Your daily jolt: Bloody Marys, stogies dropped from Senate lunch menu

By tradition, Coca-Cola has served as the corporate sponsor of a luncheon honoring the president pro tem of the state Senate at the opening of each year’s session.

Also by tradition, the menu has included Bloody Marys and cigars. But no more. We’re told that both alcohol and stogies have been removed from this afternoon’s festivities honoring David Shafer, R-Duluth, the Senate’s newly elected leader.

The reason? The flourishes were thought to clash with the Capitol’s embrace of ethics reform, including a $100 per lawmaker cap on gifts from lobbyists passed by the Senate on Monday.

Or perhaps it was fallout from Coke’s new anti-obesity campaign. Either one.

***
Speaking of ethics, here’s the exchange that just took place between House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle at this morning’s Eggs & Issues breakfast, sponsored by the Georgia Chamber. My AJC colleague Greg Bluestein said Cagle had just finished bragging about the Senate’s approval of a $100 cap on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers:

Ralston: “I tease my friend that it was more of a sun visor than a cap that they adopted yesterday. (Chuckling)

Cagle: “Where are those boxing gloves? (More chuckling)

Ralston: “We can disagree about the way we do this. At the end of the day I anticipate the lieutenant governor and the Senate and the House will come to an agreement about what constitutes a real change. We can debate a ban or a cap all day long but let me make a couple of points that get lost in this discussion.

“What the specifics are kind of cloud why we’re having this discussion. What it boils down to is who is going to influence public policy in this debate …Is it going to be influenced by the political class or media elites who make … a clearly erroneous perception of the kind of people in the Georgia House and the Georgia Senate?

“As I told one of my friends in the media two days ago, I’m glad I’m not (Falcons kicker) Matt Bryant. Every time we kind of get ready to do something, they move the goal post.”

***
Also at this morning Eggs & Issues breakfast, sponsored by the Georgia Chamber, every state officer present was asked to stand and be recognized. All but one, that is. School Superintendent John Barge was left out.

The slight was unintentional. Barge was belatedly introduced after a speech by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. But for a few minutes, everyone wondered whether it was another sign of the high-profile split between Barge and the rest of the state GOP leadership over charter schools. More than a few lawmakers have hinted that the school superintendent will see some punishment in his budget.

***
Despite his criticism of President Barack Obama over federal finances, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson said he’s hoping to see some good news in the White House budget proposal due out next month. “We are hoping and have our fingers crossed when the president’s budget comes out in the next 18 days, it will have an earmark for the Savannah harbor [dredging] project,” he said. “We’re this close. We’re not there yet, but we’re rounding third base and getting ready to slide into home.”

***
Much of the morning conversation was about Senate Bill 24, the governor’s proposal to solve the “bed tax” dilemma by giving the state Department of Community Health the power to raise Medicaid assessment fees on hospitals.

As Todd Rehm at Georgia Pundit points out, one measure of the greased rails under this bill is the fact that the bill’s appearance before the Senate regulated industries committee on Tuesday was scheduled before Jack Murphy, R-Cumming, was named committee chairman.

My AJC colleague Kristina Torres has the complete details here, but Bill Barrow of the Associated Press captured this exchange:

Besides the political implication, [Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Tucker] and Sen. David Lucas, D-Macon, noted that tax and fee bills must originate in the House of Representatives. Henson and Lucas voted against [Sen. Charlie] Bethel’s measure.

Bethel answered Lucas: “It’s an authority bill” that merely empowers the state health board to decide the issue. “They may decide a fee is not appropriate,” he added.

Yet earlier in his pitch, Bethel said, “This is a $689 million proposition,” the estimated total of the hospital tax and the resulting federal bounty.

***
The U.S. House passed $50 billion worth of new disaster spending for Hurricane Sandy last night – nearly matching the Senate’s bill and paving the way for quick aid to the Northeast, as well as a bunch of other spending most House Republicans did not want. But House Speaker John Boehner again allowed a vote to be carried by Democrats: the final tally had 192 Democrats and just 49 Republicans.

According to my AJC colleague Daniel Malloy, Georgia’s five Democrats all backed the bill while the state’s nine Republicans did not. (Jack Kingston, who missed all of Tuesday’s votes, is stuck in Savannah with something fluish. Doctors would give him clearance to fly to D.C.).

The state’s Republicans also mostly backed a failed conservative effort to offset the new spending with a 1.63 percent cut of all programs – including the military. Austin Scott of Tifton was the only Georgia Republican objector.

And an amendment put forth by Republican Rep. Paul Broun of Athens to reduce National Weather Service funding by $13 million brought the state’s GOP delegation in line but failed overall, 206-214. That would have been wonderfully ironic – using a measure to help hurricane victims to cut funding for the people deputized to keep an eye on hurricanes.

***
The AJC’s Politifact Georgia today takes a look at U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey’s contention that U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin of Missouri was “partly right” when he said that a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so that a pregnancy doesn’t occur in cases of violent rape.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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

44 comments Add your comment

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 16th, 2013
9:51 am

They should roast a donkey instead.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 16th, 2013
9:53 am

With a slab of pork in it’s mouth, of course.

john hayes

January 16th, 2013
9:53 am

Anyone that thinks the Georgia Legislature is there to help the state run effectively, honorably, and fairly are bigger fools than the fools that are in the legislature. Republicans or Democrats. Toxins by any other name. We are the fools to keep sending them back to do their DIRTY work. John Hayes Pelham, Ga.

Richard Hallman

January 16th, 2013
9:54 am

Considering your lead item, this is an interesting typo in the second sentence of the second item:

Ralston: “We can disagree about the way we do this. At the end of the day I anticipate the lieutenant governor and the Senate and the Souse will come to an agreement about what constitutes a real change. We can debate a ban or a cap all day long but let me make a couple of points that get lost in this discussion.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 16th, 2013
9:58 am

That would have been wonderfully ironic – using a measure to help hurricane victims to cut funding for the people deputized to keep an eye on hurricanes.

They only missed the Sandy landfall by about 800 miles so yeah, let’s shower some more obozobucks on them.

123

January 16th, 2013
9:59 am

If Assop couldn’t say something stupid, he wouldn’t know what to say

123

January 16th, 2013
10:01 am

Funny that many Republicans are feeding from the Sandy trough, but Assop is only crying about Obama

waaaaaaaaaaaaa

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

The Speaker folded like a cheap suit. Republicans Senators got every dime they wanted and knew they were going to get

hiram

January 16th, 2013
10:12 am

@123
Assop is td’s latest sock puppet. He retired cc.

liberalefty

January 16th, 2013
10:16 am

poor @ss hop

he tries to be relevant bless his heart

123

January 16th, 2013
10:18 am

He still uses cc as “Christian Conservative” over at Bookman’s blog.

Not sure about assop. He is “I report” and “Andy”. He changed to Assop from I report after Wingfield gave him a timeout for comments that were even more stupid than his usual.

His vitriol and self hate can’t be disguised with a new blog name

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Old Hippie

January 16th, 2013
10:20 am

I feel sorry for “Dr” Gingrey’s former patients – there is no telling what kind of medical malpractice he inflicted on them with beliefs like this. He must have slept thru Obstetrics class in med school.

Synonymous

January 16th, 2013
10:29 am

“What it boils down to is who is going to influence public policy in this debate …Is it going to be influenced by the political class or media elites who make … a clearly erroneous perception of the kind of people in the Georgia House and the Georgia Senate?”

Once again the Speaker blames the media for what he considers an incorrect view of the Legislature as a bunch of crooks. Hmm, I wonder where they got that idea, Speaker Ralston? By the way, how’s the weather in Germany this time of year?

You want to change the public perception of your institution? Stop creating rules and laws like the Senate did this week, continuing to bar citizens from being involved in ethics complaints. How about you work to change the transparency laws so we have a better idea of how the sausage is made at the Gold Dome? Oh, you can’t do that, can you? That would shine light on too many things you don’t want seen, so we continue to have little to no open-records access to the General Assembly.

Oh, and as to who should influence public policy in this debate? HOW ABOUT THE PUBLIC, WHICH HAS OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORTED STRICTER ETHICS LAWS AND GREATER OPEN-RECORDS ACCESS TO THE LEGISLATURE. In spite of what you might think, Speaker Ralston, the ‘political class’ that you represent is supposed to answer to the PEOPLE. Not the other way round.

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Road Scholar

January 16th, 2013
10:32 am

Does someone proofread the editorials before they are posted? Souse? “Hurricanje Sandy”?

Aesop:”They should roast a donkey instead.”

No, but how about your a$$?

Synonomous

January 16th, 2013
10:32 am

Sorry for the duplicate posts, but as you can see, AJC.com is a crap website. Mr. Galloway, you guys are paying too much to whomever built and maintains this website for you, because it functions about as well as a football bat.

Road Scholar

January 16th, 2013
10:34 am

Synonomous: Impatient?

Agree with your post.

J Throckmorton Malcontent

January 16th, 2013
10:37 am

Governing less well is not the same as less government. And clearly the National Weather Service is critical infrastructure.
On the national stage and down in the minors in the Georgia Legislature, it’s amusing watching the Republican Chamber of Commerce types trying to keep the wheels turning and out of the hands of the monsters they created. The jury is out on Speaker Ralston, maybe he will get in touch with his inner Speaker Murphy and put the important things like Medicare funding where only the adults can reach them. Politics does make for strange bedfellows.

Michael

January 16th, 2013
10:58 am

How is it possible that they can receive unlimited gifts or any gifts at all? Gifts are not given so that you don’t remember the lobbyist at vote time. Gifts are vote buying and influence peddling. The legislators have their hands out because it is legal. Isn’t this corruption through and through? Is there some federal exception in political corruption laws that allows this? I mean, I know it has been going on since Grog gave his brother-in-law Mog the cave paving project but that was before the internet made everything so apparent.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 16th, 2013
10:58 am

Let’s see here, I want to start a whole nuther political party and the mouthbreathing liberals accuse me of being hypocrite for the Repugs, almost as though they don’t need to look in the mirror.

You liberals are poster children for the illiterate class.

123

January 16th, 2013
11:03 am

“You liberals are poster children for the illiterate class.”

Translation: Assop is saying that he is a big whiny baby

waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

NOAA

January 16th, 2013
11:05 am

Private companies like Accuweather have been lobbying to get rid of government forecasting for years. Santorum championed the legislation long ago since Accuweather was one of his paid constituents. I would not be surprised if every legislator calling for cuts has an Accuweather, a Weather Channel or a Weather Underground as paid constituents.

DJ Sniper

January 16th, 2013
11:10 am

Who keeps electing these fools?

Oh yea, the people who live in this state.

DannyX

January 16th, 2013
11:12 am

Just got an email from Republican activist Beth Merkleson. Beth is doing great these days, Patricia, her mother now 81, has been doing great and has fully recovered from her surgeries, in fact she now has a boyfriend!

Anyway here is a message Beth wanted me to post here.

“I am trying, though I feel like a lone voice at times, to get Republicans to wake up and demand that their Senators behave like Republicans and enact real ethics reform. If we don’t, we’ll have one mad power hungry and immoral party in charge of the legislative branch of Georgia. Republican leaders sit in their ivory tower insisting ethics reform is some sort of conspiracy the “media elite” have hatched. As you pray for the Senate and for healing there today please add the Atlanta Falcons to your prayer list. Pray for a Falcons win, and pray that our Republican leaders will come to their senses and end the new stadium fiasco. God Bless, Beth Merkleson.”

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 16th, 2013
11:17 am

Not sure about assop. He is “I report” and “Andy”. He changed to Assop from I report after Wingfield gave him a timeout for comments that were even more stupid than his usual.

His vitriol and self hate can’t be disguised with a new blog name

You know, I totally understand that when someone has an intelligence level at about a third of what a normal healthy adult should have, like 123 for instance, their participation in the discussion is limited to a few grunts and shrieks and diaper fillings and repetitive, saying the same filthy things day in and day out. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should eliminate the retarded, I’m ore worried about their personal well being.

Everyday, Aesop this Aesop that, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, do have this much power over these morons to get them to bark and whine like they do? stfu, psycho.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 16th, 2013
11:20 am

Go back to watching Oprah you bug eyed freak.

john hayes

January 16th, 2013
11:21 am

DJ electing these fools is the smaller problem. Reelecting these fools is the never-ending nightmare. Since W I have not voted for any incumbent. Anyone that does earns the blame and the abuse. These clowns have 2 simple agendas: (1) pocket as much wealth for themselves and family members without getting caught. (2) Getting re-elected. Anything else that they do is purely happenstance. Republican or Democrat.

123

January 16th, 2013
11:35 am

“Go back to watching Oprah you bug eyed freak.”

Wow…. Not only does he talk to himself, but he also post in on a blog

bwhahahahahaha

123

January 16th, 2013
11:37 am

Assop

Watch that anger son. One you do not have the ability to make anyone “STFU” and two your therapist needs to up or lower your meds.

Your mood swings and anger are too easily displayed because of your lack of maturity.

Hint: You have a low EQ. Speak to your therapist to see if there is anything that can be done.

take care now

123

January 16th, 2013
11:38 am

And thanks for proving my point with your own words

Eric

January 16th, 2013
11:42 am

And again, Assop, the adults are trying to have a conversation here. Sit in the corner and be quiet.

Synonymous

January 16th, 2013
11:45 am

@123: Do you have any political thoughts that are coherent and relevant, or do you just like abusing other people in forums?

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 16th, 2013
11:54 am

8 comments from satan, and only 8, everyone of them is about me.

Ever been confronted by a psychotic in some parking lot? That wouldn’t go away? Remember how much safer you felt once you were inside the store? And how you thought we need more mental health services to get these people straight jacketed and medicated?

Notice the similarity with this satan thing?

Ol' Timer

January 16th, 2013
12:24 pm

Enter your comments here

Travis McGee

January 16th, 2013
12:28 pm

Congress is such a lovely bunch of hypocrites. They opine about cut, cut, cut and cut; except when it’s some project or earmark in they can take credit for in their district.

That’s why the cuts will fall on the backs of the poor, mentally ill, homeless, addicted, disenfranchised and elderly.

We should all hang our heads in shame for electing such a lovely bunch of idiots!

td

January 16th, 2013
1:30 pm

Aesop’s Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 16th, 2013
11:54 am

123, auntie christ, satan, billy mays hayes is all the same person. He is one of those youngsters that still lives in his moms basement and is not wise enough yet to have a political thought. All he can do is come on blogs and be confrontational. I am sure his mom really would want him to go and find a job and get the heck out of the basement but that is all mom’s fault for sparing the rod when he was young.

Kris

January 16th, 2013
1:51 pm

Richard Hallman “”Considering your lead item, this is an interesting typo in the second sentence of the second item:
Ralston: “We can disagree about the way we do this. At the end of the day I anticipate the lieutenant governor and the Senate and the”””” Souse””””

The AJC is like the internet, If they print it it has to be true. He he he

Ralston was probably thinking of all tyhe bills passed with PORK in them soused in bbw sauce..

@ DJ Sniper “Who keeps electing these fools? Oh yea, the people who live in this state.””

Not this Fool! Recall or vote the GOP slime covered with souse.

123

January 16th, 2013
2:13 pm

td

where is cc? Seems you don’t bring him to hold your hand at Kyle’s any longer, but still need him at Bookman’s…..

Marlboro Man

January 16th, 2013
2:29 pm

Ga GOP congressmen are “tokens” (and I mean nothing about race) — they are puppets.

Don Abernethy

January 16th, 2013
2:41 pm

Booze and cigars are typical of the playboy politicians spending money from lobbyist. But the dumb old voters keep putting them back in office. And you don’t think they would vote to turn down a new stadium and deny themselves an air conditioned suite to watch football ( naturally the lobbyist will supply all of this and the tickets) do you?.

A

January 16th, 2013
2:47 pm

Serious question: Why does the GA legislature only meet for 40 days a year? Seriously? Only 8 weeks a year to run the state?

Synonymous

January 16th, 2013
5:06 pm

@A:

40 days is 30 days too long for these idiots. I wish it was 40 days every two years, like Texas. Less time for them to screw us.

Kris

January 16th, 2013
5:22 pm

Not sure if this fact…Some pharmacy’s near the gold dome are reporting a shortage of Viagra.

Just saying.

Also some of the Ladies of the evening are complaining that getting paid in Birth control pills is not right, cash only!

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