Georgia Political News for March 27, 2012

 

Madison and Mumbles are matching Beagles who are vaccinated, dewormed and heartworm negative, and are available as a pair or individually from Walton County Animal Services. Take two, they’re small.

Legislative Day 39 – The End is Nigh

Despite having been in session until minutes before midnight, the Senate is set to convene at 10 AM today. Here is the Senate Rules Calendar. There are no committee meetings scheduled. Click here to watch the video feed.

The House also will convene at 10 AM, and the House Rules Calendar is here. No committee meetings are scheduled today. Click here to watch the chamber video feed.

For those of you tracking the play-by-play, there is a section on the website called “House Notes” that appears along the right-hand side and tracks the House actions as the clerks update it. It’s the same information that appears on some of the screens. It doesn’t refresh itself, so you’ll want to refresh the page occasionally.

Abortion Debate

The so-called “Fetal Pain Bill” that cuts the time in which elective abortions are available was substantially amended yesterday in the state Senate. The major amendment to the bill was the addition of a section permitting abortions where the pregnancy is determined to be “medically futile.”

Thirteen Republican Senators voted for the amendment.

The Peach Tea Party conservative coalition characterized the amended bill as the “Death for Disabilities Act.”

GRTL State Field Director Mike Griffin tweeted that “Republicans in the Senate allowed a good prolife bill to be damaged today! It’s a sad day!” and “Sen John Bulloch can be held responsible for this!”

Procedurally, the next step, once the Senate transmits the amended bill to the House, is for the House to vote on whether to agree or disagree to the changes. If the House votes to agree, the bill is passed and will be sent to Gov. Deal. But Dan Becker of Georgia Right to Life told the AJC that he will encourage State Rep. Doug McKillip to reject the Senate amendments; McKillip said last night he had not yet decided whether to support the changes.

If the House votes to disagree with the Senate amendments, each chamber will name members of a conference committee that will be tasked with working out a compromise measure that both house would then vote on.

Offices of several OB-GYNs have been broken into in recent days, with laptops being the only items stolen. One of the physicians told Channel 2 that he believes the break-ins are intended “To intimidate physicians from dispensing or arguing about this bill. They are treating us like terrorists and it’s a terrible situation.”

Brookhaven Cityhood Bill Passes Senate

The Senate approved an amended bill to allow voters to decide in July whether to incorporate as the “City of Brookhaven” by a 36-14 vote. The amended bill, which restores the rightful name of “Brookhaven,” will be sent to the Senate for an agree/disagree vote.

State Rep. Mike Jacobs, who represents most of the area and introduced the bill last year, told the Broohaven Reporter.

“Obviously, I am pleased that the citizens are likely to have their say on July 31,” Jacobs said.

House Bill 636 has been amended several times through numerous hearings over the course of the legislative session.

“I hope the citizens recognize that the improvements to the bill during legislative process were made because of citizen input. We changed the structure of the City Council because specific neighborhoods requested it. This truly has been a process where citizens who brought forth legitimate, substantive concerns were listened to and had their concerns addressed.”

A bill to revoke bonuses paid to teachers found to have cheated on standardized tests, HB 692, has been passed by both chambers and will be sent to Gov. Deal for his signature or veto.

The Senate passed House Bill 797, which would allow the state to fund some charter schools and is a companion bill to the Charter School Amendment, passed the Senate with amendments and is headed back to the House.

House Bill 685, which would make a second attack by a dog against a human prosecutable as a felony against the owner, passed the Senate by 50-1.

A House Committee held a vote on SB 469, which protects some private residences from labor picketing, on one-hour notice. Democrats who opposed the measure and some Tea Party activists cried foul.

State Representative Lynmore James (D-Montezuma) will retire from the legislature after this session.

More than a thousand Georgians rallied at the State Capitol yesterday in memory of Trayvon Martin. State Rep. Rashad Taylor (D-Atlanta) asserted that Georgia’s “Stand Your Ground” law is part of a larger problem that led to the shooting.

ObamaCare Before US Supreme Court

Attorney General Sam Olens attended yesterday’s US Supreme Court hearing on procedural issues related to the ObamaCare lawsuit.

“It was an honor to attend today’s oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of all Georgia taxpayers,” said Olens. “The lawsuit brought by Georgia and 25 other states is appropriate at this time, and we need not wait until 2014 when the penalties mandated by the President’s federal healthcare plan begin to take effect. The issues at stake are too significant to delay a decision from our Nation’s highest Court.”

Some commentators believe that the Court’s questions on the procedural issue suggest that the Court is likely to decide the procedural issue in favor of proceeding on the merits of the law.

Some advocates for the health care law demonstrated at the Georgia State Capitol yesterday. They also delivered to Gov. Deal’s office petitions urging the Governor to drop the lawsuit against ObamaCare. They are advised not to hold their breath waiting for that to happen.

Campaigns and Elections

Henry County Superior Court Judge William Ison has dismissed the libel lawsuit by former fringe Republican candidate Ray McBerry against the mother of a girl with whom McBerry had an affair when he was a teacher and the girl was 16. McBerry sued the mother claiming that she libeled him when she called him a “child molester.”

New Augusta Commission lines have been approved by the Senate, which addressed the legislation as a statewide bill, rather than a local bill.

The Chatham County legislative delegation reached a compromise on new districts for the county commission and school board.

Robert Stokely, currently serving as Coweta County solicitor will run as a Republican for the state House seat currently held by Rep. Billy Horne, who is retiring.

Julie Wade will run for Chatham County School Board District 1.

Harris Odell, Jr. resigned as Chatham County Commissioner and was sworn in as Clerk of the Recorder’s Court. The remaining members of the Commission appointed Odell’s wife, Tabitha Odell to the seat he vacated, which may or may not have still been warm.

 Random Notes

The mighty Charlie Daniels Band will play a free concert in Savannah’s Forsyth Park on April 20 at 8:15 PM.

For the next several weeks, Savannah’s Georgia Roundhouse Railroad Museum will be running its steam locomotive on short excursions on West Harris Street.

Steam locomotive 509 still sits in Central City Park in Macon ten months after the city agreed to lease it to a private company for $1 per year for 30 years. The private restoration appears to have slowed or halted.

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