On hiding politicians who violate ethics laws

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

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

187 comments Add your comment

quake

March 29th, 2012
6:52 pm

I’m in the mood for them to go home right now.

bronson

March 29th, 2012
7:01 pm

It is astounding that these people are actually elected in the 21st century in a U.S. state. It would be more understandable if they were in Afghanistan, where the Taliban’s style of rule is expected.

True Conservative

March 29th, 2012
7:16 pm

Right on the money, Bronson!

td

March 29th, 2012
7:31 pm

Waste of time because any abortion is still murder. It does not matter if it is at 20 weeks or right before the child comes out of the womb. We either believe that all human life has inalienable rights or none of us do.

ByteMe

March 29th, 2012
7:41 pm

We either believe that all human life has inalienable rights or none of us do.

Nonsense. Let us know when you consider an acorn an oak tree.

What a waste of taxpayer resources to defend a stupid law that SCOTUS will slap it down as an overreach. Legislators playing OB/GYNs without a license.

Ashley Dawson

March 29th, 2012
7:50 pm

Nice to see that these idiots think babysitting a female womb is more important than the lousy Georgia economy, the pathetic educational system and horrible infrastructure in this state. Glad to see they have their priorities straight.

Tom

March 29th, 2012
7:54 pm

Would the second opinion have to be that of an aging male legislator?

Bennie

March 29th, 2012
8:02 pm

How about a seedling…is that an oak tree? What a silly mindles analogy to try to fob off as an actual thought. You have been in your own liberal monoculture hothouse for far too long. Only a mouth breathing moron would pass off a child as an acorn as though such a stupid thought were persuasive or even relevant.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

March 29th, 2012
8:04 pm

I am personally not all that fond of abortion likely would not lose much sleep at night if it were completely outlawed.

Seeing as though the virtually the only abortions that take place after 20 weeks are for medically-necessary procedures, passage of HB 954 with exceptions for medically-futile pregnancies, pregnancies with complications that threaten the health and life of the mother and exceptions for rape and incest is more than acceptable, though I fully agree that passage of an anti-abortion bill should be far from the first priority in the Legislature.

I also understand that this is an election year and promoting a pro-life plank is a very important issue on the right side of the political spectrum in Republican primaries, especially those in districts and localities dominated by definitively conservative interests.

td

March 29th, 2012
8:12 pm

ByteMe

March 29th, 2012
7:41 pm

I will bet you right now that the law will not even be challenged. NOW, planned parenthood and the left are scared to death to bring an abortion issue before this particular court.

Bridgette Raitz

March 29th, 2012
8:18 pm

It takes two OB’s to decide if a pregnancy is non-viable? Are they planning to let the state of GA pay for the second opinion, along with the legal bill to defend a law sure to be challenged and overturned?

I think we should recall or certainly not re-elect representatives who care less about improving conditions for all Georgians, rather than pleasing far right zealots. Have the number of abortions performed between 20-26 weeks skyrocketed? Compare it to the priorities of jobs, Ga education. Vote them out

td

March 29th, 2012
8:24 pm

Bridgette Raitz

March 29th, 2012
8:18 pm

Since you read these blogs on the AJC and not the actual legislation in the Georgia Legislature then it is easy to see how you can think there was no bills addressing infrastructure and education. As far as the economy goes, unemployment is dropping and the governor has brought several large corporations into Atlanta. BTW: The government does not create jobs!!!!

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

March 29th, 2012
8:32 pm

Bridgette Raitz

March 29th, 2012
8:18 pm

“Have the number of abortions performed between 20-26 weeks skyrocketed?”

No, they have not.

But the Republicans who dominate and rule the Georgia General Assembly are under increasing political pressure from pro-life forces who are increasingly unhappy that the Legislature has not passed any anti-abortion bills since 2005.

Liberals and moderates can say what they want about legislative action on abortion, but Georgia is a state dominated by the Republican Party for whom abortion matters are a very big deal for a solid 60% of the party. Georgia is a culturally conservative state overall and restricting and outlawing abortion will always be an issue at one time or another.

CC23

March 29th, 2012
8:40 pm

@ td “BTW: The government does not create jobs!!!!”

BTW: The government is the largest employer in the United States. In fact, the US Dept of Defense alone is the single largest employer in the world.

td

March 29th, 2012
8:43 pm

CC23

March 29th, 2012
8:40 pm

OK then I guess you will agree that we should cut off welfare to people and build some more F-22’s.

CC23

March 29th, 2012
8:52 pm

Not sure what your point is…. I was simply noting it is factually untrue that the largest employer in the world doesn’t create jobs.

Bridgette Raitz

March 29th, 2012
9:26 pm

td My point was that the legislature had other more pressing priorities than what they are currently spending so much time arguing. Seems to be a national problem for the GOP as well. If this amended version of HB 954 passes, ti will cost Georgia millions to defend it in court before it is overturned. Money well spent? I doubt the majority of voters, including moderate Republicans, would agree.

John

March 29th, 2012
9:30 pm

ByteMe – that acorn becomes an oak tree when something fertilizes it and it splits cells; Becomes a seedling – then a sapling. Ultimately it matures into an oak tree.

So – tell me- when does it become an oak tree??

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

March 29th, 2012
9:37 pm

Bridgette Raitz

March 29th, 2012
9:26 pm

“td My point was that the legislature had other more pressing priorities than what they are currently spending so much time arguing. Seems to be a national problem for the GOP as well. If this amended version of HB 954 passes, ti will cost Georgia millions to defend it in court before it is overturned. Money well spent? I doubt the majority of voters, including moderate Republicans, would agree.”

No, it is very definitely NOT money well spent as the Georgia Legislature doesn’t seem to know the definition of “money well spent”, except when it comes to being a jobs program for lawyers, who seem to get a lot of work off of the Georgia General Assembly these days.

Could it be that in addition to the Legislature being dominated by lawyers, that lawyers and high-profile law firms are amongst those that can be counted amongst the ranks of lobbyists that woo legislators with tens-of-thousands of dollars in money and gifts every session?

Could that be the reason why we see so-much legislation that is likely to be challenged in federal court?

No way!

Bridgette Raitz

March 29th, 2012
9:41 pm

Could be……and thank you for the civil comment.

td

March 29th, 2012
9:44 pm

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?…..

March 29th, 2012
9:37 pm

We have had approximately 1,0000,0000 souls lost in the Iraq and Afghanistan war. Many of these were little babies! Yet I will suck off the legislators and war mongols that condone this behavior by our troops. I will support Sgt. Bales, but I cannot support a woman making a personal decision! It is murder!

Cutty

March 29th, 2012
9:45 pm

Ga GOP= Pro-Life until you’re born!

Bill

March 29th, 2012
9:45 pm

Td. Do us all a favor and go hang yourself!

Real Athens

March 29th, 2012
9:56 pm

TD:

Government created Nathan Deal’s job.

ld

March 29th, 2012
9:57 pm

second opinion?

Religious nuts are trying to price the poor out of the abortion option–

yet they don’t want to pay the medical bills of the poor –

nor do they way to help with the costs of raising a baby–

and, if she’s single, they’ll condemn her on ‘moral’ for having it.

The word I would like to use to describe these “lawmakers” would be censored.

ld

March 29th, 2012
10:01 pm

Someone check the fine print and see if the doctors that decide the fetus is not viable must be male chauvinist pigs — apologies to pigs.

Buckhead Boy

March 29th, 2012
10:05 pm

td: “war mongols”

Is that a Mongolian warmonger or a Mongoloid warrior?

bronson

March 29th, 2012
10:12 pm

The politicians, democrats or republicans, aren’t really concerned about any issue beyond the lining of their own pockets. Remember Deal was a democrat until the republicans figured out the right buttons to push, and he no choice, if he wanted to keep a place at the feed trough. They are all confidence men who play the citizens like a fiddle. The last thing they want is an educated and informed electorate, and so far, they are right on target.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

March 29th, 2012
10:15 pm

td

March 29th, 2012
9:44 pm

As undesirable as the practice of abortion may be, there are still circumstances where it unfortunately is still necessary, especially in cases of difficult and medically-futile pregnancies that pose a threat to the life of the mother.

I understand that your convictions make the practice unacceptable to you personally and I very much respect that of you and the pro-life movement, that you are willing to fight for your convictions, sometime to the death.

But as undesirable of a practice or procedure as abortion may be, there’s no way that an argument could be reasonably made that a woman should be forced to carry to term a baby that will either risk her life, jeopardize her ability to have future pregnancies that may not be as problematic or that she knows will be born either dead or will die shortly after it is born from fatal and sometimes painful birth defects.

That just sounds like a bridge too far in an ongoing debate that many Americans of moderate political philosophy and independent political affiliation frankly feel very uncomfortable with constantly having.

An ongoing debate that most Americans, even those who don’t like the practice of abortion, frankly don’t want to have over-and-over-and-over-and-over again as no one wants to constantly have a conversation about a situation that is so tragic for anyone and everyone that finds themselves in it.

Hmmmm

March 29th, 2012
10:19 pm

Larry O’Neal has “friends?” Who admits they have are a friend of O’Neal? Who in their sane, moral, ethical mind has Larry O’Neal as a “friend?”

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

March 29th, 2012
10:21 pm

House Bill 954 is nothing more than a cynical ploy by the Legislature to turnout the conservative base of the Republican Party for incumbents in the primaries while creating more work for their peers in the legal field who will benefit greatly from the career opportunities that will be created if and when this legislation is likely challenged in federal court.

bronson

March 29th, 2012
10:25 pm

Does anyone believe that the politicians give a hoot about this issue? All they are doing is pacifying their easily deceived base with nonsensical legislation, while they get down to the real business of being wined and dined by the lobbyists, who are robbing us all blind.

td

March 29th, 2012
10:36 pm

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?…..

March 29th, 2012
10:15 pm

First, Your response is to an individual that is stealing my ID. (coward).

As to the points of your argument: I am not advocating a woman carry to term a dead human being. As far as the mother’s life is in danger then I could possible go a long with it as long as it can be proven that the mother would actually die without terminating the human being. IMHO: Any other abortion is pure murder.

How can we as a nation state that all human being are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights of life and liberty and then turn around and say a mother can chose without due process to kill a unborn human beings? We are either a nation that believes in life or no one should ever be convicted of taking another human beings life.

td

March 29th, 2012
10:42 pm

To all of you claiming that HB 954 would be challenged in the courts if passed need a reality check. NOW, Planned parenthood and the ACLU have already said that they are so scared to further erode Roe v Wade with the current configuration of the SCOTUS that they will not bring any cases on abortion to preserve what is the current state of precedents. If you do not believe me then go look for a story Rachel Maddows (MSNBC) did a few months ago on he TV show.

td

March 29th, 2012
10:45 pm

Bill

March 29th, 2012
9:45 pm

Td. Do us all a favor and go hang yourself!

Not until I drive people like you absolutely insane.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

March 29th, 2012
10:54 pm

td

March 29th, 2012
10:42 pm

I don’t know if the people that say that HB 954 would be challenged are necessarily meaning that it would just be either Planned Parenthood or the ACLU that would challenge it as it might be a private citizen that challenges it with legal action.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

March 29th, 2012
11:03 pm

Let’s also not kid ourselves here when it comes to legislation specifically designed to be challenged in the courts.

The Georgia Legislature is a “lawmaking body” (I use that term lightly) that is dominated by lawyers who are constantly being lobbied (lobbied, as in wined-and-dined) by even more powerful lawyers who represent very powerful interests that vary from major corporations to powerful mega law firms.

A lot of legislation that comes out of this body is often written poorly with the intent to end up in a court somewhere where there will be work created for their peers in the law field.

td

March 29th, 2012
11:05 pm

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?…..

March 29th, 2012
10:54 pm

I hope it does get challenged and sent all the way to the SCOTUS. I think it is time for Roe to be overturned and sent back to the legislatures to decide the issue. The court never should have legislated from the bench in the first place.

td

March 29th, 2012
11:08 pm

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?…..

March 29th, 2012
11:03 pm

I totally agree with you on your statement. Why else would attorneys spend a lot of money to get a job that makes them work for three to for months a year for $19,000 and give up 3 months worth of billable hours.

Leader of the free world

March 29th, 2012
11:27 pm

Has anyone else read this article? These comments have nothing to do with the article! Oh my! We are being duped!

Tom

March 30th, 2012
12:11 am

The fishing bill (HB 875) in which the amendment was added allowing certain ethics violations to be sealed or delayed was defeated 143-25 (or something close to that)

RTLGA

March 30th, 2012
1:14 am

Please know the abortion bill, HB 954, was never dead. I can’t believe you fell for that Jim, you’ve been around long enough to know better.

[...] dreams. The bill, apparently written by the Chamber on behalf of its sponsors, was essentially scuttled late Thursday night when most of the anti-union provisions were removed; what remained requires unions to get [...]

[...] dreams, and the bill, apparently written by the Chamber on behalf of its sponsors, was essentially scuttled late Thursday night when the anti-protest provisions were removed. What remained requires unions to get dues [...]

[...] dreams, and the bill, apparently written by the Chamber on behalf of its sponsors, was essentially scuttled late Thursday night when the anti-protest provisions were removed. What remained requires unions to get dues [...]

stranger in a strange land

March 30th, 2012
4:15 am

Td you are still a complete idiot. Typical of this miserable retrograde state.

zeke

March 30th, 2012
4:22 am

let’s hear it for scotus, the clowns that gave us citizens united; td please follow your mentor newt into oblivion.

Bobby

March 30th, 2012
5:50 am

Once again we have the modern day Ku Klux Klan, known as the Georgia Republican party trying to tell women what to do with their bodies and letting men sow their oats with no consequences.

Bobby

March 30th, 2012
5:51 am

Let us hope that TD has no sons to propogate his hate and bigotry on God’s earth.

rawmilkdrinker

March 30th, 2012
6:38 am

A question for those argue that government doesn’t create jobs. Who besides the government buys nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, fighter jets, B1 bombers and spy satelites?