As you may or may not already know from Jim Galloway’s reporting this morning, Sen. George Hooks (D-Americus) offered a resolution that would change when points of personal privilege, short speeches where a member can talk about any topic, are done. They are currently done at the end of the session for that day. Hooks wants to change the rules to bring them back to the start of business for the daily session. This vote is extremely significant in that it opens up the possibility for a vote for on a new President Pro Tem of the Senate.
According to Galloway, Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) moved that the resolution be engrossed, which would prevent any amendments from being added. Rogers lost that vote. As the caucus rules stand now, when the President Pro Tem or the Majority Leader takes a position it is considered a caucus position and the rank-and-file follow suit with support. Not this morning. Democrats voted against him and 14 members of the Republican caucus took a walk. And Rogers motion failed by a vote of 23 to 19.
The discontent among Senate Republicans during this session has been no secret, but you know it runs deep when nearly half of your caucus skips out on a vote for a motion pushed by the Majority Leader. And if you’re Rogers, you see the writing on the wall. With the 19 Democrats voting “no” and 14 Senators (13 Republicans) not voting, the nays clearly have the majority, leaving Rogers and Williams with an ominous sinking feeling.
Word is that Rogers, Pro-Tem Tommie Williams, Sen. Ronnie Chance and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle met in private to discuss some sort of compromise. Williams is rumored to have offered to give up the office of Pro-Tem before the next session (he may have done that if he decides to run in GA-12). The compromise offered by the Lt. Gov. Cagle was simple; he would chair the Committee on Assignments, which would include the President Pro-Tem, the Majority Leader and five appointees of the Lt. Gov. Given that the Cagle has the leverage and the votes, one could only guess as the prospects of the “compromise.”
A two and half hour Senate GOP caucus ended a short while ago with Cagle making a surprise appearance to offer his compromise. No vote on the proposed compromise was held. One has to wonder, with the close relationship between Gov. Deal and Lt. Gov. Cagle and with the Governor’s Floor Leader and Lt. Gov.’s appointee to the Committee on Assignments – Sen. Jim Butterworth – pushing this amendment, which statewide elected official from Gainesville will really will hold the power in the in the Senate?
What will come all of this, I don’t know. But there is a real possibility that the Senate leadership could be different tomorrow, and it also seems that Gov. Deal is making his mark on the body that he was once a member of as many feel that his presence is being felt with this compromise.