippie

March 31st, 2011
6:46 pm

So we have GOP freshmen threatening to raise taxes and override a GOP Gov’s veto of said increases. How cute!

Government ain’t Big Business, folks. Sometimes it has to run a deficit, or raise taxes to provide the services demanded by the electorate. The wealthy receive more services – they should pay more taxes.

Those of you in the TRUE middle class are about to get screwed once again so that the rich get richer. It’s the Republican way.

catlady

March 31st, 2011
7:08 pm

Instead of seed corn, they should just fill the trough for the hogs.

Jezel

March 31st, 2011
8:04 pm

Wish I could remember the name of the person in this forum who said…No incumbent should be re-elected…PERIOD. It is the only way to restore government to the people. Enough of these characters who are in office to pad their pockets and push an agenda that does not coincide with those who elect them.

[...] covering the drama in the Senate today, Jim Galloway mentioned a meeting on Monday, arranged by Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, where some freshman met with the Governor to [...]

The problem is with the "committee on assignments"

March 31st, 2011
8:19 pm

Yes, we, the Senate is a joke. It’s embarrassing. Here is who runs the Senate in Georgia: David Shafer, Chip Rogers, Greg Goggans, Tommie Williams, Bill Cowsert, & Cecil Staton, there are a few more, but those are the guys calling the shots. EGO maniacs who want all the power and were embarrassed today that Senator Hooks tried to introduce the resolution that would move the points of personal privileges but also could of opened up more rules changes that they couldn’t have accepted (Lt. Govs power taken back). I truly wish the general public could see how Senator Hooks and others were treated today in the Rules committee. Not only was Sen. Hooks’ resolution voted down, but Senator Balfour spoke to members on the committee in a very rude and unprofessional way. I’ve lost all respect for him and the members of the committee on assignments. I can’t wait until the day you are all voted out and treated like regular humans. I hope someone treats you the way you have treated your fellow colleagues. There was also a personal threat made by Tommie Williams (I don’t even respect you enough to call you a Senator) to Senator Hooks telling him he would have repercussions for introducing his resolution. A personal attack and threat was made with a finger pointed to him. TOMMIE WILLIAMS: WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE??!!!!! You are pathetic.

DON BALFOUR: I also don’t respect you enough to call you a Senator. You owe the entire rules committee (along with everyone present) an apology. Especially Senator Henson. Your tone and words were so disrespectful and unprofessional. Again I ask YOU: WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE??? Why would you think it is appropriate to talk to anyone the way you did today?!! You are a joke and I hope your poor wife realizes one day what a monster you have turned into. I do hope she is paying attention and has taken into consideration the fact that you abuse your power and have had a sexual relationship with a lobbyist..We all know it. There are even pictures to prove it. Again I ask….WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? And you actually stand behind those “republican christian values??!!” WOW, that’s all I can say..

I honestly wish Speaker Ralston had the power to get involved and get rid of the comm on assignments…Someone needs to intervene!! WE are begging you..

Jezel

March 31st, 2011
9:18 pm

Republican christian values? Do they really exist?

The problem is with the "committee on assignments"

March 31st, 2011
11:21 pm

@Jezel— You would be surprised what goes on behind closed doors in the Cap. Those “republican christian values” are a JOKE….apparently It’s okay to sleep and wine and dine with the lobbyist and have them pay you for votes…It’s apparently okay to speak to someone in a demeaning way and make them feel like their seniority has no value in the Senate. That is the TRUTH. If you question that, then take some time to come down and hang out in the halls January through April. You’d be shocked at what you would find..

Booger Fling

April 1st, 2011
9:24 am

Term limits will fix much of the problem. That way these individuals don’t have as much time in office to get comfortable and become corrupt. The longer they keep office, the longer they have to make buddies with all the lobbiest. Simple as that.

North over South

April 1st, 2011
9:46 am

Vote every lasst republican tax raising senators out of office it’s time for them stop being out of touch with reality and listen to the people who voted them in and not to the lobbiest

Jezel

April 2nd, 2011
6:24 am

Booger… Definitely term limits_ but no legislative body will allow that to happen. Then they would be out of a job. Has to be a movement among the people..Demo’s and Republican’s alike..to never again vote for an incumbent.

indaknow

April 2nd, 2011
11:02 am

Don’t Piss lil Tommie off….his short man temper will get you..have hath no fury like a closted man.