Political Notes – Senate Democrats elect their leaders

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Senate Democrats caucused Monday and elected Sen. Steve Henson (D-Tucker) as minority leader for another two-year term.

Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) was reelected to a new term as minority whip while Sen. Horacena Tate (D-Atlanta) will be the caucus chair, making her the first woman ever to hold that position among Senate Democrats (or Republicans).

A majority of the caucus leadership positions will be held by women, as the officer slate will include Sen. Valencia Seay (D-Riverdale) as vice chair, Sen. Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain) as vice chair for campaigns and fundraising, and Sen. Nan Orrock as secretary.

“We are committed to building a strong and prosperous economy, creating jobs that pay well, improving education and creating an open and transparent government,” Henson said.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side

The Senate Democratic caucus was more peaceful than the caucus held by their Republican counterparts four days earlier at Little Ocmulgee State Park, where the old slate of leaders was replaced by a new team more sympathetic to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

A woman senator also played a key role in the GOP caucus meeting: Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford).

Not every senator was physically present at the Little Ocmulgee meeting, but Unterman said she had proxy votes from 20 senators in the “reform caucus” (including herself) in support of Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) as the new president pro tem of the upper chamber.

Those proxies were sufficient to give the Shafer faction 25 votes in all, just barely more than two-thirds of the Republican caucus (there will be a 38th Republican senator when a special election determines the replacement for Bill Hamrick, who left the Senate to accept a judicial appointment).

“Our reform caucus is committed to uniting fellow senators with the lieutenant governor, restoring order, transparency, and ethics to the Georgia State Senate,” Unterman told Camie Young of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Republicans are expected to revise the Senate rules at the upcoming legislative institute in Athens to give Cagle more of a role in appointing committee members and chairmen, power that was stripped away from him by dissident senators two years ago.

Gingrey concedes: Obamacare won’t be repealed

While Gov. Nathan Deal and other Republican governors continue to fight against the implementation of Obamacare, some congressional Republicans are conceding, if reluctantly, that the federal healthcare law is going to stay on the books.

Shortly after President Obama was reelected Nov. 6, House Speaker John Boehner acknowledged that Obamacare is now “the law of the land.”

Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey of Cobb County, who’s been one of the staunchest critics of Obamacare, is now agreeing that repeal of the healthcare act is not going to happen. As reported by James Richardson of the Georgia Tipsheet:

U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey said Thursday he had resigned to the unlikelihood of a full repeal of the president’s health care reforms, even as he said his party remained committed to the tedious work of dismantling it piecemeal.

“It would be pointless, in my opinion, to have a vote on repeal of PPACA, but we know enough egregious aspects of the law that can and should be repealed, and very likely–well, somewhat likely, I should say–in a bipartisan effort,” Gingrey said yesterday.

House Republicans have voted to repeal the law more than 30 times, each measure failing when it reached the upper chamber. But those bleak dynamics have apparently sunk in.

Gingrey, a doctor from Marietta, said his GOP colleagues would only force another ceremonial vote for “messaging” purposes.

“I don’t think we will have a vote on full repeal unless really it’s a messaging vote,” he told reporters. “I think we should concentrate on our efforts to try to repeal the most egregious parts.”

Falcon fans and a new stadium

William Perry and other members of Common Cause Georgia traipsed to the Georgia Dome Sunday, where the Atlanta Falcons played the Arizona Cardinals, to engage Falcon fans in a discussion as to whether $300 million in tax funds should be used to build a new stadium for the NFL franchise.

What sort of fan reaction did he get? Perry emailed this account: “Surprisingly a majority opposed to a new stadium overall, some mentioned tax dollars, but there was a big ‘keep the Dome’ sentiment. Those mentioning funding strongly favored letting ‘Blank pay for it.’ I was surprised how few want a new stadium.”

Common Cause is sponsoring a public forum on the proposed new stadium Monday evening at 7 p.m. on the campus of Morehouse College. There will be a panel discussion that includes Frank Poe, executive director of the Georgia World Congress Center, Common Cause board member Wyc Orr (a Gainesville attorney and former legislator), and Benjamin Flowers, a Georgia Tech architecture professor who specializes in the community impact of new stadiums.

Mark your calendars

The Georgia School Boards Association and the Georgia School Superintendents Association will hold their annual conference Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at the Renaissance Waverly Hotel in Atlanta.

The featured speakers will include state school Supt. John Barge and motivational speaker and author Kyle Maynard.

© 2012 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: atlanta falcons , Casey Cagle , Common Cause Georgia , David Shafer , Democratic caucus , georgia dome , Georgia School Boards Association , Obamacare , Phil Gingrey , Renee Unterman , Republican caucus , Steve Henson , William Perry