Morning Reads for Friday, February 10, 2012

February 10, 2012 8:32 am

by Todd Rehm · 12 comments

Georgia Military College color guard

Before you do anything else today, go sign this petition or Peach Pundit may not be able to continue providing you a different perspective on Georgia politics.

Jay Bookman feels threatened by the proposed Charter School Amendment, writing that “at stake are local tax dollars generated by local taxpayers for local schools, under the supervision of locally elected school board officials. The notion that unelected state officials should be able to intercede and overrule local officials in how that money is spent is unacceptable.”

Here’s the item from Atlanta Unfiltered that we tried to link to yesterday. Writer Jim Walls matched up reimbursement records by Senator Don Balfour with lobbyist-reported expenditures and raises the question whether Balfour received mileage reimbursement on days he was out of the state. This may be a clerical mistake as reimbursement checks were once, and may still be, automatically sent to legislators along with their per diem checks for days claimed as work days outside the session.

Apparently, Marco Rubio’s speech yesterday to CPAC was a stemwinder. Here’s a link.

The State Senate passed a resolution urging the expansion of federal guest work programs to increase the supply of documented migrant labor.

State Rep. Doug McKillip had his road to Damascus moment in 2009, becoming a Christian. That’s why he now opposes abortion and has filed a bill to further restrict its availability. So it’s not political opportunism mixed with a touch of trying too hard. Good to know. I’m pretty sure this will make Amy Morton feel better.

“Rep. McKillip is a political opportunist who seems willing to say or do whatever pleases his party leadership,” Morton said. “Rep. McKillip was a liberal pro-choice Democrat, and now he seems to have not only changed his party, but his core beliefs. I don’t know how voters of either party can trust him.”

Rep. Dusty Hightower, (R-Carrollton) elected on January 3, 2012 to succeed former Rep. Tim Bearden, can relax a little bit as House Bill 829 passed the House yesterday. The bill makes some redistricting tweaks, including moving the new Rep. out of a district in which he would have been forced to run against fellow incumbent Kevin Cooke (R-Villa Rica). Hightower will run for re-election this year.

Planning a sneak attack against Tennessee, the Rep. Jay Neal (R-Upper Left Hand Corner) has introduced House Bill 400, which would exempt water drawn from the Georgia Tennessee River from the state’s prohibition on inter-basin transfers. If you’re worried that I just alerted Tennessee to our plans, calm down and remember they can’t read.

The Marietta Daily Journal notes that there has been no word on whether the Governor or Speaker support the effort to revise the TSPLOST legislation.

The Augusta Chronicle opines strongly against the Obama administration’s position on contraception and religious organizations. Georgia Liberal Politico notes that the state appears to have the same policy. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, twenty states not including Georgia exempt from similar requirements employers who object for religious reasons. I suspect a bill will be filed shortly to mirror those exemptions.

Natural gas cars may receive a boost from the legislature in the form of income tax credits for buyers and for builders of natural gas refueling stations.

An independent candidate, Roger Fitzpatrick, has announced he will seek to represent Georgia’s new Ninth Congressional District as an Independent.

Kent Kingsley has announced he will run against Congressman Lynn Westmoreland as a Republican.

Attorney General Sam Olens announced that Georgia will participate in a settlement of a lawsuit against the country’s five largest lenders over allegations of fraudulent foreclosure practices. Georgia’s share will total about $814 million.

Olens says portions of the settlement will benefit loan term modifications and allow some homeowners who are underwater to refinance. He also says it will allow a number who unfairly lost their homes to foreclosure to each receive between $1800 to $2000 dollars.

Another $104 million dollars will go to the state. Olens hopes it will be used to prevent foreclosures and prosecute financial fraud, but the ultimate decision will be up to the legislature.

The only proposal to privatize Gwinnett County’s Briscoe Field is conditioned upon adding commercial service to the airport.

Gov. Deal has appointed Timothy Walmsley to fill a vacancy on Chatham County Superior Court and Philip Raymond to Superior Court for the Macon Circuit.

Congratulations to Layla Shipman, whom the Gingrich campaign has named Northwest Georgia Field Representative.

A blue water race for tall ships means that Savannah will host at least eleven of the vessels in May.

The Georgia Prostate Cancer Coalition has announced it will ask for a commemorative car tag to raise awareness. Somebody else will have to write the punchline here.

Here’s a video giving a driver’s eye view of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona from inside the Brumos Porsche #59 GT3 Cup car.

Engineer February 10, 2012 at 9:11 am

Are we going to invade Tennessee or what? I’m tired of hearing about wanting to take water from the Tennessee River. If you have an issue with borders (yes, I realize technology wasn’t as accurate at the time they surveyed the area), take it to the Supreme Court and be done with it.

Max Power February 10, 2012 at 9:15 am

The Augusta Chronicle opines strongly against the Obama administration’s position on contraception and religious organizations. Georgia Liberal Politico notes that the state appears to have the same policy. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, twenty states not including Georgia exempt from similar requirements employers who object for religious reasons. I suspect a bill will be filed shortly to mirror those exemptions.

Someone please explain this controversy to me. Is it the Republican position that if a business is affiliated with a religious organization they should be totally free from government regulation. If so, I’m going to start the the Church of Me Nuclear Waste Disposal Company and promptly start dropping radioactive barrels into the Chattahoochee as is consistent with our faith.

Toxic Avenger February 10, 2012 at 11:01 am

Informal poll:

Does anyone here think that McKillip is genuine in any way, shape, or form?

Harry February 10, 2012 at 11:26 am

What about the Christian worldview do you not understand?

kyleinatl February 10, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Best laugh I could have gotten all day.

Harry February 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Glad to give you a good laugh, but the fact is that people sometimes change their worldview for whatever reasons. Personally I congratulate him for apparently making the move from liberal Democrat to conservative Republican. More power to him.

Calypso February 10, 2012 at 11:56 am

Geniunely desperate to continue hanging out under the gold dome.

ted in bed February 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm

For the official record, the color guard is committing a crime by bringing firearms into the Capitol.

Dave Bearse February 11, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Don Balfour. Per diem for 40 days in session. Per diem for 20 committee days while in session. Per diem for 103 committee days out of session. That’s over 32 five days weeks, excluding holidays. Does Balfour have a real job, or does he get by suckling on the taxpayer teat in between being being wined and dined by lobbyists?

Ralton’s right. Georgia legislators’ votes aren’t for sale. There’s no imperative to sell your vote when your hand is in the public’s pocket.

Dave Bearse February 12, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Balfour needn’t worry he filed false reports claiming mileage he wasn’t entitled to. The Ethics Commission doesn’t investigate anything anymore, and besides, it’s transparent. If there were an investigation, Balfour can simply claim he rented a car, and drove 64 miles around San Antonio each of those days on state business. It’s no more unbelievable than him having to make a round trip to downtown Atlanta each and every day he conducts state business. Case closed.

After Walls’ story, cheats like Balfour will know to wait until lobbyists file reports before making up their own reports. Indeed it’s grounds to require that legislator’s per diem/expense reimbursement claims reporting generally match lobbyists’ reporting.

Todd Rehm February 12, 2012 at 10:22 pm

THE ETHICS COMMISSION DOESN’T REGULATE ETHICS, THEY REGULATE CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND LOBBYIST DISCLOSURES ONLY.

Calypso February 13, 2012 at 7:19 am

ummm…I going with the suckling on the teat choice.

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