Augusta’s Prince learns freshman lawmakers can be effective | The Augusta Chronicle

10
Mar

Augusta’s Prince learns freshman lawmakers can be effective | The Augusta Chronicle

ATLANTA — The government was set up so that ordinary citizens can affect what becomes law, but the first challenge is learning how.

Seen through the eyes of a freshman legislator, the process is complicated but not impossible.

“What you learn in school about how a bill becomes a law is approximate,” Rep. Brian Prince, D-Augusta, says with a grin.

Prince is at the end of the Capitol pecking order as the least senior member of the minority party.

He jokes about that with the legislator sitting in the desk next to him on the House floor, Rep. Dewey McClain, D-Lawrenceville, who has 11 days more seniority since both won special elections.

McClain, a retired pro football player and labor union official who’s often been to the Capitol and the fringes of power, acknowledges things are different as a legislator.

“To me, it’s a whole lot different. When you’re on the outside, you hear what you think is going on. When you’re on the inside, you know what’s going on,” he said, joking that he elected Prince the leader of their “freshman class.”

The process begins with an idea, Prince explains. It takes two weeks or so for the Legislative Counsel’s staff lawyers to draft it into the form of a bill.

The legislator recommends changes, confers with the lawyers, and in another week winds up with something he formally introduces when he “drops it in the hopper,” or actually just an ordinary, letter-size desk bind from any office-supply store.

via Augusta’s Prince learns freshman lawmakers can be effective | The Augusta Chronicle.

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