Ready, Fire, Aim

The Georgia General Assembly is back in session. We are required to be here for 40 days – like Noah in a cramped space full of animals or Jesus in the desert being tempted by the Devil. Whoever decided on 40 days based it on scripture. Day 1 is usually ceremonial and non-controversial. Not today!

The House started off just where we left off last year and voted to override 12 of Governor Perdue’s 2007 session vetoes. Georgia has only overridden vetoes once before in history – 34 years ago – and it was Governor Jimmy Carter so nobody cared. Our Founding Fathers created a delicate balance of power that allows a veto and also permits a supermajority of the legislature to decide that the Governor is “wrong”. Sometimes the Governor is right and the bills have mistakes or are more costly than the legislature assumed. Sometimes the legislature (with a lot of backbone) votes for popular bills that they know are bad bills, but hopes the Governor vetoes them. Sometimes, the legislature is right and an override is appropriate.

Georgia’s Constitution says that the Senate must “immediately consider” the actions of the House today. Lawyers and parliamentary manuals agree that “consider” doesn’t mean “vote”. So the Senate assigned all 12 bills to the Senate Rules Committee where we can carefully review each bill along with the Governor’s veto message. We will not act in anger or emotion. The Senate will deliberate carefully and hopefully make wise decisions. We want to solve problems with traffic, water, and health care. We do not want to pick at old scabs without good cause. The Speaker claims the Senate “shirked” its responsibilities today. I say we did exactly what we were sent here to do – to carefully and thoughtfully decide which actions benefit the people of Georgia.

32 comments

  1. rugby_fan says:

    “We are required to be here for 40 days – like Noah in a cramped space full of animals or Jesus in the desert being tempted by the Devil”

    Wow, great job comparing yourself to Jesus.

    You are now share company with Terrell Owens.

    Well done.

  2. Jason Pye says:

    So the Senate assigned all 12 bills to the Senate Rules Committee where we can carefully review each bill along with the Governor’s veto message.

    These bills were already considered and passed overwhelmingly by both houses of the legislature.

  3. drjay says:

    thank you for taking the time to explain the senate position on the subject and for all the good work you do in and out of atl…i am confident the senate will act appropriately

  4. bowersville says:

    The Senate will not deliberate carefully and will not make wise decisions because the question of the veto override will never come out of the rules committee.

    If there is any claim of deliberating carefully and making wise decisions, please give the rules chairman credit for providing cover.

  5. Bill Simon says:

    HOW could this possibly be???

    Senator Johnson Sez: …”and the bills have mistakes or are more costly than the legislature assumed.”

    NO WAY!

    In your many years as Pro Tem, you have demonstrated more times than I can remember (in fact, I wish I had the time to go into AJC Stacks to retrieve your many quotes) that YOU and the “Senate” are never wrong on anything! (It’s those damn activist judges or some other scapegoat, but you can never be wrong.)

    In fact, between you and Senator Balfour, I cannot figure out which of you has displayed more arrogance and pomposity over the years. In your minds, you could NEVER be wrong on anything you deliberated on.

    But now…we have this admission by you that (gasp!) the bills your chamber passed last year could possible have been “mistakes.”

    No, Senator Johnson…spare us the sham and whitewash, will you? The reason why you are going to hold back on overriding vetoes is because you, Balfour, and Lt. Governor Cagle have effectively been politically emasculated by the Governor.

    In this state, we now know who the “Daddy” is of the Georgia State Senate: Governor Perdue.

    Here’s some advice, Senator Johnson: Start eating lots of bananas, peanuts, oranges, grapefruits, and spinach. All of these foods contain large amounts of potassium which can counteract all that salt Governor Perdue has been dumping into the gruel you guys have been slurping-up for the past 9 months.

    You three had better figure out a way to grow your own gonads back because I doubt the Governor is going to let you have the ones he holds in a glass jar in his office.

  6. Lorie says:

    Senator, I’m so sorry for your 40 day “requirement”. Would you like to trade? Mine is 24/7/365 w/ a special needs child for UNKNOWN years with private insurance company that pays $0 dollars for his diagnosis and after 3 years, finally getting him on Medicaid pays the minimal w/ jumping through flaming hoops, a school system where I had to buy a copy of “Autism for Dummies” just for them to get the picture of what they are dealing with. I had to give up my job to talk on the phone w/ politicians wanting my vote but ignoring my needs, school systems who “can’t” give my child what he needs due to money, the “waiver” doesn’t count because there are no schools that are appropriate for my son, and many, many, many agencies w/ employees who don’t know their own policies and jobs. I have spent countless hours educating my public officials and their employees on the Federal Regs.

    I know the Katie Beckett waiver is a blessing so that my son can get the therapies he needs. I don’t use it for any ofhis insurance covered services and gladly pay the copays and deductibles that I have to. I just want my son to have a chance in life to be independent and not a burden for anyone else.

    So when you think about not OVERRIDING 549, please think of all the parents who are struggling to give their children a chance in life. These are already defined by the Federal Regulations. These aren’t new ideas. Other states have had class actions to compel them to comply w/ the minimum requirements. The states have all lost. And BTW, the reasoning Gov. Perdue gave for vetoing this bill was the biggest load of crap I’ve ever read. The reasoning had no link re: therapies so please actually read the Fed Reg he is relating to.

  7. Harry says:

    Could there be the outside possibility that Sens. John, Balfour et al might, might just give the legislation a thoughtful re-hearing and then do what they truly believe to be the right thing? They have the benefit of hindsight after all…might as well take advantage of it.

    Some of you need to give it a rest, at least those of you who are Republicans. If you’re Democrats, then go for the gusto. Let’s see.

  8. Rick Day says:

    Woah. I actually feel sorry for the Good Senator ™ !

    However,

    the question begs….WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW??

    OK. OK I’ll stop flinging fetuses and start contributing more. Soon. I promise!

  9. cheapseats says:

    This is so much fun I can’t believe what a gift the Boyz in Red are giving us! It’s the political equivalent of winning the lottery!

    Richardson has overstepped himself 100 fold by thinking that he was ready to play in the same league as Johnson, Balfour, and Cagle. I got news for you guys – the Goobernator ain’t even in this fight. Nobody up there gives a rodent’s rectum about what Sonny wants or thinks – if they ever did. Now, they really have no reason to even keep him in the loop.

    This is a straight fight between Glenn’s children and an established and well-armed bunch of veteran thugs.

    Keep it coming, boyz! I’m loving it!

  10. Bill Simon says:

    Harry,

    Again, how could that be that this year would be the FIRST time that could have happened?

    This is the 3rd Session the GOP has been in charge of the state senate and this is the first time they’re going to admit they could have made a mistake?

    This is purely a political matter and this guys have demonstrated that they are nothing more than empty suits full of hot air and nothing much else.

  11. RiverRat says:

    Georgia has only overridden vetoes once before in history – 34 years ago – and it was Governor Jimmy Carter so nobody cared.

    I know that today’s GOP base has no love for President Carter, and I would have expected such a comment from many folks on this site. But I think it demeans you as an elected official, Sen. Johnson, when you belittle a man who has given a lot to this state and this country. Certainly, you who have served in positions of leadership in this state should at least respect the man’s dedication and service to his country. I think you should be embarrassed. I’ve spent some time down at the Capitol and on the campaign trail, and I always had marked you as a respectful, intelligent leader, who I always respected even when I disagreed with you. You’ve disappointed me. Naturally, this shouldn’t mean much coming from an anonymous blog commenter. But I felt it needed to be said.

  12. SkylerA says:

    They sure do a lot down in Atlanta that does NOT “benefit the people of Georgia”.

    and I agree with the previous commentator… Senator, why would you belittle such a man of good character, and of humanitarianism?

  13. Bill Simon says:

    Because Senator Johnson can do nothing BUT posture himself politically on ANY issue.

    Again, he is nothing but an empty suit.

    Any time in the future when you hear a blast from Johnson giving his opinion on anything, you will know that is nothing but the sound of a mouse fart amplified 100 times.

  14. gatormathis says:

    cheapseats had it right in that to be the man you gotta beat the man.

    the Senate, which Sonny is a collegue of, has the high ground.

    they done had a year to go about checking on how property tax compares to taxing every little thing you touch and do.

    i got a buddy in Denmark who can tell you about sales taxes. he has some helluva percentages he can quote you.

    taxes will never go down, and the only way you can slow them down is to never even crack the window to let one in………………

    go sonny, go senate, go georgia!

  15. Harry says:

    Bill,

    Just between us friends (and I trust we are), what is your problem with Sen. Johnson? I mean, you’re a Republican, I’m a Republican, and Sen. Johnson is a Republican. Did he do something to upset you? Doesn’t the Senate have the prerogative to re-visit their vote last year, without having to be second-guessed by you as well as every partisan Dem in Georgia? I’m not familiar with the nuances of all this, and they may well be correct to vote to override, but in an election year aren’t you sort of giving aid and comfort to the other side by not giving our boys the benefit of the doubt?

  16. GOP Girl says:

    Lorie,

    I am sorry for your strife and I greatly empathize with your situation. Having chaired a Board of Directions of a special needs school in south Georgia, I have much compassion for your lot in life and special needs funding is something that is near and dear to my heart.

    Having said that, I have found no other Ga statesman moreso than Sen. Johnson that went to bat with the House and Senate on our behalf. I personally met with Sen. Johnson and his staff and became a great thorn in their side until my group was successful in accomplishing our goals. It took time and effort, but no one ever said government was efficient.

    Shalom to you and your family and good luck to you in your quest for answers. Please contact me if I can help you in any way.

  17. Bill Simon says:

    Harry,

    I realize that over the years you’ve bought into the belief that “everything the AJC prints is a lie”, but the fact is that they have printed a LOT of Eric Johnsons’s assertions of his view of the world. And, they’ve done so as a result of most of his press releases that he’s sent out when he’s proclaimed his worldly view of things.

    Most of those statements have been nothing but the sound of Johnson wanting people to make sure they know HE thinks he’s important to the politcal world.

    As I said before, between Johnson and Balfour, it is a tough choice as to WHO is the most bombastic, arrogant twit in the senate.

    If these two are the “best” this state has to offer in the way of legislative leaders, then people should stop trying to “fix” our education system. Because it is clear that when you are led by morons you cannot help but produce a majority of morons.

  18. rightofcenter says:

    Bill Simon,
    I find it quite humorous that you would criticize someone else for being arrogant and being full of hot air. Pot, meet kettle. I always read your missives both here and the “no sugar added” variety for pure entertainment sake, mostly because of your incredible ego (although I haven’t been able to find out anything you’ve ever done to warrant such an ego). I often wonder if you are man enough to go face to face with some of your victims and spew your personal vitriol, or if you only do it from the safe comfort of your keyboard?

    I do appreciate your Georgia Tech allegiance, however, so that just proves that everyone has some positive characteristics.

  19. Inside_Man says:

    I mean, all the other bills aside, HB 549 needs to pass. Anything that can make life a little easier for people whose kids qualify for Katie Beckett is a blessing. I do agree with the comment above that these will probably never leave Senate rules. I wonder if they will at least vote on them in Senate Rules though, to at least officially signal to the Governor that we have a government of TWO BRANCHES: House and Executive.

  20. drjay says:

    this does seem less about the guv than it does the house v. the senate–having said that vetoes do not occur in a vacuum–there is some sort of statement or comment accompanying them–no?? it is not crazy talk to at least see what was said and assess it validity — i would think…and also for the senate to tell the speaker he is not the boss of them

  21. Bill Simon says:

    RightofCenter,

    The difference between Johnson/Balfour and myself is I’m not setting myself out to represent anyone else’s opinion, nor am I charged with the responsibility OF representing anyone in a political capacity.

  22. whitemalevoters says:

    We fully support Senator Johnson. He always looks out for the well being of white male voters everywhere! Keep up the good work!

    Don’t listen to Bile Slimon, Eric. You do a GREAT job looking out for white angl0-saxon protestant males!

  23. SAngelicMoore says:

    With all due respect for our Speaker and the entire House, I feel obligated to respond to the bashing that is occurring toward Senator Johnson and the Senate. As one who has studied our Legislative Branch for a number of years, I believe that sending the overrides to the Rules Committee was the appropriate step. It seems to me that instead of making haste to eliminate the tension (which I am sure the Senate knew would occur by their action) between the House and Senate that heed has been continuously taken. I won’t go into detail, but do you not recall the days when we had, for the most part, one conglomerated body representing us in which many agendas where pushed through without consideration? I am glad to find that even though our branches are governed by one Party that we have leadership who has the wherewithal to pay heed to the implications of their actions and the fortitude to admit that they may have been wrong.

    Honestly, I don’t believe that the citizens of Georgia nor the House will allow the override considerations to merely sit in the Senate Rules Committee nor do I believe that the Senate will either.

    And, although we often may not agree, I do consider Bill a friend. So, RightofCenter, I do know that Bill is a well educated and learned man (he’s a Techie) who does not have an “incredible ego” yet often has very strong opinions that he does not sugarcoat. And, I also know that he does not hide in the “safe comfort of [his] keyboard”. If you have been active or about in the Republican Party in the lets say the past decade then you would know that Bill often comes “face to face with some of [his] victims” and that they, most times than not, handle his opinions in the same manner that he does when they come face to face—as a gentleman.

  24. Tea Party says:

    Good gracious, this thread can easily do without the assaulting rhetoric and foulmouthedry of certain bloggers.

    Social media has yet to come of age.

  25. GO GET EM LORIE.

    EJ Quote:”We want to solve problems with traffic, water, and health care.”

    Yea, right.

    Only a small fraction of 2007 donors gleaned from:
    http://www.ethics.ga.gov/Reports/Campaign/Campaign_ByName.aspx

    AFLAC: $2,000
    AIG Centennial Insurance Company $500
    Aetna $1,000
    American Insurance Assoc PAC $2,000
    Humana $500
    Marsh Insurance $1,000
    Glass Compton & Stevens $250
    HRH of Savannah $700
    Geico $1,000
    Independent Insurance Agents of GA, $2,000
    State Farm Agents PAC $2,000

    And just for fun:

    TitleMax Management $3,000 (3 separate entries)
    Anheuser-Busch Cos., Inc.$1,000
    Philip Morris USA, Inc. $1,500

    Committee Membership
    Appropriations
    Assignments
    Ethics
    Finance
    Joint Legislative Ethics – Chairman
    Natural Resources and the Environment – Ex-Officio
    Regulated Industries and Utilities – Vice Chairman
    Rules

    Highway Contractors, Engineering Firm & Utility Company campaign contributions later…

  26. drjay says:

    yes as the highest ranking senator of the majority party–and having served as the de facto ltguv for 4 years EJ raises a lot of money pretty easily from a lot of sources–i’m not sure what the relevance is to his ability to do his job–or more specifically to the vetoes which are the point of this thread…

  27. Lorie says:

    Thank you for your suppport. Years ago in my youth I never dreamed of politics as anything other than wise men making policy for the good of everyone. How naive and stupid I was. Since my son’s diagnosis and refusal of his private insurance to cover the cost, I’ve dipped first my foot in to see how I could get self insured companies to pay for services. No dice. Damn Federal laws. So state… hmmm. To my shock and amazement, I realized that politics do make strange bedfellows.

    I saw families meeting w/ the Gov’s then health advisor pleading for help re: the Katie Beckett changes which WERE NOT ordered by the FEDS or MEDICAID. This was a unilateral state decision. We knew of Federal Regs that allowed us families not to have to renew yearly thus saving the state money. No dice. Contract w/ GMCF. Paid nicely. Our children would not wake up one day cured. Why couldn’t we renew every three years and save the paperwork? Administrative fees.

    Thus 549. A truly beautiful bill when it first came out. It basically took the Fed Regs and put them into a bill. Everything that the state and the CMO’s were denying. It was tabled. Went into committee w/ a senator who is an “Executive” of one of the CMO’s and came out really trashy. But hey, we still wanted it because if was better than nothing.

    When the CMO’s came out, a lot of the KB families were told, they would have to pick one. Unfortunately, this was not true. Doctors and providers were told all their patients would have to pick one. I even know some doctors who were told to pick a plan or they would not have their Medicaid number renewed. They opted out.

    The CMO’s started denying services and prior authorizations. Children were being denied access to medically needed care. Providers are still not getting paid. Several therapy clinics have gone out of business.

    The CMO’s made a huge profit on the back’s of these children. The parents could not get them back on regular KB Medicaid. Two of the three CMO’s have been investigated by the Feds.

    That is why 549 was vetoed and why as long as these CMO’s run the state, healthcare for these children will dwindle down to nothing.

  28. kimforkids says:

    Lorie,
    Your comments are right on the money! I am still trying to get CMO claims paid from July, because the CMO states that, when I follow the CMS guidelines for filling out the form, that I am not “doing it correctly”. Every person that I speak with from the CMO tells me that I am doing a different thing incorrectly, and then when I follow the CMO Provider Manual, it states totally different things than what I have been advised by the CMO customer service rep.!! I too, have a family to feed and clothe, and waiting 6 months to get paid is very difficult. Countless families that I service for therapy annually get denied Katie Beckett, and then win on appeal. It would make much more sense and cost the taxpayers much less money if these families would just get approved the first time they submit their mountain of paperwork. One CMO requires that I perform a standardized test EVERY MONTH on a child with cerebral palsy in order for this child to continue to receive services. She is two and in Babies Can’t Wait. My time would be much better spent, and the child would benefit more if this hour could be spent receiving the manual therapy, taping and splinting that she needs to allow her to use her hand functionally. A child with cerebral palsy, or any child for that matter, does not change in abilities THAT MUCH from month to month. I am hanging in and jumping through all the hoops because I truly love my job and enjoy improving the quality of life for these children, but I can see why many physicians and other therapy providers are no longer accepting CMOs or Medicaid or are going out of business. It must be hard to pay employees when you have to wait so long to get claims paid. The waiting list for pediatric orthopedic surgeons in metro Atlanta that accept Medicaid (only two last time I checked), is months long. That is absolutely pitiful for a city of this size, with many, many children needing these services.
    I am praying to God (maybe WE should hold a prayer vigil on the Capital steps-not to pray for rain, but to pray for the passage of HB 549), that the Senate overrides this veto.

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