Archive for the ‘Tommie Williams’ Category

With Sunday sales and immigration, Georgia’s center of gravity shifts to suburbia

You may not have felt it, but the ground shifted in Georgia last week.

On a tectonic plate set in motion by 236 members of your Legislature, the state’s center of gravity slipped several miles north, out of Georgia’s rolling farmland and into the fringes of metro Atlanta.

State Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, accepts congratulations after final passage of his controversial immigration bill, HB 87. AP/David Goldman

State Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, accepts congratulations after final passage of his controversial immigration bill, HB 87. AP/David Goldman

It took a pair of disparate bills to point out the new fault line that now divides suburban and rural Republicans.

During the three-month session of the General Assembly, nothing spoke of suburban Atlanta’s growing clout like passage of the bill to permit the Sunday sale of packaged alcohol.

After a five-year fight, Republicans shook off opposition from a weakened conservative Christian lobby and embraced the concept of a well-lit beer aisle in the grocery store that can be visited after church.

Final passage in the 180-member House on Tuesday produced 40 “no” …

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A very late jolt: Tommie Williams on the Senate leadership fight

In the waning minutes of the winter session of the Legislature, Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, sat down in his office and quietly explained why Senate Republicans couldn’t accept Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s proposal to resume command of the chamber.

Williams produced his copy of Cagle’s letter – you can read it here – and went through it point by point. Williams specifically pointed to this section:

There will be a daily meeting of the Lieutenant Governor, the President Pro Tempore, and the Majority Leader to consult on the flow of legislation, bill assignments, procedure, conferees and day-to-day operations of the Senate during the legislative session….

Consulting isn’t power-sharing, Williams noted. The lawmaker from Lyons drew three silos on the back of Cagle’s letter: One was Cagle’s power to name conferees, another was the lieutenant governor’s power to assign legislation. The third silo was the Committee of Assignments – which Cagle would like to chair, …

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Your morning jolt: A Sine Die fight over Senate leadership

The Senate Republican caucus has gathered again this morning, to continue its debate over who will lead the chamber through the last day of the session.

A session that started on 1 p.m. Wednesday ended in time for the 7 p.m. Braves game – with a few breaks in between. Casey Cagle paid two visits during the day, to argue his case for a return to a chamber led by the lieutenant governor.

The object is to settle the issue before senators point their brake lights toward Atlanta – rather than allowing it to fester until the General Assembly re-assembles later this summer.

A vote to change the Senate rules is possible today, though it would require Democratic cooperation – and the approval of two-thirds of the chamber.

GOP members of the Senate will be asked to vote on one of two proposals now on the table. Peach Pundit offers this description of the first:

The proposal pushed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle would alter the make-up of the Committee on Assignments from the current structure, …

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Your morning jolt: A call for Casey Cagle to resign, from a Tommie Williams aide

On her Facebook page Monday, Republican activist Pat Tippett commented on an unsourced – and so far, unverified – report that Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is colluding with Democrats to regain his authority in the state Senate.

Cagle has denied any Democratic involvement, but that didn’t convince Tippett:

”Lt. Gov. YOU NEED TO RESIGN! Why do you think we spend our valuable time, money, and energy for our party? It is not to see the democrats in control! RESIGN!”

None of this would be worth noting, except that Tippett is also a part-time staffer for Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams, the lieutenant governor’s rival for leadership of the chamber. Tippett works out of Williams’ office in Lyons, Ga., and is paid from the ranking Senate Republican’s campaign account.

Tippett and her friend Kay Godwin are perhaps the most influential GOP volunteers in south Georgia. They are co-founders of Georgia Conservatives in Action, a group that received $2,000 from Williams in 2010, according …

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Casey Cagle: Senate ‘experiment’ is against tradition

We have talked about the difficult position Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams and Majority Leader Chip Rogers are in when it comes to the power struggle in that chamber.

But Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is in a tight spot, too. He can’t be perceived as having any personal ambition to have his powers over the chamber restored.

Below is how Cagle responded, in an interview with Nwandi Lawson of Georgia Public Broadcasting, to House Speaker David Ralston’s call for the Senate to end its “little experiment” with alternative leadership. We believe this is the only sitdown interview the lieutenant governor has given:

Said Cagle:

”Clearly the [House] speaker was very frustrated yesterday, and I think he made a very valid point. It’s been an experiment that really is against tradition within the state Senate.

“You’ve always had the lieutenant governor not only as the presiding officer but as the real leader of the Senate. And the rules changes took some of those powers away. It really …

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A counter-revolution brews in the state Senate

A counter-revolution may have just started in the state Senate.

George Hooks, D-Americus, this morning introduced SR 526, a resolution to change the Senate rules so that points of personal privilege – those five-minute speeches allotted to senators on any topic they choose – are moved back to the beginning of each day’s session.

PPPs are often an occasion for Democrats to vent.

In the November revolt that stripped Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle of his powers, the Senate Republican caucus had decided to place the PPPs at the end of daily business – when far fewer people are paying attention.

Upon this morning’s introduction of Hooks’ bill to reverse that decision, Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, immediately jumped up and made a motion to engross the measure – so that other amendments to the measure, perhaps restoring Cagle’s authority, could not be attached.

In the ensuing debate, Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams, who assumed leadership of the chamber after Cagle …

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Your morning jolt: Another anti-abortion bill may be sinking

Over in Iowa, the hot topic is the resurgence of social conservatives in the budding Republican caucus season.

Not so much in Georgia.

Social conservatives here have had a rough few years getting anti-abortion bills through the Legislature. This year, they have been reduced to one: SB 210, sponsored by state Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, would make it easier to sue abortion providers.

Pro-life forces have long suspected that many of the state restrictions imposed on physicians who perform abortions – parental consent for women under 18 among them – are routinely ignored. Enforcement by the state is nearly non-existent, they claim.

SB 210 would allow another avenue for enforcement, through civil suits.

Pro-life forces have been concerned enough with the friction between certain portions of the Legislature and Georgia Right to Life, the state’s preeminent anti-abortion group, that they have asked former state GOP chairman Rusty Paul to help smooth the way for SB 210.

The …

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Your morning jolt: A quiet Senate win for Casey Cagle

The balance of power within the state Senate shifted slightly toward Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle on Wednesday night.

There were no fireworks, no public displays. Nearly every member of the Senate was aware of the seismic development, but it barely made a ripple in the Crossover-Day tide of bills.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle/Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle/Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

The cause of the quake was SB 223, a tiny little bill carried by Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, an attorney and freshman member of the body.

The measure would establish a “Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee” that would pass a magnifying glass over state bureaucracies – in theory, looking for outdated activities that might be eliminated.

As originally worded in the measure, House Speaker David Ralston would appoint one co-chairman of the Committee. Sen. Judson Hill, R-Marietta, chairman of the Senate Government Oversight Committee, would appoint the other.

An outsider might think that this was an attempt to keep an appointment out of the …

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Your morning jolt: Final mid-year budget deal was out of sight — literally

The Legislature breezed through one of its major hurdles on Monday, giving final approval to a mid-year adjustment to the state’s $18 billion budget that will provide schools with an extra $83 million for additional students.

From my AJC colleague James Salzer:

Scene from a protest of cuts to the HOPE scholarship -- in advance of today's Senate vote. Johnny Crawford, jcrawford@ajc.com

Scene from a Capitol protest of cuts to the HOPE scholarship — in advance of today's Senate vote. Johnny Crawford, jcrawford@ajc.com

The chambers agreed on a spending plan that runs through June 30 after adding $13 million to help fund the Morehouse School of Medicine, which made a last-minute plea to lawmakers for extra money. In total, Morehouse and the Mercer School of Medicine, another private medical school, will both get about $21 million in state funding this year.

But the details of the final negotiations are murky. For the first time in anyone’s memory, there was no House-Senate conference committee to hammer out – in public – the final disagreements. The matter was settled privately, out of view of people who …

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Redistricting duties removed from nonpartisan UGA institute

Never mind those other states that make redistricting a high-minded, nonpartisan process. Republicans have made their move to make this summer’s redrawing of political boundaries in Georgia a thoroughly GOP affair.

From Shannon McCaffrey with the Associated Press:

Partisan bickering erupted over redistricting on Thursday as Republican leaders created a new legislative office and tapped a prominent GOP lawyer to advise the effort.

Democrats complained they’d been left out of the decision-making and worried Republicans could be politicizing the process, in which new Census data is used to redraw congressional and legislative lines.

“That they did not include Democrats in this decision raises some serious questions about transparency and accountability,” House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams said.

Senate Democratic Leader Robert Brown said he repeatedly raised questions about the plan for redistricting but got vague responses from GOP leaders. He said Thursday’s news was “very …

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