Political Notes – Sunday sales bill nears committee vote


Legislation authorizing Sunday alcohol sales in Georgia (SB 10) is expected to get a “do pass” vote in the House Regulated Industries Committee on Monday.

Rep. Roger Williams (R-Dalton), the committee chairman, said the goal is to pass out the bill “clean,” without amendments, so that the measure does not have to go back to the Senate for agreement.

“I’m not going to accept any amendments,” Williams said. “It’s a good, clean bill and the governor has already indicated he’ll sign it.”

If the committee, as expected, votes out SB 10, it will likely go to the House floor for a vote by next Monday, Williams predicted.

SB 10, which would allow local communities to vote on whether to authorize package sales of beer, wine or liquor, was bottled up in the Georgia Senate for most of the session before finally breaking out to the Senate floor for a vote last week.

The Senate voted 32-22 to pass the Sunday sales bill after the measure had languished in the Rules Committee for two months. To avoid another quagmire in the upper chamber, the House of Representatives will strive not to made amendments in SB 10.

More teacher pay, maybe

The House voted 163-2 on Monday to pass HR 248, a measure that kinda sorta says public school teachers could one day regain a 10 percent pay raise for becoming nationally board certified. Maybe.

Up until two years ago, teachers who gained certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards received a 10 percent pay supplement. That salary bonus was scuttled because of the economic downturn that wrecked the state budget.

HR 248 encourages teachers to keep seeking that certification and states that House members “are committed to restoring funding for National Board Certified Teachers at the earliest possible date, as funding permits.”

No date is set in the resolution for the restoration of that funding, however.

Bashing Barry

Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville), who has become the most energetic advocate for banning abortions in Georgia, is taking a beating from the largest newspaper in his district over his anti-abortion efforts.

In a strongly worded editorial in Tuesday’s edition, the Rome News-Tribune takes Loudermilk to the journalistic woodshed:

To this point, Loudermilk has, with publicity trumpets blaring, offered a constitutional amendment that would confer personhood with full rights from conception forward and thus make both abortion and stem-cell research homicide; attempted to limit abortions only to within hospitals (almost all are done in specialized clinics); sought to void any abortion coverage in health-insurance policies; and is trying to permit pretty near anyone to sue a doctor for damages if he performs the procedure without following every nitpicking regulation the state might be able to think up.

The first three aren’t going anywhere in this session. The fourth, SB 210, actually the most ludicrous and insulting, passed the Senate, 36-16, and now depends on the saner heads in the House to stop.

LOUDERMILK must be a good buddy of the tin-pot dictators now running the Senate in the same manner that former Speaker Glenn Richardson once ran the House when it was the senators alone who retained their sanity. Under the Gold Dome, lunacy resulting from an overdose of power is apparently contagious. He got this through the Rules Committee without public hearings or examination by the Judiciary Committee in which its huge failings would have been detected. That is pretty much unheard of.

First of all, it is worth noting that this measure would allow damage lawsuits for the “full value of the life of an unborn child” by any interested party even if all consent forms have been signed by the mother. This is more than parents who lost a wanted child because a physician actually botched something up can currently sue for. Some may recall that Loudermilk’s predecessor, Sen. Preston Smith, R-Rome, ill-advisedly and poorly rewrote the malpractice laws and slapped on damage limits that apparently would not apply in this case.

Incredibly — actually, the entire measure is incredible — Loudermilk states that “some party” feeling aggrieved could sue, not just the woman. As Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, correctly but futilely pointed out: “This is the rapists’ bill of rights.”

Heck, an incestuous father could sue as well. So, for that matter, would any pro-life advocacy group be “some party.”

Loudermilk vows to get this corrected but misses the point entirely. This is none of the state government’s business or concern in the first place.

EVERY governmental power claimed has a flip side. If politicians can deny abortion then they similarly can, as China’s government once did, mandate abortion for population control. Our service members today — and Loudermilk was once in those ranks — even today are fighting the Taliban and other Muslim extremists who seek to impose draconian religious beliefs on those who by right (remember all that “endowed by their Creator” stuff?) are free to make their own choices, have or not have children, speak freely or bite their tongues, own guns to protect themselves and so forth.

It is the abuse of rights, not the rights themselves, that can be addressed as a common concern.

That Loudermilk seems not to grasp this is more than disappointing. It is dangerous.

Another preening and posturing politician is the least of all the many things this nation, this state, this county need at the moment.

Tax changes? Maybe not

The LaGrange News quotes its hometown legislator, Rep. Randy Nix (R-LaGrange), as predicting that no major changes in the state’s tax code are going to be made during this year’s legislative session.

The News reported in a Tuesday article:

Don’t look for sweeping changes in Georgia’s tax structure any time soon.

The state’s Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness recently issued a list of recommendations, including a 4 percent tax on more than 50 services and eliminating the sales tax exemption on food, even Girl Scout cookies. The state’s income tax would be reduced from 6 percent to 4 percent.

But legislation to implement the changes “is not going anywhere this year,” state Rep. Randy Nix of LaGrange said Saturday at a political forum sponsored by the Troup County Republican Party.

“We need to start the dialogue and look at the tax structure,” he said. “It’s’ a good idea to tax when the money is spent rather than when it’s earned.”

Nix appeared at the forum at LaGrange Memorial Library with state Rep. Kip Smith and state Sen. Josh McKoon, both of Columbus. Nearly 100 attended.

“I’m not fond of the idea of taxing groceries,” Nix said. “… I’m not going to vote to tax Girl Scout cookies.”

But “don’t panic,” he said. “… I think we’ll see a lot of give and take and debate before this goes forward.”

Democratic hearing

The Senate Special Committee on Immigration and Georgia’s Economy will hold another public hearing Thursday, starting at 7:30 p.m., at Cisco Auditorium on the Gwinnett College Campus (Building C) in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

© 2011 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Abortion , Barry Loudermilk , Randy Nix , Roger Williams , Sunday alcohol sales