On Feb. 5, when the south Georgia contest to replace John Bulloch is completed, Republicans will have 38 members in a 56-member state Senate.
That will give the GOP a super-majority of two-thirds. Which means Democrats will be a super-minority.
Nonetheless, Senate Democrats this morning intend to push out their agenda for this year’s legislative session. Much of it is blue-skying, but here’s a quick rundown of the new legislation they’ll attempt:
– A bill to eliminate all distinctions between the Zell Miller scholarship and other HOPE grants, and to require colleges universities and tech schools to accept HOPE payments as full tuition. Sponsor: Curt Thompson of Tucker;
– A bill to reduce GPA requirement for HOPE grants to 2.0. Sponsor: Jason Carter of Decatur;
– A prohibition on the use of handheld devices while driving. Horacena Tate of Atlanta;
– Repeal of the “fetal pain” bill that the Legislature passed last year, reducing the period during which a woman can seek an abortion to 22 weeks. Nan Orrock of Atlanta;
– Restoration of health insurance mandates to out-of-state health care insurance policies, removed by the Legislature last year. Sponsor: Orrock;
– A bill to require judicial review of home foreclosures. Sponsor: Vincent Fort of Atlanta. This could resonate with Republicans who have been critical of Georgia’s eminent domain laws. And you’ll recall that former House speaker Glenn Richardson ran on this last year, during his unsuccessful run for the state Senate.
– Establishment of an independent redistricting commission. Sponsor: Hardie Davis of Augusta, who no doubt would like to see Republicans stop toying with his congressman, John Barrow.
– A more stringent version of the $100 cap on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers: $100 a year, in aggregate, with no loopholes. Sponsor: Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson of Tucker;
– The addition of an early voting day on the third Saturday before elections. Sponsor: Henson;
– Restoration of advance voting time to same period as absentee voting. Sponsor: Henson.
Walter Jones of Morris News Service offers an account of Monday’s opening hostilities in the state Senate that includes these paragraphs:
Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, offered an amendment to strip Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s ability to appoint senators to committees and decide which committees consider bills. Crane was blocked when the Senate voted to prohibit any changes to the proposed rules, which eventually passed 42-12.
“This is may be the end of my political aspirations, but I will never stop fighting for liberty,” thundered Crane, who speculated afterward that Cagle would assign him to insignificant committees and stifle consideration of his bills as punishment.
As a matter of fact, we’re told that a list of Senate committee assignments, due to come out at 3 p.m. Monday, was delayed 90 minutes in order to review Crane’s assignments – and those of former state Senate president Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, who also lodged a complaint from the well.
Crane ended up with no leadership positions and a seat on the following committees: Retirement; Special Judiciary; State and Local Government Operations; and State Institutions and Property. Which means his prediction came through.
Williams fared somewhat better, with appointments to Agriculture and Consumer Affairs; Appropriations; Reapportionment and Redistricting; and Public Safety.
Twitchy.com reports that U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, deleted his Twitter account shortly after reports that he told a group of constituents that former U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri was “partly right” when he spoke of “legitimate rape” and the unlikelihood of a woman becoming pregnant as the result of a violent assault.
Ruling Republicans in the Legislature have said they’ll hold off on any major bills to address illegal immigration until they see what their GOP brethren in Washington produce. That process has begun, with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida taking the lead with a few trial balloons.
From Matthew Kaminski of the Wall Street Journal over the weekend:
Whether Mr. Rubio is courageous or foolhardy, the outcome on Capitol Hill and the impact on his career will tell the story. Immigration has long been a profitable wedge issue for Democrats and Republicans. On Wednesday at the Biltmore Hotel near his home here, Mr. Rubio spells out a reform plan that charges up the middle.
His wholesale fix tries to square—triangulate, if you will—the liberal fringe that seeks broad amnesty for illegal immigrants and the hard right’s obsession with closing the door. Mr. Rubio would ease the way for skilled engineers and seasonal farm workers while strengthening border enforcement and immigration laws. As for the undocumented migrants in America today—eight to 12 million or so—he proposes to let them “earn” a working permit and, one day, citizenship.
Those proposals amount to a collection of third rails for any number of lobbies. Organized labor has torpedoed guest-worker programs before. Anything that hints of leniency for illegals may offend the talk-radio wing of the GOP.
“We can’t have the kind of vibrant growth we need and the economy we want, based on limited government and free enterprise, if we don’t have a legal immigration system that works,” Mr. Rubio said. “And in order to have a system that works, we have to deal with those people who are already here illegally.”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider