Senate Chairmanships Announced

Posted without comment. For now.

Agriculture: Sen. John Wilkinson (R – Toccoa)
Appropriations: Sen. Jack Hill (R – Reidsville)
Banking: Sen. John Crosby (R – Tifton)
Economic Development: Sen. Frank Ginn (R – Danielsville)
Education and Youth: Sen. Lindsay Tippins (R – Marietta)
Ethics: Sen. Rick Jeffares (R – Locust Grove)
Finance: Sen. Judson Hill (R – Marietta)
Government Oversight: Sen. Bill Heath (R – Bremen)
Health and Human Services: Sen. Renee Unterman (R – Buford)
Higher Education: Sen. Bill Cowsert (R – Athens)
Insurance and Labor: Sen. Tim Golden (R – Valdosta)
Interstate Cooperation: Sen. Hardie Davis (D – Augusta)
Judiciary (Civil): Sen. Josh McKoon (R – Columbus)
Judiciary (Non-Civil): Sen. Jesse Stone (R – Waynesboro)
Natural Resources and Environment: Sen. Ross Tolleson (R – Perry)
Public Safety: Sen. Buddy Carter (R – Pooler)
Reapportionment and Redistricting: Sen. Don Balfour (R – Snellville)
Regulated Industries: Sen. Jack Murphy (R – Cumming)
Retirement: Sen. Fran Millar (R – Dunwoody)
Rules: Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga)
Science and Technology: Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R – Cassville)
Special Judiciary: Sen. Curt Thompson (D – Tucker)
State and Local Government Operations: Sen. William Ligon (R – Brunswick)
State Institutions: Sen. John Albers (R – Roswell)
Transportation: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)
Urban Affairs: Sen. Ronald Ramsey (D – Decatur)
Veterans, Military and Homeland Security: Sen. Ed Harbison (D –Columbus)


  1. Harry says:

    Jeff Mullis the chairman of the Rules Committee? Really? Well, I guess the GAGOP has finally left behind folks like me.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      I know…You clearly must be broken up about Jack Murphy being out as Banking chair, but you can cheer up because Murphy is the new chair of the Regulated Industries Committee.

      …Tears of joy, I know.

  2. Dave Bearse says:

    Reapportionment and Redistricting a year after redistricting is complete may be the least important Committee, but I would think a Senate anxious to demonstrate it will police itself would have Balfour sitting out two years.

  3. KudzuDave says:

    Shouldn’t have to believe in science to chair a committee named for it?
    Not to end there, Loudermilk has had one technology related bill of note and it was to ban energy saving light bulbs.
    Really sad for Georgia.

  4. Ghost of William F Buckley says:

    I sincerely hope that Sen. Barry Loudermilk, Chair, Science and Technology Committee doesn’t go all Sen. Paul “Pits of Hell” Broun” on us locally.

    Many are quietly watching, Sen. Loudermilk, govern yourself accordingly, please and thank you.

  5. Romegaguy says:

    Debbie and those 2 women from South GA were as successful with their move for Rules chair as they were in getting Ralph Reed elected as Lt. Gov

    • Harry says:

      From the Lafayette Underground:
      Mullis was the primary sponsor of TSPLOST. He’s worked for years to get the federal government to build a high-speed train from Atlanta to Chattanooga (for billions of dollars) with no stops in his own district. He’s been Chair of the Transportation committee for years, but all he’s done for local roads is block projects in Rome that his deep-pocket supporters dislike.

      Hope Sen. Mullis can help to reform the organs of state government, but I have my doubts.

      • Stefan says:

        Why would a high-speed train from Atlanta to Chattanooga stop anywhere but Atlanta and Chattanooga? Wouldn’t it have to slow down? And thus, no longer be “high-speed”?

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          “Why would a high-speed train from Atlanta to Chattanooga stop anywhere but Atlanta and Chattanooga?”

          For one, because there are some fairly significant towns in Northwest Georgia between Atlanta and Chattanooga. Cities and towns between Atlanta and Chattanooga like Cartersville, Calhoun and Dalton along I-75 and Rome, Summerville, Lafayette and Chickamauga along U.S. 27 may not be major cities, but they are cities that are large enough to play a significant role in Georgia’s economy, both individually and collectively.

          Second, so that smaller cities and towns and rural areas can have a chance to get in on the economic development and growth action that has made larger cities like Chattanooga and Atlanta so successful.

          Third, to provide logistical and economic connectivity to more places than just two end points. People in lesser-populated places Rome, Lafayette, Calhoun, Dalton, etc deserve to have additional opportunities for connectivity (and the economic opportunities that come with it) just like people in heavier and more-densely populated places like Cobb County and Atlanta have had for decades.

          Also, there are differing types of high-speed trains. There are high-speed bullet trains that travel at speeds of nearly 200 miles-per-hour through magnetic levitation in places like Japan and France and then there are trains that can travel at speeds of 70-130 mph on more conventional tracks like in the Boston-NYC-Phila-DC Northeastern Corridor.

          Also, just because a passenger rail line may have multiple stops between two endpoints doesn’t mean that each train that travels between those two endpoints has to stop at each of those stations. Some trains may have enough demand at the endpoints to have no stops between those endpoints (like an express train or express bus) while other trains may have only one or two stops between endpoints while other trains may have frequent stops scheduled between endpoints to provide a more comprehensive local type of service while yet other trains may only have selective local service with consecutive trains may make local stops at different stations between endpoints.

        • Dave Bearse says:

          More than a few stops and you’re correct, it won’t really be high speed. Each stop will add about 5 minutes to travel time—about a couple minutes each lost to deceleration/acceleration, and say one minute at the platform.

          Stations are determined by ridership studies—is more ridership/revenue lost by an additional five minutes travel time than is gained by the stop? Station capital and operating costs are considered too.

          My estimate is two, perhaps at most three stops, in addition to a downtown stop, presuming one terminus is the airport. Four stops, including downtown would ding trip time over 15 minutes, increasing the 45 minutes required to travel 130 miles at 175mph to an hour.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            There can be more than three stations on an Atlanta-Chattanooga rail line.

            Heck, you can add virtually as many stations as you want to a rail line, high-speed rail or otherwise with a station at darned near every city, town, neighborhood and hamlet between Atlanta and Chattanooga if you so choose. But that doesn’t mean that trains traveling between Atlanta and Chattanooga, and vice-versa, have to stop at every one of those stations.

            Even with 100 stations on a high-speed rail line between Atlanta and Chattanooga many of those stations may only be served by as few as one or two trains each way within a 24-hour period.

            But even if some stations may only be served by trains once or twice each way daily, it is important to be somewhat generous with the number of stops so that economically-depressed and economically-impaired rural locations get the economic opportunities and logistical connectivity to the outside world that they need and so that trains traveling between an Atlanta and Chattanooga are able to generate the ridership and revenue that they need from points in-between if they cannot always generate adequate ridership and revenue from just only the stations at the two endpoints alone.

            Even if all trains don’t stop at them, more stations = more potential ridership and revenue and more economic development opportunities for the areas around those stations, even if they get served by one or two trains each way daily.

            • mpierce says:

              More stops cost more money to construct, operate, and maintain. More stops may reduce ridership as the increased travel time and schedule complexity can dissuade people from using the train. Also at some point your aren’t adding more passengers as much as pulling riders from other stations.

              • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                But just as I stated above and below, not every train traveling between Atlanta (preferably the Atlanta Airport) and Chattanooga would stop at each station along the way. Some trains (providing local service) might stop at numerous stations, while other trains (providing express high-speed rail service) may have no stops at all between endpoints in Atlanta and Chattanooga, while other trains may have varying amounts of stops in between according to demand and the amount of service needed.

                You may have 30+ stops on the line between ATL and Chattanooga but some trains may only stop twice (once when leaving from Atlanta and once when arriving in Chattanooga). The number of times a train stops and where a train stops will be all according to demand at any given time of day.

                • mpierce says:

                  Those stops would have construction, operations, and maintenance costs regardless of how often the train stopped. A stop with 1 or 2 trains in a 24hr period as you suggest above would be extremely limiting on who would use that station. It would also add complexity to the schedule causing frustration for some riders.

                  • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                    Other heavily-used commuter trains (Chicago’s Metra & South Shore trains, New York’s Metro North & Long Island Railroad, etc) and intercity trains (Amtrak) utilize flexible schedules with express and selected local train service to different stops as demand dictates, just as local buses do. Heck, Greyhound buses utilize schedules where some buses are express service between a few large cities and some buses are local with numerous stops in smaller cities and towns between two major points.

                    If train riders in cities like Chicago, New York, Washington, etc and bus riders on MARTA and Greyhound buses can figure out how to read a transit schedule and decide which bus or train they must board to get where they need to go, then so can those boarding trains between Atlanta and Chattanooga as no matter the number of stations on the rail line, only a few stations would be served by EVERY train traveling between Atlanta and Chattanooga (likely only Atlanta Airport, Downtown Atlanta, Downtown Chattanooga).

                    And some stations, especially those located in more sparcely-populated areas, would only be as large as a one small building with a simple parking lot for park-and-ride service and drop-offs. In many smaller cities and towns where there used to be intercity passenger rail service, before the era of automobile domination, the historic train depots are still standing (many are still in use for other purposes while some sit empty and decaying).

                    In sparcely populated areas with stops, the still-usable abandoned small train depots could be converted back into one-room train stations to minimize costs, costs that would be paid through a mix of user fees, private investment and Tax Increment Financing (property tax revenue from new development that pops up around stations and along the train line).

                    Even if the stations at some sparcely-populated locales are only used a few times a day (or a week), it would still be important for it to be there or for it to be planned to be there so that an area can have the often desperately-needed logistical connection and economic opportunities that goes with having those stations and logistical connection to the rest of the outside world.

                    And even if one could not catch a train at a particular station at a particular time that they wanted, they could always drive to the nearest station where there would be service when they wanted as the next nearest station being served at that time would not likely be that far away.

                    For example, if someone who lived near the Lake Allatoona station in Southeast Bartow County (between Acworth and Emerson) needed to catch a train to the Atlanta Airport at 4am, but no 4am train stops at the Lake Allatoona station, they could drive the five or so miles down the road to the Acworth Station to catch the 4am train to the ATL Airport.

                    In other words, the Atlanta-Chattanooga train line would a line that would carry both express high-speed trains (with few, if any, stops between endpoints) and regional commuter trains (with multiple, but selected, stops in-between endpoints) as it is not practical to run either all express high-speed intercity trains or all regional commuter rail trains on such a crucial line which is so sorely in need of both types of train service.

                    • mpierce says:

                      Those systems have a large base that commute into the city on a daily basis for work. That provides familiarity with the schedules and frequent trains to choose from. I doubt there are many stops that have 1-2 trains per day. An Atlanta – Chattanooga line would have nowhere near the ridership base of those other systems. We just don’t have the population density.

                    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                      Don’t be so sure that we don’t have the population density because you’ve got to keep-in-mind that those commuter rail systems in other large cities provide park-and-ride service between densely-developed areas at the urban core of a major metro region and much more sparcely-populated outer-suburban, exurban and rural areas at the periphery of a major metro region (where passengers may drive their vehicles anywhere from between a few blocks to up to 20 miles away, park at the station and catch the train to work and play in the city and much more densely-populated areas closer to the city).

                      The Virginia Railway Express (VRE) serves suburban and exurban areas in Northern Virginia along the I-95 Corridor between Washington DC and Fredricksburg, VA (with frequent Amtrak intercity train service to Richmond, VA which is roughly the same distance away from DC that Chattanooga is from Atlanta) that are similar in density of development and population to Northwest Metro Atlanta and Northwest Georgia along the I-75 Corridor between Atlanta and Chattanooga.

                      Also, the fact that we do have the population density to support regional park-and-ride commuter rail and intercity train service shows every weekday in the form of the rush hour parking lot that is often I-75 between Acworth and the I-285 NW Cobb Cloverleaf. Not all of that excess traffic on I-75 between Acworth and I-285 comes strictly from Metro Atlanta alone, quite a bit of that traffic comes from far outer-suburban/exurban and even rural counties that are as far as up to 100+ miles away up the I-75 and I-575/GA 515 Corridors.

                      Familiarity with those train schedules on regional commuter and intercity rail lines outside other very-large metro regions comes from knowing which stations one has to use. And there multiple stations on commuter rail lines in which the train stops as little as twice daily in each direction. Here’s a link to an example in which the towns of Mattituck, Southold and Greenport, NY are only served twice daily by eastbound trains (from NYC) and only three times daily by westbound trains (towards NYC) on the Ronkonkoma Branch (Purple Line) of the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) regional commuter rail service-

                      Also, commuter trains often operate in zones where consecutive trains alternate the areas where they stop. For example, one train headed to Atlanta from Chattanooga, via the CSX/W&A alignment, may only stop at a few selected stations in a zone between Chattanooga and Cartersville and then not stop again until making a few stops inside of I-285 between Cumberland and the Domestic side (Westside) of the Atlanta Airport while the next train heading in the same direction may only serve the section of the line between Calhoun and Cumberland before making a couple of final stops at roughly Five Points and the International side (Eastside) of the Atlanta Airport, etc.

                    • mpierce says:

                      Here is a map showing the difference in population density between the LIRR area and that of Atlanta-Chattanooga. Even with much higher density, fares and tolls only cover half of MTA’s expenses.

                    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                      Cool. Thanks for the link. You are also so very correct that even with the much higher population density of over 5,000 people per square mile on Long Island (as compared to the area between Atlanta and Chattanooga roughly along the I-75 and GA 6/US 27 Corridors that are proposed to be served by regional commuter trains over the long-run) that MTA’s fares and tolls (some of which can range as high as $31.00 one-way on the Long Island Railroad/LIRR) still only cover half MTA’s expenses….The other half of MTA’s expenses are heavily-subsidized by the substantially-higher across-the-board taxes in New York State.

                      The fact you pointed out that only half of MTA’s expenses are covered by fares and tolls underscores the importance of subsidizing any potential substantial passenger rail service expansion with distance-based user fees (per-mile fares), private investment and Tax Increment Financing (property tax revenues from new development that pops up along transit lines). Particularly since tax subsidies of virtually any kind (especially higher taxes) are a political impossibility in Georgia.

                      The difference in population densities between an area like Long Island (an area where with pockets where the population densities can range as high as 10-times that of some areas in the Atlanta-Chattanooga corridor) and the Atlanta-Chattanooga corridor also reflects why Long Island is served by roughly 28 passenger rail alignments (9 commuter rail alignments and 19 heavy-rail alignments) and the largely exurban and rural corridor between Atlanta and Chattanooga would be served by no more than two passenger rail alignments (a western regional commuter rail alignment via GA 6 and US 27 through Rome and an eastern regional commuter/intercity rail alignment via the state-owned CSX/old Western & Atlantic right-of-way in the I-75 Corridor through places like Cartersville, Calhoun and Dalton).

                      Also, despite the much lower overall population density in Northwest Georgia compared to an area like Long Island, parts of Northwest Georgia closer to Atlanta (particularly the I-75, I-575 and US 41 corridors through Cobb County) have inadequate road networks that have proven and are continuing to prove incapable of handling the increasing volumes of automobile traffic that have resulted from the very-high rates of population growth that have taken place over the last the five decades. The continuously increasing inability of the inadequate road network in Northwest Metro Atlanta to handle the growing volumes of automobile traffic from very-high rates of population growth in Cobb, Cherokee and Paulding counties is the reason why rail expansion between Atlanta and Chattanooga (in the form of regional commuter rail service in the GA 6/US 27 and I-75 corridors and heavy rail-type service between Atlanta and Acworth on the CSX/W&A right-of-way) is, has been and will continue to be under very-strong consideration.

                    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                      It is also very important to note that the distance/length of the area that would be served by future passenger rail service between Five Points in Atlanta and Downtown Chattanooga is similar almost exactly to the distance/length of the area that is served by the longest commuter rail line on Long Island (the Montauk Branch of the LIRR). It is exactly 117 miles one-way from both Five Points to Downtown Chattanooga and from Penn Station in Manhattan out to Montauk, NY out on the eastern end of Long Island.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            “Even with 100 stations on a high-speed rail line between Atlanta and Chattanooga…”

            That statement of 100 stations on a potential high-speed rail line between Atlanta and Chattanooga is just an example, by the way.

            …Roughly 35 stations is the likely number of stations that would be on a passenger rail line that operated between the Atlanta Airport and Downtown Chattanooga by way of the CSX/old-Western & Atlantic rail alignment with each train stopping (local service) and not-stopping (express high-speed rail service) at many or as few stations as needed or desired.

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