Political Notes — Another year, another congressional fight over water rights

[private]Every year, another arcane fight seems to erupt between Georgia and Alabama senators over the language of appropriations bills and how they affect the long-running water dispute between the two states (and Florida).

Right on schedule, Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue are tussling with Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby over the current wording of a bill that affects the funding for commerce, justice, and science agencies in the federal government.

Shelby put verbiage in the measure that calls for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to produce a study on water contracts. Georgia’s senators claim that this could produce evidence that would damage Georgia’s case in the ongoing federal litigation involving water allocation.

Isakson and Perdue have introduced amendments to try to have the offending text removed from the bill (which is what happened last year under similar circumstances).

“We are strongly opposed to the language included in the underlying bill that politicizes an issue that should be resolved between Georgia, Florida and Alabama, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the courts,” Isakson said.

“This is absolutely the wrong way to resolve disputes among our states, and Georgia has been working in good faith for years to resolve these disputes,” Isakson added.

“Both Alabama and Florida have consistently lost in court because their claims have been found to be baseless,” Perdue contended. “Now, because of unfavorable court rulings, we are seeing a senator attempt to tip the scales in this water dispute by short-circuiting that litigation through the appropriations process. That’s just not appropriate.”

While we wait to see if Shelby’s language is deleted from the appropriations bill, lawyers for Georgia and Florida are headed toward a federal trial in Washington D.C. in October or November over the consumption of water from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers.

Chamber picks its “Legislators of the Year’

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce has selected two veteran lawmakers for its “Legislator of the Year” awards:  the chairmen of the Rules Committees in the respective chambers, Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) and Rep. John Meadows (R-Calhoun).

Mullis was honored “for being a champion for the business community in voting, actions as well as behind the scenes. He consistently works to make Georgia a great place to do business,” the chamber said in its announcement.

Meadows was described as someone who is “always willing to listen to the chamber’s viewpoint on an issue and never fails to provide candid and sage feedback” by Chamber Board Chairman Hank Linginfelter of AGL Resources.

Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta) was named “Rookie of the Year” for her committee vote against an E-discovery bill during this year’s session. “Representative Beskin was the only legislator willing to stand up in support of the business community on a tough vote,” the Chamber said.

The chamber was evidently referring to HB 1017, which got out of committee but did not receive a House vote.  The bill would have formalized the process for discovery of electronically stored information in civil cases.

Thompson not serving after all

Rick Thompson, who was recently appointed to the state ethics commission by Gov. Nathan Deal, has decided not to accept the appointment, citing concerns that were raised about his role with his private company that provides campaign disclosure services to candidates regulated by the commission.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Beth Beskin , David Perdue , Georgia Chamber awards , Jeff Mullis , John Meadows , Johnny Isakson , Rick Thompson , water wars