The most important question for this morning: With only 48 hours left in the winter session of the General Assembly, and much of its major work done or abandoned, do lawmakers have an appetite for hard-nosed negotiations on a measure aimed at illegal immigration?
Late Monday, the Senate again staked out a firm, pro-business position. From my AJC colleague Jeremy Redmon:
By a vote of 39 to 17, the Senate approved House Bill 87 after nearly three hours of debate and a lengthy and sometimes confusing discussion about several amendments.
Among other things, the Senate eliminated a provision in the bill that would have required many private businesses to use a federal work authorization program called E-Verify. That program helps businesses confirm their newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States.
The amendment to strip the E-Verify requirement was sponsored by John Bulloch, R-Ochlocknee. Another amendment to re-insert the requirement, but make it applicable only to larger businesses, failed. It was sponsored by Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, and Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga.
A successful amendment sponsored by Democrats Jason Carter of Decatur and Doug Stoner of Smyrna weakened the law enforcement provisions by giving police the right to stop suspected action involving illegal immigrants – whether harboring or transporting – only when a felony is involved.
As you will note in the bill’s history, none of the votes on the measures were recorded. All save the final vote for passage were conducted by head count.
”I live in a whole new world, from my side. I’m sick to my stomach right now,” said D.A. King, the immigration activist, who watched from the gallery. He noted this morning that not one Republican senator protested the lack of recorded votes.
King said he will try to identify Republicans who voted to weaken HB 87 through archived video.
The important point to remember in all this is that, in this entire session, only one House-Senate conference committee has been employed – on next year’s state budget. That’s because the appointment of Senate negotiators goes directly to the power dispute between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Senate Republicans.
Many of you are still digging into the Mystery of Beth Merkleson and Senate Majority Whip Cecil Staton’s connection with said person – if she exists. A fellow named Arch Adams of Hartwell discovered that she and Staton shared a certain IP address.
Others of you have noted that Adams is a campaign contributor to state Sen. Jim Butterworth, R-Cornelia, an ally of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. “Merkleson” had sent a note to the chairman of the Habersham County GOP, urging him to field a primary opponent against Butterworth.
On Monday, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss told members of the Atlanta Rotary Club that President Barack Obama “threw us a little bit of a curveball” with the weekend announcement that he planned to deliver a speech on deficit-reduction this week.
But today’s Washington Post has a bit of good news for Chambliss and Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia, who have been spearheading the U.S. Senate’s effort to tackle the $14 trillion federal deficit. From Ezra Klein:
Obama will throw his support behind the bipartisan effort in the Senate to turn the Simpson-Bowles plan into legislation ….This will raise as many questions as it answers — if Obama is such a fan of this approach, for instance, why didn’t he say more about it during his budget? — but it is, at base, a more realistic plan both in terms of policy and politics.
AJC’s Politifact today looks at a statement from U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Mark Warner, who say that Social Security once had 16 workers behind every retiree – but now has only three.
After sending out notice that he had signed on as campaign manager for presumptive GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, Atlanta’s Nick Ayers sent a more personal e-mail to friends, explaining that his decision shouldn’t be read as a slight to other possible candidates – most specifically Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who headed up the Republican Governors Association during a portion of Ayers’ tenure as executive director.
Wrote Ayers, in part, as recorded by Ben Smith of Politico:
It was going to be much easier to sit on the sidelines in Georgia, enjoy the fruits of the private sector, and cheer on all of my friends as they jostled for the Republican nomination for president. That path would have been politically safe, financially sound, and personally very comforting. But it was not the right one.
Over the past six months, I have prayed deeply about my purpose in life and how best to utilize the talents God has given me. I wanted my decision to be wholly about how best to serve Him, not what was most politically or financially expedient for my family and me. As He often does in walks of faith, He has called me to a higher purpose.
I believe that our Nation is truly on the wrong path. We need a new direction that is positive and hopeful. Simply said, we need new leadership. I believe that Governor Pawlenty is best positioned to provide that leadership. Therefore, I am pleased today to join Governor and Mrs. Pawlenty in their pursuit of the presidency.
My decision does not mean I think less of Haley Barbour, Jon Huntsman, Mitch Daniels or Newt Gingrich should they decide to run, because I do not. I know them all personally and believe in their intellect, capabilities, and principles.
You knew that Jimmy Carter was a deacon. But who knew that he was a member of The Elders? Conspiracy theorists will have a field day. From the AFP news service:
SEOUL — Three former world leaders will accompany ex-US president Jimmy Carter to North Korea this month to discuss tensions on the peninsula and food shortages in the communist state, a report said Monday.
JoongAng Daily, quoting diplomatic sources in South Korea, said Carter would be accompanied by former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari, former Irish president Mary Robinson and former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland.
The four are members of a group of ex-leaders known as The Elders. The group said on its website it was concerned at high inter-Korean tensions and the reported food shortages.
“A small group of Elders is considering a visit to the region at the end of April to discuss with officials and others how these issues may be addressed,” the weekend statement said, adding that plans were not finalised.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider