Political Notes — Deal announces floor leaders for 2017

[private]Gov. Nathan Deal made some additions to his team of legislative floor leaders for the new session.

In the House, Reps. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) and Trey Rhodes (R-Greensboro) will work with Rep. Terry Rogers (R-Clarkesville) to help shepherd the governor’s legislation to passage.

Efstration and Rhodes are relative newcomers to the House, with Efstration first elected in a 2013 special election and Rhodes elected in a 2015 special election. Efstration, a former prosecuting attorney, has also been appointed by Deal to the Judicial Nominating Commission and the Criminal Justice Reform Council.

In the Senate, Deal’s current floor leader, Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), will be joined by Sens. P. K. Martin IV (R-Lawrenceville) and Larry Walker III (R-Kathleen).

Martin, an insurance agent, was first elected in 2014 when he ousted veteran Sen. Don Balfour in the Republican primary. Walker won a special election in December 2015 to replace Ross Tolleson in the Senate.

Walker is the son of Larry Walker, a member of the House for 32 years and currently a member of the Board of Regents.

Sending a signal on campus carry

House Speaker David Ralston has already made public comments to the effect that he’s in favor of passing another campus carry bill this year since last year’s version was vetoed by Gov. Deal.

The speaker sent an even stronger signal on campus carry with the appointment of new committee chairmen for this session:  Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) will replace the retired Carl Rogers as chairman of the Higher Education Committee.

Jasperse was the chief sponsor of the campus carry bill that passed last session before falling victim to the governor’s veto pen. He is expected to bring the bill back this session.

Some of the strongest opposition to the campus carry bill came from University System Chancellor Hank Huckaby and the Board of Regents, who didn’t think it was a good idea for binge-drinking college students to be allowed to pack heat on campus.

Huckaby has since retired, but new Chancellor Steve Wrigley and the Regents now are put in an awkward position. If they oppose the new campus carry bill, they know that legislation affecting the University System will pass through a committee chaired by the bill’s sponsor.

Jasperse thus has enormous leverage over the University System, because he can wreak havoc with their legislation if they dare to oppose his campus carry bill.

Which probably is exactly what Ralston intended in making the appointment.

Sessions and the Southern Co.

Nobody would be happier to see Jeff Sessions be confirmed as the new U.S. attorney general than the executives at Southern Co., the holding company for Georgia Power, Atlanta Gas Light, and other utilities.

Jennifer Dlouhy explains it all at Bloomberg News:

The $47.8 billion electric utility has a long history with Sessions and is his single biggest corporate contributor, according to financial disclosures filed with the federal government and analyzed by the not-for-profit Center for Responsive Politics. Southern political action committees and employees have funneled $174,765 to Sessions’ political campaigns since the Alabama native entered the Senate in 1997.

Alabama Power is one of the largest Southern Co. subsidiaries.

“The ties between Sessions and Southern Co. run as deep as the darkest coal mine,” said Jamie Henn, a co-founder of the climate activist group 350.org. “There’s never been such a strident advocate for the fossil fuel industry nominated for the role of attorney general.” . . .

Atlanta-based Southern, which has 3 million residential customers, is directly affected by a suite of Obama-era environmental regulations targeting coal-fired power. Coal makes up about a third of its electric generation, down from about 70 percent in 2008. Its Kemper clean-coal plant under construction in Mississippi is the target of a Securities and Exchange Commission probe. Energy companies also face scrutiny over how well they disclose financial risks tied to climate change.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: campus carry , David Ralston , floor leaders , Jeff Sessions , Nathan Deal , Rick Jasperse , Southern Co.