Political Notes – Deal may be sending a signal on rideshare legislation

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When Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) held study committee hearings this week on whether Georgia should regulate ridesharing firms, there was an interesting guest sitting next to him in the House committee room: Lynne Riley.

Riley was appointed to this study committee several months ago and sat in on the hearings as if she were still a member of the Georgia House of Representatives – but she’s not.

Riley resigned from the House prior to Thanksgiving so that a special election could be called to replace her when she takes her new job in January as state revenue commissioner.

The fact that she was sitting alongside legislators who were sympathetic to the idea of regulation was probably a signal that her new boss, Gov. Nathan Deal, is also OK with putting some restrictions on companies like Uber and Lyft.

Certainly, if the governor opposed the regulation of these ridesharing services, it’s not likely he would have allowed one of his key department heads to be sitting there with Powell, Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta), Rep. Dale Rutledge (R-McDonough), and Rep. Emory Dunahoo (R-Gainesville).

The shape of legislation that emerges from the study committee is also something that could have a direct impact on Riley in her new job.

The state revenue department currently collects sales taxes from regulated taxi and limousine companies, but unregulated ridesharing firms apparently don’t remit those taxes. Witnesses for the taxi and limousine companies complained they were at a 7 to 8 percent price disadvantage because of this.

Gingrey’s papers

Outgoing U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey of the 11th Congressional District is donating the official papers he compiled during 12 years in Congress to Kennesaw State University.

As reported by the student newspaper, The Sentinel:

Gingrey’s donated records include thousands of documents covering his positions on various national issues and will be open to public research in KSU’s Department of Museums, Archives and Rare Books.

“Kennesaw State is honored to be the recipient of Rep. Gingrey’s official papers, and we take great pride in knowing that we have been entrusted with this important part of our state’s and the nation’s historical record,” Papp said in a press release.

Among these documents are records of Gingrey’s involvement in congressional committees such as the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Administration Committee, Armed Services Committee, Rules Committee, the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Science and Technology Committee, according to KSU’s press release.

The article did not report whether Gingrey’s trove of papers will include the reproval letter that the House Ethics Committee issued recently after finding that Gingrey violated ethics rules when he improperly took official action on behalf of the Bank of Ellijay, where he had “substantial financial interests.”

Juvenile Justice treatment unit

The state Department of Juvenile Justice will soon be opening an intensive treatment unit at the former Bill Ireland facility in Milledgeville. There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, state Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson) and state Rep. Rusty Kidd (I-Milledgeville).

The 30-bed youth detention center was built to house male offenders from other DJJ facilities who need professional staffing for counseling and treatment purposes.

Country music inaugural gala

Gov. Nathan Deal’s inaugural team announced this week that the governor’s inaugural gala will be held Jan. 15 at the Arena at Gwinnett Center, featuring such homegrown musical talents as Alan Jackson, the Brody Johnson Band, and the due Banks and Shane.

Mark your calendars

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Eggs & Issues Breakfast on Jan. 13 at the Georgia World Congress Center. The featured speakers will be U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, Deal, Cagle, and House Speaker David Ralston.

Honoring Wyc Orr

Common Cause Georgia will institute a yearly award that honors the late Gainesville attorney Wyc Orr, a former legislator who was a member of the organization’s board of Directors.

The “Wyc Orr Legal Advocacy Democracy Award” will be presented yearly to a member of the Georgia Bar or a citizen who uses the legal system in a way that furthers the cause of “ethical, honest, open and fair government.”

Orr, who died last May from complications with cancer, was a member of the Georgia House of Representatives and a former law partner of Gov. Nathan Deal. He stayed actively involved in the cause of government ethics through his work with Common Cause Georgia.

Rest in peace

Two well-known Georgia political figures recently passed away: former state school superintendent Jack Nix and A. C. “Bob” Guhl, a DeKalb County commissioner who later served several terms in the Georgia Senate.

Nix, an agriculture teacher in the Habersham and Banks County school systems before serving as Banks County’s school superintendent, was the state superintendent from 1966 until his retirement in 1977. He died Nov. 28 at the age of 93.

Guhl, a businessman who got into politics when he was first elected to the DeKalb County Commission in 1968, also served a term as county commission chairman from 1973-76. He is still the only Republican to hold the top elected position in DeKalb (the county commission chairman in those days was the equivalent of today’s CEO).

Guhl left politics for a while after losing his DeKalb reelection bid in 1976, but he won a state Senate seat in a 1993 special election and stayed in the upper chamber for nearly a decade before deciding not to run again in 2002. He died Nov. 30 at the age of 86.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Alan Powell , Bob Guhl , Common Cause Georgia , Georgia Chamber , Jack Nix , Juvenile Justice , kennesaw state , Lynne Riley , Nathan Deal , Phil Gingrey , rideshare services , Wyc Orr