Archive for the ‘David Ralston’ Category

The chill on conversation at the state Capitol

Possibly, you’ve already seen this piece by me and my AJC colleague Andria Simmons:

Metro Atlanta physicians who participated in the General Assembly’s debate on new abortion restrictions say they warned lawmakers that they were being targeted for reprisals. And they are skittish about returning to the state Capitol next year when the topic is all but certain to come up again.

Lawmakers, too, say they’re worried.

Two burglaries and two fires at Atlanta-area women’s clinics and a burglary at the the main office of the Georgia Obstetrical and Gynecological Society are being investigated by the FBI as possible acts of domestic terrorism or civil rights violations.

Four of the five offices targeted are run by doctors who had voiced concerns — sometimes publicly, sometimes privately — about the so-called fetal pain bill, which shortened to 20 weeks the time frame during which women can have an elective abortion.

“These are despicable acts and if there is some relationship between …

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Gift caps and a Republican fear of promises in writing

Promises, promises.

Only three weeks have passed since a coalition of tea party and good-government groups began pressing legislative candidates to back a measure capping gifts from lobbyists to state lawmakers at $100.

Not $100 per day. Just $100 per gift. And only those gifts that come from registered lobbyists. It is a bar so high that, were it a limbo dance, most of us could climb up on a pair of stilts and still pass underneath.

As of Wednesday, 80 candidates running in the July 31st primaries have promised in writing to sponsor – not just vote for – legislation that includes these exact words: “It shall be unlawful for a lobbyist to make a gift to a public officer where the value of the gift is more than $100.00.” Signers include the top two leaders of the Republican state Senate.

This despite a warning from House Speaker David Ralston that liberal groups involved in the pledge drive are leading Republicans down a primrose path that could result in an underground economy …

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Your morning jolt: Casey Cagle joins call for $100 gift cap on lawmakers

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle on Tuesday became the latest figure at the Capitol to declare his support for a $100 gift cap for state lawmakers, vowing to build support for ethics reform in the General Assembly. From the Gainesville Times:

“It’s a process, and the legislature’s got to get comfortable with it,” Cagle said.

Cagle, who spoke to the Kiwanis Club in Gainesville Tuesday, said he supports a measure like the one [Sen]. Josh McKoon proposed last session that died….

The lieutenant governor said a July 31, non-binding ballot question is likely to push GOP lawmakers to embrace stronger ethics rules:

“I think there’s going to be a lot of support — a lot of support,” Cagle said.

Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, last week pledged his support for a gift cap. At this month’s state GOP convention, House Speaker David Ralston declared it to be the wrong approach.

The Associated Press has pinned down a location for President Barack Obama’s visit to Georgia next …

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The mystery of the Republican casino question

Ladies and gentlemen: With this post, I’m taking a few days off. Have a safe Memorial Day weekend.

The mark of a successful political convention is an absence of surprises.

By the time thousands of Republicans fled Columbus last weekend, the forces of Ron Paul had been routed with a heavy hand. Not a surprise.

Delegates to the annual state convention had rebuked the GOP-controlled Legislature for refusing to get serious about ethics reform. Important but predictable, given the anger of tea partyists.

And the Republican party’s executive committee, just before delegates jumped into their cars, had announced the five non-binding questions that will be placed before GOP voters on the July 31 primary ballot.

Topping the list: ‘Should Georgia have casino gambling with funds going to education?”


The very topic stunned the highest-perched Republicans in the land. “The casino question was a shock coming out of the convention — given the prominence of social conservatives in the …

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House Speaker David Ralston endorses Doug Collins in 9th District race

Gov. Nathan Deal may have declared his neutrality in the GOP contest for the new 9th Congressional District, but House Speaker David Ralston has not.

As noted by the north Georgia news site,, Ralston on Monday showed up at a fundraiser for state Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, and said this:

“It’s going to take more than someone just talking about something up there…Doug has experience. He knows how to pass legislation; he knows how to get things done.”

Just possibly, Ralston’s remark was directed at Martha Zoller, a former radio talk show host from Gainesville who is one of Collins’ opponents. She’s promised to set up an Internet-based talk show just off the floor of the U.S. House.

Also remember that Ralston is somewhat indebted to Collins. Even though he was stationed in Iraq as a military chaplain at the time, Collins was one of the few House Republicans to stick his neck out for Ralston when the Blue Ridge lawmaker mounted a disastrous challenge to …

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Maria Sheffield endorses $100 cap of gifts to state lawmakers

You may or may not agree with him, but House Speaker David Ralston was right about one thing – the argument over ethics in the state Capitol will certainly cause some fissures in the GOP.

Here’s a message that Maria Sheffield, one of four Republicans in the fight to oust U.S. Rep. John Barrow, just posted on her Facebook page:

I will vote yes for ethics reform July 31 on the GOP Primary ballot. I invite and encourage all conservatives to join me. I congratulate Senator Josh McKoon and my friends Julianne Thompson and Debbie Dooley of the TEA Party, Kay Godwin and Pat Tanner Tippett of Georgia Conservatives in Action, and Dan Becker and Nancy Stith of Georgia Right to Life for their leadership on this issue.

The ballot question specifically calls for a $100 cap on gifts to state lawmakers. Sheffield isn’t likely to be the last to line up behind it.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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

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House Speaker: Liberal groups seek to divide GOP over ethics

COLUMBUS, Ga. — House Speaker David Ralston closed out the first day of the state GOP convention by warning delegates away from a movement to rebuke the Legislature for its refusal to accept a cap on gifts from lobbyists.

The House speaker came close to accusing those associated with the movements of consorting with liberals. His message came at the end of a 10-minute speech that closed out the afternoon session.

And if the body nearly 4,000 delegates and alternates decides to pass a resolution endorsing a gift cap, Ralston strongly hinted that he would ignore it.

The speaker began his speech by listing the accomplishments of the Legislature over the last two years, including a major anti-illegal immigration bill in 2010 and a measure passed this spring to shorten the period during which a woman can seek an abortion.

But he closed with this:

”In times of great majorities like we enjoy now, we must remember that there are those around us who seek nothing less than to divide …

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The changing fortunes of the transportation sales tax

The cover of a flyer sent to metro Atlanta voters this week by Citizens for Transportation Mobility, the group pushing the July 31 vote for the transportation sales tax.

The cover of a flyer sent to metro Atlanta voters this week by Citizens for Transportation Mobility, the group pushing the July 31 vote for the transportation sales tax.

If opponents of a transportation sales tax for metro Atlanta seem to be flailing, perhaps it is because they have finally gotten a glimpse of the behemoth that’s headed their way.

Even a year ago, the idea that voters might approve the penny sales tax, given the state of the economy, appeared fool-hardy. Things have changed since then.

The economy has inched up. So have the stakes. The size of the push from corporate Atlanta has already begun to show itself, in fancy mailings, television commercials, websites, and robo-calls.

Another month will pass before we have a firm grasp about who has put how much money behind the campaign for what’s now called the Transportation Investment Act.

But assume that enough cash to run a respectable campaign for governor will be crammed into the 10 counties of metro Atlanta. …

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Your morning jolt: A last-minute slap at criminal justice reform

Gov. Nathan Deal’s criminal justice reform bill, which should win final approval on this last day of the legislative session, has been widely applauded for its attempt to reduce the size of Georgia’s prison population.

So a critical editorial in the Macon Telegraph came as something of a surprise. A few paragraphs:

Now the state returns with another schizophrenic proposal to lower the number of felony offenses its responsible for adjudicating. In other words, they want to lower the number of inmates in state prisons. How can it do that? Change the definition of a felony from a $500 to a $1,000 offense. It’s not that a thief stopped stealing, it just means instead of being a state felony it would be a local misdemeanor, and local taxpayers would have to foot the bill.

The state only pays 40 percent of the actual costs of feeding and housing state prisoners. And it leaves them languishing in our jail and others across the state for days and weeks. The carrot lawmakers have …

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Kasim Reed: New Falcons stadium would fetch Super Bowl

Updated at 12:55 p.m.: See new material below.

Original: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says he doesn’t view removal of funds for a College Football Hall of Fame from a proposed state budget as any barometer of state Capitol enthusiasm for a new, publicly financed stadium for the Atlanta Falcons.

“I don’t take any message from it at all,” Reed said. “I know that the governor is committed to the stadium effort, that the Falcons are committed to it, and my message is real clear. We’re going to honor our commitment to be completely supportive to building a stadium. And that’s where I am.”

The mayor spoke about the a new Falcons stadium at the tail end of an interview about voter approval for a renewal of an essential sewer sales tax.

Reed says there’s still much negotiation to be done – and that he’s not likely to be deeply involved in those talks:

”The other parties can go on and work on their part of the equation. I’m only speaking for me, and what I have responsibility for, and …

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