The busy attorney general across the street

Something was different about the night the Legislature shut down, and it wasn’t the hovering protesters or shoving matches among lobbyists outside the chamber.

Nor was it the sneaky, last-minute amendment, or the bottles of oak-aged stimulant tucked inside this cloakroom or that.

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens

No, the most unusual sight on that Thursday evening was Attorney General Sam Olens on the House floor, attempting to push through the last of his four bills.

The measure, intended to stop the spread of “pain pill mills” in the state, didn’t make it. But it was Olens’ only disappointment of the week, which began quite prominently in a pew before nine U.S. Supreme Court justices.

For three days, Olens shuttled between the health care arguments in D.C. and his legislative package in Atlanta. On the far end, simply by witnessing the high-court sessions, Olens established himself as the lead Republican voice – at least, in Georgia, one of the suing states — on the what’s sure to become the hottest political topic of the summer.

In Atlanta, the attorney general successfully pushed through a rewrite of the state “sunshine” laws that give the public access to government documents and meetings.

All in all, the week was evidence that Georgia’s first Republican attorney general styles himself an activist — something the state hasn’t seen in a while. ”I think it’s a fair statement that the AG’s office is more engaged in the Legislature now,” Olens said in a Friday interview.

But first, Olens’ notes from three days of Supreme Court watching:

“The lesson of the first day was that no justice had the appetite to bar the case and not proceed on the merits,” said Olens. He noted that many of the justices, unusually, had given seats to family members – a signal that they, too, expected some history to unfold.

Tuesday was given over to arguments over the new law’s requirement that everyone should buy health insurance. Many viewed that as the most important portion of the argument. “But I’m not sure that’s correct,” Olens said.

Because Wednesday was devoted to another mandate — that states open their Medicaid programs to more poor people, or face a massive loss in Medicaid funding. “Some of the justices that were more reserved on the issue of the individual mandate, were less reserved on their concern about coercion,” the attorney general said. “That’s where you saw the biggest ideological divide.”

This is where, depending on the breadth of any decision overturning the health care overhaul, this lawsuit could have an impact well beyond health insurance. Strings on federal money have become commonplace — for instance, the passage of seat belt laws and legal drinking ages set at 21.

“It could have a huge effect. One of the things we tried to hit home with on this [lawsuit] is that the principle of federalism is on trial here,” Olens said. “This appeal is not about health care. This appeal is on the limits of federal government.”

Closer to home, Olens said he realizes that he’ll have to be careful about how many times he walks from his office across the street to the state Capitol. “While there are some legislators that appreciate us having an agenda, there are others that are not so sure,” he said. “So we need to be respectful of the process.”

His rewrite of the state’s sunshine laws increases fines for violations and allows the state to pursue offending government officials with civil suits rather than criminal prosecution. Both make pursuit of malefactors more palatable. Under the current code, Olens said, “If I went to bring a charge in Chatham County, it cost me more in gas money than the fine.”

In that same legislation, Olens also brokered an end to a longstanding feud between Georgia governors and the state’s newspaper publishers over whether attempts to to lure new industry to Georgia should be kept secret. Gov. Sonny Perdue wanted a lid on such efforts, but was rebuffed. Gov. Nathan Deal had made one a campaign promise.

The governors said they feared competing states would gain real-time access to incentives Georgia offered to companies. Newspapers feared that the costs of those incentives would be hidden from the view of taxpayers.

“The prior proposed bills were so overly broad, that the press correctly, vehemently disagreed with the proposals,” Olens said. And he pointed out that the state’s newspaper concerns had signed off on the new provisions.

Documents relating to economic recruitment projects worth $25 million or more, or involving 50 workers or more, will now be state secrets – until the deals are consummated or abandoned. At which time, the state will be obliged to put all related documents online, without anyone asking.

But Olens, the former chairman of the Cobb County Commission, said he had no intention of supporting an extension of that secrecy to industry recruitment by local governments.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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97 comments Add your comment

Huh.

March 31st, 2012
9:18 am

“Georgia’s first Republican attorney general”? Though originally elected as a Democrat, I thought Bowers switched Parties while still in office.

Road Scholar

March 31st, 2012
9:49 am

We need those”pain pill mills” to get over the latest legislative session! No ethics, no vote.

John

March 31st, 2012
9:52 am

Yet again, Republicans pursuing MORE government. GLAD that his pain pill bill failed. How about we treat our docs like the professionals they are, rather than having them have to worry about what some podunk real estate broker from the middle of nowhere, South Ga, thinks about what they do?

Truthbe

March 31st, 2012
10:21 am

How about criminal or civil charges against the officials at T-SPLOST for their dishonesty and corruption by breaking the Ga400 toll road contract with the people of Georgia. That toll road on Ga400 was written with a sundown law and a 20 year term after that it was to be taken down. Also all the money collect was suppost to be used to pay for it, maintain and run it. But they stole from it for the crooks downtown at city hall to use. Now Ga400 is a permanent toll road. People wake the f@#K up. When these crooks ask you about a toll road the only answer is NO.

honested

March 31st, 2012
10:30 am

A faithful tool of the republican party hewing closely to the line of ‘those that brung him’.

A huge disappointment for the People of Georgia!

td

March 31st, 2012
11:02 am

Appears that Sam is doing an excellent job. He is spot on with the state’s rights argument. It is time we get back to the Federal Government following the Constitution and out of the business of legislating on matters that belong to the states.

A Hamilton

March 31st, 2012
11:06 am

A syndicated columnist said it best on the Health case: [Scalia was comparing the mandate to the purchase of a vegetabe.]
“health insurance is nothing like broccoli. Why? When people choose not to buy broccoli, they don’t make broccoli unavailable to those who want it. But when people don’t buy health insurance until they get sick — which is what happens in the absence of a mandate — the resulting worsening of the risk pool makes insurance more expensive, and often unaffordable, for those who remain. As a result, unregulated health insurance basically doesn’t work, and never has. There are at least two ways to address this reality — which is, by the way, very much an issue involving interstate commerce, and hence a valid federal concern. One is to tax everyone — healthy and sick alike — and use the money raised to provide health coverage. That’s what Medicare and Medicaid do. The other is to require that everyone buy insurance, while aiding those for whom this is a financial hardship.”

Bob Loblaw

March 31st, 2012
11:06 am

It’s awesome to see an attorney general being proactive at the G.A. I don’t care if they are a D or an R, but our A.G.s never have engaged in public policy and that is a lack of leadership. Sam is the man!

A Hamilton

March 31st, 2012
11:17 am

As for Olens’ “activism,” he’s brght and ambitious and will clearly be running for Governor or Senate within the next 6 years. The risk he’s taking is whether he has branded himself farther to the right than even Georgia will be by then. Because, after all, the activism is PR for the brand and opponents will hang it on him should the tides shift.

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
11:21 am

another klansman in a suit…lol…he believes in less guvment unless its to control a womans womb..

@liberalefty 11:21 am

March 31st, 2012
12:02 pm

“another klansman in a suit” – comments like this only show uninformed, ignorant and idealogical bias against anyone with an “R” for political leaning. You either have no idea who Sam Olens is or just blissfully wish to ignore his background.

honested

March 31st, 2012
12:06 pm

If only A.G. olens had not blissfully ignored his ‘background’.

I once thought he had a backbone and would stand up to the ignorant masses in his ‘base’.

But obviously, it ain’t in him.

td

March 31st, 2012
12:15 pm

The constitution, nonetheless, must be reformed big time! It is time to put the voice back in the hands of the people! I firmly believe that this is the last straw…either put the power back in the hands of the people, or risk the inevitable! We owe it to our future generations to start a democratization process!

td

March 31st, 2012
12:18 pm

td
March 31st, 2012
12:15 pm

It looks like the liberal imposter is back! It is too bad buddy! Everybody knows that I do not believe in a democracy! We live in a republic, and I will be damned if the majority of constituents are empowered!

td

March 31st, 2012
12:38 pm

And this is what you leftest call responsible journalism in America.

http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV?id={F85B2E66-5AD0-4ECA-B114-FACBEAEF4917}&title=Toure-To-Piers-Morgan-You-Dont-Understand-Black-Humor-America-Or-Seriousness-Of-Zimmerman-Case

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
12:39 pm

religion equals racism…just ask the SOUTHERN BAPTISTS and their terrorist wing, the KKK

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
12:40 pm

ANDREW BREITBART the bigot who lied about SHIRLEY SHERROD…thank god we have one less bigot in the world

Wallis T. Coper

March 31st, 2012
12:43 pm

the KKK kep the contry, save from thugs an drug dealers, when memership went down, black crimes went up

td

March 31st, 2012
12:44 pm

liberalefty
March 31st, 2012
12:39 pm

What is your point you leftist? This is a free country!

td

March 31st, 2012
12:45 pm

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
12:40 pm

And if it was so bad then why did Obama have her fired personally?

honested

March 31st, 2012
12:48 pm

The problem with a ‘free’ press is that it allows lies to be repeated.

Right td?

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
12:48 pm

td

that was before they knew the tapes were doctored…but i guess u knew that..why did the dead bigot doctor the tapes?…

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
12:50 pm

td

why did the dead bigot doctor the tapes? more evidence of rightwing christan hatred of blacks

td

March 31st, 2012
12:51 pm

honested
March 31st, 2012
12:48 pm

Story of my life brother!

td

March 31st, 2012
12:53 pm

Jim Galloway,

Since you seem to not care about the integrity of your blogs and will not call out these thugs that disrupt the public debate on issues then I will lower my standards for these particular individuals.

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
12:57 pm

religion equals racism…the more religious this country was the more racist,sexist and homophobic it was….now we have less religion and more freedom for everybody which conservatives hate

honested

March 31st, 2012
1:01 pm

td,

Whoever it is you called ‘a bed wetting pus’ I doubt the are a rethug, therefore your derogation would be inaccurate.

td

March 31st, 2012
1:06 pm

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
12:57 pm

Since you feel this way why do you not just get on a greyhound bus (because by your writing we know you can not afford a car) and head on down to Samford and join your hero (Al Sharpton) and start the process of increased civil disobedience.

Just to give you a warning, Florida is a stand your ground state and if you jump up in the face of some white man that is armed then he is going to be able to shoot you and we then you might not get to have your wasted vote for Obama in November.

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
1:08 pm

td

why so much hate dude, calm down…i thought u was a sanctimonious christian…lol..wwjd?

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
1:10 pm

stop impersonating td…hes a righteous dude…hehehehehohohohohahahaha

Dumb and Dumber

March 31st, 2012
1:10 pm

Olens is a politician not a lawyer. The rank and file staff at the AG’s are underpaid, under-trained and many lawyers just use it as a resume filler. The state spends way too much money on high-dollar outside counsel because the state won’t invest in developing competent counsel. High-dollar outside counsel represent the state DNR and the companies DNR regulates at the same time — hence we have polluters getting off without repercussions when they violate environmental laws.

Olens did not create this situation, but he is doing nothing to change it. In his campaign for AG he veered hard to the right in order to win election. As a Cobb County Commissioner he was at least a moderate on some issues — now he’s tilted so far to the right that he is just another partisan shill.

td

March 31st, 2012
1:15 pm

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
1:08 pm

What hate are you talking about. I am seeing if you are a typical lib and just flame hidden behind a screen name or on the news show where there is no consequences for your actions or if you are a man of action.

BTW: Christian does not equal weakness my friend.

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
1:19 pm

and i’mm seeing u for who you are too. an angry chickenhawk bigot who spends 16 hours a day blogging because he has no life…

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
1:21 pm

TD

quit whining to JIM its so unmanly…hehehehohgohohohaha

td

March 31st, 2012
1:22 pm

Dumb and Dumber

March 31st, 2012
1:10 pm

Why should the AG’s office have to pay more money to retain the best trail lawyers and then have to pay them benefits and retirement when the majority of the work they do is nothing more then ministerial functions? The tax payers save more money by hiring lawyers for a few years right out of law school at lower pay to take on these functions at a lower rate of pay. These lawyers pad their resumes and move on to the private sector before they are vested in the retirement system. Sounds like sound policy to me.

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
1:22 pm

WILL the person impersonating td please stop it before he has a HISSY FIT…

honested

March 31st, 2012
1:23 pm

Dumb and Dumber

You amplify the point I was making.
It appeared BEFORE the campaign that olens had the interest of the Citizens of GA at heart.
It didn’t take but a few commercials in the campaign and a couple of pandering acts to his funders to show he was a ‘true red republican’.

And GA loses.

honested

March 31st, 2012
1:27 pm

td,

Yes, taking orders from imaginary beings really makes you strong doesn’t it.

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
1:31 pm

my god mo powerful than yo god…

td

March 31st, 2012
1:34 pm

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
1:19 pm

Angry in the way the Koch brothers hate communism and refuse to see this great nation turn that route. Communism/socialism/progressiveism are all evil and must be stopped.

As far as not having a life, I can assure you I have a great life. I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, have two great children that are excellent students, a great conservative wife that is just drop dead gorgeous, a great business, a nice home and a beach front condo. My life could not be any more fulfilled.

An added bonus is I get to come on this blog almost on a daily basis and make you see what your life could be if you would take some personal responsibility and work hard.

Jamba

March 31st, 2012
1:38 pm

Wallis T Coper,We all know you are TD with spell check turned off.

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
1:40 pm

td

more lies dude …youre on here 18 hours a day. you can spout as many lies as u want but i dont believe them..youre just a racist birther with a computer and nothing more…hows lifev in the trailer park? hehehehe

td

March 31st, 2012
1:49 pm

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
1:40 pm

When you have earned a College degree and worked for nearly 20 years building a business from the ground up then you can come and talk to me about running a business. Until then please do not tell me what it takes. Ask honested, he is a long term business owner.

Yes, when you did not acquire the necessary skill sets when you are young and are not willing to take a risk and work like a dog for 5 plus years then you can work for someone else and they can tell you not to go on blogs. BTW: I thought I told you to get those bathrooms cleaned yesterday and stay off the internet. Do you want me to fire you. LOL

liberalefty

March 31st, 2012
1:53 pm

td

more rantimgs from the lunatic fringe…i know i’ve made a poster mad when they start telling me how much they got{house,car,money} etc….then i know theyre lying..youre a perfect example. hahahaha

Raymond Vasquez

March 31st, 2012
2:21 pm

Great material put out by the University of West Georgia. Thank you so much!

Hillbilly D

March 31st, 2012
2:23 pm

The governors said they feared competing states would gain real-time access to incentives Georgia was offering to companies.

I’ve always found that argument to be unrealistic. If Georgia is negotiating with some company, anybody with a shred of walking around sense knows that the company is quickly going to go to Alabama or whatever other states are in the mix and say, “Well, here’s what Georgia is offering, what are you going to give us?”. To think that the negotiations are going to be secret is naive. It’s not that the powers that be don’t want other states to know, they don’t want us to know.

Ol' Timer

March 31st, 2012
2:42 pm

@td — You’re not taking you meds are you?

Bennie

March 31st, 2012
3:03 pm

If liar and serial adulterer were a disqualifer for president, I am sure you opposed Clinton vigorously. Right?

Goodadvice

March 31st, 2012
3:04 pm

Robert Kennedy, Jr. said that business controlled by government is called communism, and government controlled by business is called fascism. Business interests like the pathetic plutocrats in health insurance and drug companies don’t care a whit about the health of America. They care only about creating more billions for their coffers. And beyond that mean-spirited goal in collusion with huge bags of money, scary corporate interests simply want to continue their agenda of a handmaid’s tale state of laissez faire everything for our nation. It is immoral to make a profit off of someone getting sick. (Thank you Michael Moore)
When are the people of America going to see through this scam? Obviously many celebrity commentators all over the cable TV media are crudely myopic and pitifully skewed by their sponsors as to health care. America needs this law to use preventative health care and health care in general as it should be used, for the benefit of the nation by using science and medicine. Hopefully our papist and dandyish supreme court majority can open their eyes to see those benefits of health care for all the regular people of America and disregard all the political fluff of election year, respect the process of legislation and leave the law alone.

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