Political Notes – Now the lobbying focus turns to the governor’s office

After three months of asking legislators to pass or defeat various bills, capitol lobbyists now turn their attention to the second floor of the capitol, where Gov. Nathan Deal will be making the final decisions on whether to sign or veto those bills.

On the issue of immigration, which has been a sensitive topic for the past six or seven sessions, Deal is already being asked by activists to veto SB 160, which tweaks the immigration law enacted two years ago.

SB 160 eases off on some of the paperwork requirements for business license renewals, but could also make life more difficult for immigrant residents – among other things, they would no longer be able to use foreign passports as an approved form of identification.

“While our nation is poised to finally address and move forward on bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform, Georgia legislators amended SB 160 and burdened Georgia with more ill-conceived, anti-immigrant initiatives,” said Jerry Gonzalez of GALEO (the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials).

“The original legislation was to simplify a complicated and bureaucratic mess on business and professional licenses,” Gonzalez said, adding that lawmakers “insisted on loading up the legislation with extremist anti-immigrant policies.”

The Asian American Legal Advocacy Center (AALAC) is also urging a veto, contending that SB 160 “aims to block undocumented immigrants from getting state driver’s licenses, grants, public housing and retirement benefits.”

“While implementation of this bill, if passed, might not be as harsh on undocumented immigrants as intended, we need to continue public pressure and send a clear message that Georgians are done with backward-thinking, immigrant-bashing policies,” AALAC officials said.

Deal will be hearing many variations on these messages as he works his way through the bills that are placed before him.

But on the gun issue . . .

One bill that Deal won’t be pressured to sign is SB 101, the gun carry bill that did not get a final vote before the legislative session adjourned.

Deal is considered to be one of the major reasons the bill did not pass. He was concerned about a provision in the bill to allow guns to be carried on college campuses and maintained pressure on legislators to water down that section of SB 101.

The urgency of the campus carry provision was also conveyed via back channels late in the session to House Speaker David Ralston.

Ralston was told by University System contacts that passage of a campus carry provision would harm future efforts to recruit professors – academics would not be willing to teach or conduct research at colleges where guns were in abundance.

What Martha’s up to

Gainesville talk show host Martha Zoller announced Wednesday she will launch a new political website, ZPolitics, on April 8.

“We created this online hub to satisfy the desire for relevant news, smart political commentary, and sharp analysis from Georgia’s top pollsters, strategists, and grassroots activists,” Zoller said in a news release.

The new site will include news reports from “trusted media outlets,” as well as commentary from state and federal lawmakers, political consultants, business people and activists activists, Zoller said.

The editorial lineup contemplated by Zoller, a conservative Republican who ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year, sounds very similar to the information already available to conservatives on the well-established Peach Pundit website, which was founded by another talk show host, Erick Erickson, and is currently guided by Charlie Harper.

State Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville), one of the principals at Peach Pundit, posted this item about Zoller’s initiative:

Over the last eight years we’ve seen political websites come and go. Some were left-leaning, some were tilted to the right, many attempted to occupy the place in the world which we now occupy. Some were vocal about their goal of knocking us off the top of the hill. We’ve always taken the attitude that the world is a big place, certainly big enough for Peach Pundit and anyone else with a website. We realize our readers and commenters don’t spend every waking moment hitting refresh though some of you do, and you know who you are. . . . We welcome Martha to the world of political websites and wish her success.

Or to put it another way: Game on!

Happy anniversary

Georgia’s magistrate court system, which was established as part of the new state constitution adopted in 1983, is observing its 30th anniversary as an important part of the state’s judicial branch.

Back on July 1, 1983, people who had been working as justices of the peace, small claims judges, magistrates, and the judge of the County Court of Echols County were re-classified as magistrate judges. They have been so ever since.

Magistrate judges, who serve at the entry point to the criminal justice system, determine whether arrest warrants and search warrants should be issued, set bonds, hold probable cause hearings, and try certain kinds of misdemeanor offenses.

The Council of Magistrate Court Judges plans to host a reception celebrating the anniversary of the court system during its spring education seminar and annual meeting.

Personnel notes

Kevin Brown, the chief executive officer of Seattle-based Swedish Health Services, has been named the new CEO of Atlanta’s Piedmont Healthcare. Brown replaces Tim Stack, who died last summer after serving as Piedmont’s CEO for more than 10 years.

© 2013 by The Georgia Report


Tags: gun carry , immigration , magistrate court system , Martha Zoller , Nathan Deal , Piedmont Healthcare , political websites