State Rep. Bill Hembree, chairman of the House Industrial Relations, confirmed that his committee this morning passed out SB 469, which would ban union pickets at private residents and require union members to confirm the dues check-off on their paychecks on an annual basis.
Also passed by the committee, which met with less than an hours notice granted to Democrats, was SB 447, the bill to repay $780 million borrowed by the state for unemployment benefits — largely by reducing future benefits.
On SB 469, Hembree said the only change made to the bill, sponsored by Sen. Don Balfour but written by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, was language added to emphasize that the ban on home demonstrations only applies to unions.
That’s one way of looking at it. Another way: The bill establishes a new “right to quiet enjoyment” of one’s residence – but that right will only apply to business executives required to deal with labor organizations.
The Georgia AFL-CIO immediately cried foul:
Democracy doesn’t happen in secret. And yet the leadership of the House Industrial Relations Committee held a vote on SB 469 this morning at 9 a.m. – but didn’t post the hearing on the calendar until 50 minutes earlier.
Just as SB 469 is designed to silence dissent, the committee leadership intentionally posted as little notice as possible to ensure that a minimum amount of opponents would be present. Only one Democrat, who voted in opposition to SB 469, was present.
Hembree took issue with the above account. He said he sent out the notice of meeting to his fellow committee members at 7:57 a.m. Monday, and banged the meeting to order at 9:05 a.m.
Over the weekend, state Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta, announced that he had submitted to a drug test and suggested that all other state lawmakers be required to submit urine samples as well. From his press release:
Representative Holcomb introduced House Bill 677 during the legislative session in response to a bill filed by Republicans that would require drug tests for parents who apply for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits. HB 677 would require that legislators be drug tested.
Representative Holcomb said, “If the state of Georgia is going to make drug testing a precondition for receiving benefits, then legislators need to be the first in line. We receive taxpayer benefits and we should lead by example.”
Using his own personal funds, Rep. Holcomb visited a drug-testing center in his district last week to take a drug test and he received the results on Thursday. He passed.
That led state Rep. Bret Harrell, in a post on Loganville-Grayson Patch, to accuse his Democratic colleague of political posturing. On the other hand, Harrell said, if someone were to hand him a cup, he’d be perfectly fine with supplying a sample for testing.
A presser that Holcomb was to hold this morning at the state Capitol has been cancelled.
One of the less-discussed features of this legislative session, which is rapidly coming to an end, are the numerous local redistricting bills (and accompanying fights) created to adjust to the 2010 census. Here’s one example, from the Mike Stucka and the Macon Telegraph:
A revised district map for a consolidated Macon-Bibb County government would split the county into a white, Republican-oriented west and a center and east that are mostly Democratic and black, a Telegraph analysis of the map shows.
The consolidation map approved Wednesday by the Georgia General Assembly calls for the central and eastern parts of the county to be Democratic strongholds. In each of those districts, Democrat Roy Barnes received a minimum of 67 percent of the votes in the 2010 governor’s race. Those districts also have a minimum of 64 percent black population.
Conversely, the western districts would at least lean Republican and would have a minimum of 57 percent of white residents, the Telegraph analysis shows.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider