Political Notes — The state Senate prepares to enter the 21st century

[private]The Georgia Senate seems finally willing to do something their colleagues in the House of Representatives have been doing for more than a decade: have their committee meetings video-streamed so that the public can watch them online.

The House took this step back in 2005, shortly after Republicans gained majority control of the lower chamber.  Under the new speaker, Glenn Richardson, the House installed video equipment in committee rooms and started streaming meetings in the 2006 session.

The Senate did not take that step, and that refusal started causing trouble for them this session.  Several people, including Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), used streaming apps such as Periscope to shoot video of Rules Committee meetings and were told to move to the back of the room of face the threat of ejection.

Obviously, the optics of state troopers manhandling persons for doing something that was not only legal but was already being done in the House would not be very flattering.

The Senate now appears to be on the path to redemption by putting $485,000 in the state budget to purchase equipment for their own video streaming. That amount needs to survive budget negotiations and the governor’s veto pen to take effect.

Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Buford) was a member of the Senate in 2006 when the upper chamber decided not to follow the House example on video-streaming committee meetings. What was the thinking of senators at that time, he was asked?

After pointing out that he was not a member of the leadership at that time, Shafer said the Senate was influenced by the cost of wiring committee rooms to video-stream meetings.

“There’s a significant capital cost and significant operating cost involved,” Shafer said. “The House has a larger budget for this than the Senate.”

“The House sold bonds last year to pay for their upgrade — we prefer to pay cash,” Shafer said. “We’ve always paid for ours out of lapsed funds. We’ve tried to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars and have been reluctant to ask for more funding.”

In light of recent events, however, “I think we saw a genuine public call for us to make this investment in tax dollars,” he acknowledged.

More wild stuff in the 6th District

The special election in the 6th Congressional District is getting weirder than ever.

The latest weirdness comes from the campaign of Republican candidate Amy Kremer, whose entire campaign staff up and quit on her for the usual reason: they weren’t getting paid.

Will Kremer of georgiapol.com, who claims not to be related to Amy Kremer, was the first to post this statement from the former campaign manager:

The entire campaign staff of GA 6th District Congressional candidate and former Tea Party Express CEO Amy Kremer has resigned over Kremer’s inability to raise funds and failure to pay her staff and operating bills, including campaign vendors.

Ms. Kremer had only raised $2,500 through the first month despite placing 4th among Republican candidates in a recent poll.

This is yet another setback for Ms. Kremer whose previous venture, Women Vote Trump Pac, raised only $28,000 of its $30 million goal.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Brian Kemp sends the reminder that Monday is the deadline for registering in time to be eligible to vote in the April 18 election.

More stuff for the Forestry Commission

Gov. Nathan Deal says the State Forestry Commission will be getting an extra $3.178 million in the current state budget for new fire prevention aircraft and technology upgrades. The commission will use the money to purchase five aircraft, 17 Garmin GPS systems, and 18 narrowband radios.

“The State Forestry Commission’s Air Operations Unit is responsible for scanning our entire state to detect wildfires and identify other possible threats,” said Deal. “As we continue to deal with drought conditions, it’s critical we provide air operations with the necessary tools to do their jobs and do them well.”

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: 6th Congressional District election , David Shafer , Georgia Senate , State Forestry Commission , video-stream committee meetings