Political Notes — Gurtler isn’t the only lawmaker to feel ‘threatened’

[private]Rep. Matt Gurtler (R-Tiger) has become the latest lawmaker to inherit the title of “Dr. No” among his colleagues.

He’s usually the only House member to vote no on routine items like the amended state budget, citing some deeply held conservative belief that it’s wrong to vote for any kind of government spending or regulation.

Gurtler thus has picked up the torch formerly carried by such legislators as the late Bobby Franklin and Charles Gregory.

But there’s a price to be paid for being contrary — you tend to annoy the people in power and they then cut off money to your district.

Last year, for example, Columbus State University lost $8 million in the state budget and the National Infantry Museum lost nearly$2 million in additional funding after Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) got sideways with Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston.

Gurtler, who’s in his first year in the House, received the warning during a Jan. 31 breakfast for legislators at the governor’s mansion.

According to Gurtler, he was told by Deal’s chief of staff, Chris Riley, that if he continued to vote against the governor’s bills, “I will cut all funding to your district.”

“I am appalled by Mr. Riley’s actions of intimidation and bullying tactics of an elected official,” Gurtler said. “His actions were wrong and unethical, and this type of behavior goes against our system of separation of powers.”

The governor’s office did not respond to questions about the exchange between Riley and Gurtler, but the wording certainly sounds plausible. Riley did tell the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “If he felt threatened by what I asked him and my defense of the governor’s position, we probably have bigger issues to address than separation of powers.”

After the account of Gurtler’s confrontation with Riley hit the media on Tuesday, the amended state budget came back to the House for one final vote before going to the governor. The House voted 171-1 to approve it — the only no vote came from Gurtler.

Let the budget-cutting begin.

‘Encouraged’ by water ruling

Gov. Nathan Deal said he is “encouraged” by a court ruling that went against the state of Florida by a special master appointed by the Supreme Court.

“We are incredibly pleased with the special master’s recommendation to the Supreme Court of the U.S.” said Deal.

“Georgia remains committed to the conservation efforts that make us amicable stewards of our water,” Deal added. “We are encouraged by this outcome which puts us closer to finding a resolution to a decades-long dispute over the use and management of the waters of the basin.”

FEMA grants assistance to 10 counties

Deal said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved more 10 counties affected by the severe weather on January 21 and 22 for public assistance.

The counties are Appling, Berrien, Brantley, Bulloch, Echols, Lowndes, Randolph, Tattnall, Upson, and Ware.

“I am thankful for the immediate attention we have received and for the dedication and hard work of everyone involved as we work together to rebuild and recuperate these local communities,” Deal said.

Technical College System will manage veterans center

A veterans service center that had jointly administered by Georgia’s two post-secondary education systems will become the sole responsibility of the Technical College System.

The University System said Tuesday it will hand off administration of the Georgia Veterans Career Transition Resource Center (VECTR) to Central Georgia Technical College, which had operated the facility in conjunction with Middle Georgia State University.

Central Georgia Technical College will take over operations at VECTR effective July 1, while Middle Georgia State’s Office of Veteran and Military Services will continue to assist veterans through programs and services offered on its five campuses.

Albers is Atlanta-Fulton chairman

Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) has been elected to serve as chairman of the Atlanta-Fulton County legislative delegation for the current legislative session.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Chris Riley , FEMA , John Albers , Matt Gurtler , Nathan Deal , Technical College System , water wars