Jim wrote the column I was planning on writing today. He got there first, so mine was changed quite a bit. There are a couple of themes here that will be revisited during the off season, which is also, conveniently, the campaign season.
On Josh McKoon and his quixotic quest for ethics reform:
“It was bad enough that McKoon, a rookie finishing out his first term, was one of the few Republican lawmakers to side with those who think that members of the Legislature ought not to accept gifts worth more than $100 or so.
But McKoon may have gone a step too far. When this newspaper noted last week that a new report judged Georgia to have the weakest anti-corruption laws in the nation, McKoon pushed out a photo of the front page headline via Twitter.
On Tuesday, the Senate Rules Committee gutted a measure sponsored by McKoon that merely paired a few lawmakers with citizens interested in tougher ethics laws to form a study committee. The civilians were stripped from the committee, and membership reshuffled to eliminate McKoon – a member of Common Cause at home.
“We wanted senior members of the Legislature to be on it,” explained Don Balfour, R-Snellville, chairman of the rules committee. And he saw no need for outsiders to be involved.
And on Georgia Right To Life, and their inability to compromise with anyone who will disagree with them, and their inability to, not so coincidentally, get any of their legislation passed:
Cooper is chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee, trained in a Catholic hospital and has taught obstetric nursing. She walked out of the vote for HB 954, the anti-abortion bill. The measure lacked an exception for rape and incest, which she might have tolerated. But it also omitted an exception for pregnancies in which the fetus has no chance of survival.
(After passage by the House, the Senate addressed Cooper’s concern for “medically futile” pregnancies, but the amended bill is now stalled.)
“What these groups forget is – they think that all districts reflect how they are,” Cooper said. The suburbs of metro Atlanta aren’t the bastions of Republicans that they once were. Rick Santorum finished third in her district in this month’s presidential primary.
“I’m probably more conservative than my district, because I am pro-life,” she said. Cooper, a 16-year veteran of the Legislature, doesn’t like to be threatened, but she’s also steamed because she sees her Republican party losing touch with the political center.
Consider this a primer for an ongoing discussion that we’ll be having around here.