Political Notes — New committee chairs named in House

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House Speaker David Ralston disclosed the appointment this week of several committee chairmen to replace legislators who recently resigned from the General Assembly to take other jobs.

Rep. Carl Rogers (R-Gainesville) has been named chairman of the House’s Higher Education Committee, replacing Len Walker.

Rep. Ann Purcell (R-Rincon) is the new chair of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. She replaces Tim Bearden, who was named director of the state’s law enforcement training center.

Purcell will relinquish the chairmanship of the Human Relations and Aging Committee, where she is being replaced by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson).

Rep. Stephen Allison (R-Blairsville) is the new vice chairman of the Game, Fish & Parks Committee. He takes over from Rick Austin, who left the House to run unsuccessfully for the Georgia Senate.

Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) was named secretary of the House Rules Committee as the replacement for James Mills, who was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to the State Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Rep. Billy Horne (R-Newnan) was named vice chairman of the Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation, where he replaces Rep. Barbara Sims (R-Augusta).

Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) is the new vice chairman of of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Economic Development and Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome) is vice chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Human Resources.

Williams will step down

Rep. Roger Williams (R-Dalton) has decided not to run again for the Legislature, which will bring to a close more than 21 years of service in the House of Representatives.

“I will not run again this year. I will be coming back home, where I think I belong,” Williams said in a speech to the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, according to a report in the Dalton Daily Citizen.

As chairman of the Regulated Industries Committee, Williams was instrumental in securing the passage last year of historic legislation that allowed Georgia’s cities and counties to vote on the Sunday sale of packaged alcoholic beverages.

Williams, whose father also served in the Georgia House, was elected to five terms as a Democrat between 1976 and 1986. He returned to the House as a Republican in 2001 after winning a special election to replace the late Harold Mann.

Riley will run against Broun

Democrat Tim Riley, an alcohol and drug abuse counselor who ran unsuccessfully for the Georgia Senate in each of the last two election cycles, said he’ll run this year against U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, an Athens Republican.

Broun is also being challenged in the Republican primary by Stephen Simpson, a retired military officer from Macon.

Haley blasted

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is still being lambasted by her Republican colleagues over a decision by a state board she controls to issue a controversial environmental permit that will allow the Georgia Ports Authority to dredge the Savannah River.

Robert Behre reports in the Charleston Post & Courier:

“It’s just the worst economic, environmental decision that I’ve seen in the 32 years that I’ve been here in Columbia,” state Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell said.

McConnell, R-Charleston, said the “big step backwards” would kill plans for a port in the Palmetto State in nearby Jasper County. “They get the jobs on the Georgia side, and we get the cadmium-layered sludge on the South Carolina side.” . . .

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has decided to permit Georgia to deepen the river from 42 to 48 feet up to its Garden City Terminal.

State Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Charleston, said the approval was a “blunder,” adding, “It gave the advantage to Georgia.”

. . . Both McConnell and Merrill said the Savannah River Maritime Commission should have been consulted — and they hope the commission will block it. The commission, on which McConnell serves, already has voted to challenge DHEC’s November decision.

The General Assembly previously has passed resolutions opposing the dredging, but it could go further in its upcoming session.

“I think there are outside-the-box ways for us to revisit this and address the situation,” Merrill added.

© 2012 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: David Ralston , Georgia Ports Authority , House committees , Nikki Haley , Paul Broun , Roger Williams , Savannah River dredging