Updated at 11:10 p.m.: This was just posted by my AJC colleague James Salzer:
A couple of years ago they changed the name of the Georgia Ethics Commission to the Government Transparency Commission. Tonight the Senate passed a last-minute amendment that allows the “transparency” commission to seal the records in some cases against politicians and delay reporting some violations. Nothing like the 40th day – and night – of a session at the Georgia Capitol
Find the largesse in HB 875, a fishing license bill.
Updated at 10:07p.m.: In very volatile speech, state Sen. Steve Thompson, D-Marietta, all but accused House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, R-Bonaire, of collusion with banks to block a bill – SB 448 – that would free some developers in Georgia of making good on loan guarantees that are sold by banks to other lenders.
A compromise was eventually reached, contained in SB 129. But not before Thompson had his say. “I hope they pay for it one day. Because they’re fixing to ruin some people who built our state,” Thompson said. “I haven’t called a name. if you can’t figure it out, come see me.”
Thompson noted that the House majority leader – i.e., O’Neal – was on the board of directors of a major bank in Georgia. He also raised O’Neal’s role in the passage of a tax exemption passed for his client, then Gov. Sonny Perdue a few years ago.
We have no way of getting in touch with O’Neal as we write this, but invite comments from him or his friends.
Updated at 7:45 p.m.: The House Rules Committee just stripped out the sections of SB 469 that would ban demonstrations at or near private dwellings, in order to permit the bill to come to a vote tonight.
The remaining portion of the bill requires unionized employees to renew annually permission to deduct dues from their paychecks. The bill exempts educators, law enforcement and – with yet another amendment – firefighters. Debate will be limited to one hour, but passage is likely.
Union forces here aren’t pleased, but say the remaining provisions of SB 469 are likely to be moot, since they run afoul of federal requirements.
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce sends this, from spokeswoman Joselyn Baker:
“Based on our work with legal experts and the US Chamber, we believe that the other two provisions you refer to – workplace notice and paycheck protection – will be legally upheld if challenged.”
The anti-protest provision of SB 469 originally included only union activities – but nonetheless resulted in an odd alliance of labor organizations and tea party forces. “Sometimes the good guys win,” said Debbie Dooley of Atlanta Tea Party Patriots.
Updated at 7:10 p.m.: Here’s what we’re told is the deal intended resolve the passage of HB 954, the bill to shorten the period during which a woman can seek an abortion:
The House will agree to the Senate amendments protecting doctors against civil suits, and offering an exemption for “medically futile” pregnancies. But yet another amendment would require that before a fetus is declared non-viable, a woman would have to seek out a second opinion.
Original:Two pieces of hot legislation just got a last chance in the final hours of this legislative session.
SB 469, the bill that now bans all protests at private dwellings, has been recommitted to the House Rules Committee, which gathers at 7 p.m.
More important, HB 954, the bill to shorten the period during which a woman can seek an abortion, is now going to a House-Senate conference committee. House conferees are Doug McKillip, R-Athens, the bill’s sponsor; House Appropriations Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn; and Donna Sheldon, R-Dacula.
Both bills will likely be racing against a settlement on HB 347, the bill that will determine how Georgia repays the federal government $780 million borrowed for unemployment benefits.
When that bill passes, the Legislature will be in a mood to go home.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider