House Democratic leaders at the state Capitol cut loose their caucus members this morning, declaring lawmakers should vote their districts when it comes to HR 1162, the proposed constitutional amendment to allow the state to create charter schools over the objections of local school systems.
Early this month, a House vote on the constitutional amendment fell 10 votes shy of the required two-thirds majority to approve it.
Caucus Chairman Brian Thomas of Lilburn, cited Democratic changes to the legislation accepted by the measure’s primary sponsor, Speaker pro tem Jan Jones, R-Milton. From the press release:
“The House Democratic caucus fought to protect local control, and the new concessions are a step in the right direction. We negotiated to improve a fatally flawed bill that stripped funds from local schools and given a blank slate to political appointees creating new schools. Our caucus sought to protect local funds and local control, and we are pleased that this negotiation was prevailed.”
But House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams of Atlanta indicated she’ll remain a “no” vote:
“A substantial number of legislators continue to object to the unnecessary expansion of state authority, while we fail to meet our basic obligations in education. My personal belief is that a constitutional amendment is ill-advised and an over-reach of government. However, with the protections Democrats secured, this is now a local issue, where legislators should vote as their constituents demand. The Senate will continue to vet HR 1162 and make additional improvements.”
Tonight marks what’s likely to be the season finale of “House-husbands of Tampa Bay,” that long-running series of GOP presidential debates. But renewing the series remains a possibility, and so the storyline will end with an Arizona cliff-hanger.
Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul will gather at 8 p.m. tonight on CNN. The focus won’t be on Gingrich this time, but the pressure to perform will be. From the New York Times:
Mr. Gingrich, more than any other candidate, has seen his fortunes ebb and flow with debates, and there is a consensus in his team that his big loss in Florida’s Republican presidential primary last month was in no small part because of debates in which he strained to look above the fray. According to one top aide, Mr. Gingrich’s two daughters had advised him to strike a presidential pose, but that was not the Newt Gingrich voters craved.
“To some extent,” said Bob Walker, another top adviser, “we didn’t let Newt be Newt in those debates.”
A CNN/Time magazine poll released this morning declares Arizona to be a toss-up. From the Swampland:
Romney is backed by 36% of likely Republican voters in the state, a slight edge over Santorum’s 32% in the winner-take-all scramble for the state’s 29 convention delegates. Newt Gingrich lags in third with 18%, while Ron Paul nabs 6%. The survey, conducted Feb. 17–20, has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points….
Romney has cobbled together a coalition that includes female voters, urbanites and more moderate and educated Arizonans. He leads Santorum among women (38% to 33%), white collar Republicans (39% to 32%), college graduates (38% to 31%), voters who are neutral toward or oppose the Tea Party movement (42% to 27%) and those who make under $50,000 (36% to 28%)….
Santorum’s lone significant demographic advantage is among born-again Christians, with whom he leads Romney 37% to 28%.
Down in the polls, and reduced to circling the wagons around Georgia and Tennessee, Newt Gingrich is trying something different: A 30-minute address aired “in key cities between now and Super Tuesday,” aimed at voters worried about gasoline prices, according to Politico.com. Here’s the video, if you have the time, and the transcript if you don’t:
Charles Edwards of WABE (90.1FM) reports that Gov. Nathan Deal is already mulling over whether he might freeze an automatic increase in the state’s gasoline tax, which can be triggered by higher prices:
“The last time we froze the tax and avoided the increase on the state level,” said Deal. “We are in discussions right now as to whether or not that would be appropriate to do again.”
Deal froze the tax last summer costing the state $40 million dollars. The Governor told reporters today he doesn’t know how much it would cost the state this time.
Don’t look for this to happen any time soon. The windows for taking such action are at the beginning of the state’s fiscal year (July 1) or its midpoint (Jan. 1). Or if the price of gasoline rises more than 25 percent within a three-week period. So far increases have been more gradual than that.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has created this video pitch for the March 6 vote to continue a sales tax for sewer repairs:
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider