Political Notes – Lawmaker wants to see 8-year term limits

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State Rep. Michael Caldwell (R-Woodstock) will be the latest legislator to make the attempt to impose term limits on Georgia’s lawmakers when the next session convenes in January.

Caldwell has pre-filed a constitutional amendment (HR 2) that would require House members to step down for at least one term after they’ve served four consecutive terms in the Legislature (including any partial terms), with a similar requirement for state senators.

The amendment would go on the election ballot in 2016 and if passed by the voters would apply to terms that begin on or after Jan. 1, 2017.

Caldwell’s measure may stir up some discussion of the issue but is not likely to pass – it would require two-thirds support in both chambers.

Even though there are no term limits for members of the General Assembly, there is already a steady turnover of the membership through the normal means of attrition.

Legislators frequently step down voluntarily to run either for Congress (Ed Lindsey, Barry Loudermilk, Donna Sheldon, Jim Whitehead) or for some other office (Hardie Davis, Jason Carter, Seth Harp, Tom Knox, Brian Kemp, Georganna Sinkfield, Preston Smith, Rob Teilhet).

Lawmakers will often quit to accept a state job (Jim Butterworth, Tim Bearden, Mitch Seabaugh, Lynne Riley, Michael Harden, Jay Neal). They may also fall prey to challenges within their own party primary (Don Balfour, Steve Thompson, Jack Murphy, Willie Talton, Johnny Grant, Charlice Byrd) or to the changing political orientation of their districts (Rick Crawford, Charlie Jenkins, Barbara Massey Reese).

Some legislators will retire for various reasons (Mickey Channell, Chuck Sims) and some will pass away in the middle of their term (Calvin Hill, Quincy Murphy).

One way or another, there are several alternative methods by which legislative terms are already limited.

Another round of beer law reform talk

What would be a more appropriate venue for discussing proposals to change Georgia’s laws regulating craft brewers than a craft brewery?

The Red Clay Democrats are hosting a panel discussion of the state’s beer laws at 7 p.m., Dec. 15, at Orpheus Brewing, an artisanal brewery that overlooks Atlanta’s Beltline on Dutch Valley Place.

The panel of experts includes Austin L. Ray, the editor of Georgia Brewsletter, Joel Iverson, the vice president of the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, and attorney Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, who as a legislator secured passage of a bill that allows the sale of beers with higher alcohol contents.

Ocmulgee judgeship candidates

The Judicial Nominating Commission has sent the names of four attorneys to Gov. Nathan Deal to consider for filling two Superior Court vacancies in the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit (Baldwin, Greene, Hancock, Jasper, Jones, Morgan, Putnam and Wilkinson counties).

Deal must replace Hulane E. George, who resigned from the bench, and the late James J. Cline.

The list of names includes: Senior District Attorney Dawn M. Baskin; Alison T. Burleson, a Georgia State adjunct law professor and an assistant district attorney; District Attorney Fredric D. Bright; and Brenda Holbert Trammell, a Madison attorney.

Personnel notes

Marshall Guest has stepped down as the press secretary for House Speaker David Ralston to start a new job as vice president of business climate for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

“When I walked into the State Capitol ten years ago fresh out of UGA to interview for a position as an aide, I had no idea that this place called the ‘Gold Dome’ would have such a lasting and meaningful impact on my life,” said Guest, who also worked for former Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson.

“I want to thank the leaders who gave me the chance to serve the people of Georgia on their behalves, the reporters who put up with me, the staff who worked alongside me, my friends who stayed in touch with me even through the trying times of a legislative session, the people in the halls who tolerated me and especially David Ralston for his support, confidence and friendship,” Guest said.

Another familiar figure leaving the capitol is Jeanne Bonner, who had reported on legislative matters since 2011 for the radio side of Georgia Public Broadcasting. Bonner has departed GPB to work on a master of fine arts degree from Vermont’s Bennington College.

Columbus attorney Jim Butler of Butler Wooten Cheeley & Peak has been given the first Lifetime Achievement Award from The Fulton County Daily Report and American Law Media.

“As a master of his craft in the courtroom, Butler has been the center of attention often in the more than 170 jury trials that he has tried to verdict. With his diligent preparation, booming oratorical style and command of an audience, Butler has won four verdicts over $100 million, 10 verdicts over $10 million, plus another 10 verdicts more than $1 million,” said the Daily Report.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: craft breweries , Jeanne Bonner , Jim Butler , Marshall Guest , Michael Caldwell , Nathan Deal , term limits