Some Perspective On Georgia’s Legislature

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

At some point, everything must become a matter of perspective.

This has been an unusual session of the Georgia General Assembly.  A veteran lobbyist I spoke with after the final gavel last night called it the most bizarre he had witnessed in twenty years.  Not so much for one singular act, but for the differing and changing undercurrents peppered with bizarre acts of political mayhem.  The hubrius of the once minority party has grown into the monster which it once battled, but without the institutional power structure honed into a pecking order solidified over more than a century.

There was an alleged “fight” yesterday which was really little more than a chest bump.  Apparently Dan Becker of Georgia Right To Life decided the best way to convince the lobbyist for Georgia’s OBGYNs of God’s will was to lay hands on him in a less than prayerful manner.  In a separate altercation, another seasoned lobbyist took issue with a State Senator and was removed from the chamber.  The State Patrol quelled protests from both the Occupy movement and a women’s rights group protesting the restrictions placed on abortions after 20 weeks.  Let’s just say things got weird all around.

In the middle of all of this, there was yet another brazen, naked attempt to water down Georgia’s ethics laws by attaching an amendment to a bill which dealt with technical corrections regarding obtaining how Georgians obtain hunting and fishing licenses.  The amendment was added in a conference committee, and quickly passed the Senate.  It was within minutes of passing the House before being caught, and struck down.  I’ll have quite a bit more to say about that next week.

The attempt to pass this and other bills in the rush that is the final day of the Georgia General Assembly had me angry and a bit defeated when I left the Capitol just after midnight.  I chose to join some friends at Manuel’s Tavern to commiserate, long a traditional spot for many of them, and long a traditional power center for Georgia Democrats.  I frankly didn’t feel like being surrounded by fellow Republicans after yesterday.

A couple of hours of food and company took some of the edge off, and I eventually headed home still a bit peeved but beginning the process of letting go.  Along the way I had to stop for an ambulance to cross the intersection in front of me, lights and sirens blaring.  It was going toward my house, presumably to Emory Hospital which is on my route.  After a few blocks, however, it shut off its lights and slowed.  I eventually caught up to it, and followed it the rest of the way to the hospital, where it turned in, but without the purpose it had when I first crossed its path.

The passenger in the ambulance presumably had a much worse night than me.  For the rest of us, the sun came up this morning.  We’ll still have all the problems that we had the night before, but we’ll have today and hopefully tomorrow to work on them.  No one turned the lights off on us while we were trying to get to the place where things get better.

Earlier in the evening, I was able to catch up with a member of the House whom I haven’t talked to in years.  We talked about old times, and how we never thought that this is what we wanted when we were members of the minority party Republicans.  He quoted Churchill, who said that Democracy is the worst form of all governments, except for all the others.   I was at least wondering if we could actually do worse.

But we also quickly agreed that we will continue to do what we can, in the way that we can do them.  Some days we will be outnumbered, but we still have today.  At least in that way, we’re better off than the person who was in the back of the ambulance.

And so, with that, the Georgia General Assembly of 2012 has come to a close.  There were a few notable achievements, and there were great displays of hubris, self service, and unbridled arrogance.  But there is also a tomorrow, with a campaign and elections.  Tomorrow is, after all, another day.

I will rest up this weekend, and attempt to gain some more perspective.  Then I’ll be back next week.  We’ll break down some of what happened – right and wrong – and move forward.  After all, we have another day. The question is, what will we do with it?


  1. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    “This has been an unusual session of the Georgia General Assembly.”

    You mean more unusual than the usual unusual?

  2. CobbGOPer says:

    Yes, now for campaign season, where we put up sacrificial lambs to be slaughtered by incumbents who will outspend them 10-1 with Chamber of Commerce/Georgia Power/Waffle Hauze money.

    The GOP here is hopeless. We need to be organizing a third party.

  3. ted in bed says:

    As a gun-toter, this session was beyond depressing. Every year, the Republicans get MORE anti-gun and more like the Democrats before them. This year it was Speaker Ralston and the House’s turn to obstruct gun bills. I’m sure they’ll all run as 2nd Amendment champions, but they don’t have the record to back it up.

    If the path we are on continues, I would not be surprised if Ralston starts openly pushing gun-control legislation. Here how the NRA described the situation:

    Georgia: Unfortunate Political Games in the General Assembly Accomplish Little for the Second Amendment in 2012
    Late last night, the Georgia General Assembly adjourned and with that, the door of opportunity to pass substantial pro-gun reforms was slammed shut.

    The potential for pro-gun legislation to pass in both chambers of the state legislature was very real and likely for this legislative session. But, due to the serious distrust between the members of both legislative bodies towards its opposite (despite being of the same political party) gun owners will now need to wait until next year for legislative efforts to protect and restore our Second Amendment rights.

    The failure of the General Assembly to act on behalf of gun owners and sportsmen is tremendously frustrating, especially considering that both houses of the Georgia General Assembly have overwhelmingly pro-gun majorities. Despite this golden opportunity, there were political games and unnecessary posturing in Atlanta throughout the last two weeks of the legislative session and your gun rights were ignored rather than made a priority.

    As you know, this year is an election year and every state Senator and Representative stands for reelection. When an incumbent candidate asks for your vote between now and November, ask them what they did specifically since the last election to advance your gun rights? The honest answer is, collectively, not much.

    When the votes were there in the state Senate and House, legislative leadership – with the apparent support of their caucus – chose to play political games with your gun rights rather than make them a legislative priority.

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