Senate Majority Caucus Announces A Pro-Children Agenda

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle talks about the majority caucus agenda, along with Senators Bill Cowsert, William Ligon and Charlie Bethel.  Photo: Jon Richards
Lt. Governor Casey Cagle talks about the majority caucus agenda, along with Senators Bill Cowsert, William Ligon and Charlie Bethel. Photo: Jon Richards
Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, and Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer were among the GOP lawmakers in the Georgia Senate Majority Caucus to outline the conference’s priorities in a Capitol press conference Monday morning. The caucus’s goals for 2015 are reflected in the first three numbered bills filed in the Senate, covering autism insurance, supporting career education, and protecting the state’s vulnerable children.

The caucus’s goals include helping young children with autism, providing opportunities for high school students ready to take college level courses, and continuing and expanding the protection of the state’s children. Other more general goals include pushing economic development and job creation, and ensuring students are taught the founding principles of the American republic, including American Exceptionalism.

Senator Charlie Bethel talked about Senate Bill 1, which would provide insurance benefits to the one in 68 children affected with an autism spectrum disorder. Saying that we “cannot turn a blind eye to a clear crisis,” Senator Bethel pointed out that it much cheaper and more effective to treat a child with autism as a young child rather than waiting until he or she enters school.

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle addressed the second goal of improving education for students who may be able to take college level or technical coursework before graduating from high school. Senate Bill 2 would make that possible, and would build on the success of the state’s college and career academy program.

Senate Bill 3, the Supporting and Strengthening Families Act, is sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman. The purpose of the bill is to allow children in need of foster care to be handed over to someone other than a blood relative. The goals are to prevent maltreatment of children, to place fewer children on welfare and to support and stabilize the family.

It’s interesting to note that, except for opening remarks by Sen. David Shafer talking about the need to improve the state’s business environment by investing in transportation infrastructure, no mention was made of what is considered to be one of the most important issues facing the legislature this session. On the other hand, a bill reflecting the conclusions of the Joint Transportation Study Committee is expected to be introduced soon in the House, rather than the Senate. Given the theme of tying goals with specific legislation, perhaps that makes sense.

And, a press release announcing the initiatives had this:

The Majority Caucus also will use this session of the General Assembly to attract new businesses and promote job creation. Along with the proven tactics that have helped Georgia become the best place in the U.S. to do business, the Senate will work to improve the state’s infrastructure. This will ensure transportation issues do not interfere with businesses’ ability to transport goods and services and people have an easy ability to get to work, home, school, and church.

“Job creation remains our highest priority,” said Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R – Duluth). “We want to keep Georgia a place where businesses want to locate and where people want to live, work, study, and worship.”


  1. blakeage80 says:

    Just a political tactics question: With an issue as pressing as transportation funding, is it normally better to get most of the negotiating done behind the scenes and present a bill later in the session that is a near-finished product or is it better to get several bills out early and debate them more publicly over a longer period of time? I ask this purely in terms of getting something substantive passed, not what is necessarily the best way in someone’s opinion.

    • Rambler14 says:

      Not that this necessarily answers your question,

      but when TSPLOST passed,
      both the House and Senate proposed different bills early on. One had a statewide tax and one didn’t. They couldn’t agree on a compromise. It looked like it was completely dead until a 11th hour deal on like Day 59 attached the compromise (regions could vote) to another bill.

    • Will Durant says:

      Perhaps the best way to promote the transportation funding is to hold a press conference and announce that for school bus safety, teen drivers, etc. GDOT needs the money for the chilldrunnn.

  2. Dave Bearse says:

    The problem with teaching students that American Exceptionalism was one of the founding principles of the country is that the concept of American Exceptionalism didn’t begin to be developed until over 50 years after independence.

    And how else can students be expected to know that founding fathers like John Quincy Adams fought tooth and nail against slavery?

    • TheEiger says:

      Hmmmm, I hope they aren’t learning that John Quincy Adams was a founding father fighting against slavery. He was only a child then. His father was a founding father that was opposed to slavery. I hope that is what children are learning in school.

      • Dave Bearse says:

        Many of the people advocating for such instruction are people that don’t belong in a conversation about curriculum.

        John Quincy Adams was alive during the revolutionary war which qualified him as a founding father, at least accordingly to Michele Bachman, so presumably the same temporal concept applies to American Exceptionalism.

        Bachman at least was speaking off the cuff, unlike Herman Cain who cited the Constitution’s “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” in announcing his candidacy for President, or Casey Cagle, though my comment is based on the post, which may not accurately summarize Cagle’s remarks.

        • TheEiger says:

          Neither Bachman or Cain hold elective office any more. Let’s focus on the people in the mix and not the crazies on the outside looking in. That’s one really big problem with far left liberals and tea party peeps. They love to attack people that mean absolutely nothing instead of actual policy makers. Rush, Gruber, Koch brothers, Soros, crazy Trump, crazy global warming scientists all come to mind. Let’s focus on the people that make things happen and not the people that just want to be mentioned in the paper.

          Also, I’ll never defend what a crazy republican says. The same as I hope you would never defend “Guam will tip over” or “we have to pass the bill to see what’s in it” comment right?

          • Dave Bearse says:

            You started to lose me when you said the Koch brothers, Soros, Trump mean absolutely nothing. US tax policy is indisputable proof that fortunes mold policy. You lost me if you’re suggesting that scientists that think human activity contributing to global warming are crazy.

            There’s crazy on the left, but it’s not in the same league as right-wing nuttery. As to the influence of Rush et al, there’s actual policymaker Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal defending “no go zones” of Sharia law in Europe because he heard about them on Fox News.

            • androidguybill says:

              “There’s crazy on the left, but it’s not in the same league as right-wing nuttery.”

              Only because you are a liberal, and therefore where mainstream Republican/conservative ideas are considered “crazy” to you, ideas that aren’t even discussed in America politically but are considered marginal in places like Sweden are considered “crazy” to you. The fact that Democrats have convinced themselves that they are “the party of the middle” is part of the problem.

              For example, you can cite Bachmann as an example of the crazies, but you won’t touch a lot of the nonsense theories and practices that get proposed for public education because those are your guys. You won’t touch the people who are proposing $15-$20 per hour minimum wages or guaranteed minimum incomes either, even though both ideas are frequently discussed in mainstream newspapers, not even left-liberal alternatives like Village Voice, L.A. Weekly and And a lot of what is taught at our universities? Again your guys, so perfectly mainstream and acceptable.

              That is a HUGE part of why nothing ever gets done.

            • TheEiger says:

              “There’s crazy on the left, but it’s not in the same league as right-wing nuttery.”

              Really? I mean Really? Did you read this before you posted it? This statement is pretty telling about your own state of mind.

              • benevolus says:

                I would say that there is certainly crazy on the left, but the crazy on the right is embedded in the leadership/power brokers. Ted Cruz? I know some of you like him but he is not a realistic politician. He would be great running some ideological group but as a politician the guy is whacked. Bachmann, Palin, Limbaugh… our crazies don’t have that kind of clout.

                • TheEiger says:

                  Elizabeth Warren is the Ted Cruz of the left.

                  If you all think that the left doesn’t have crazies as bad as Bachman and Ted Cruz you are living in a fancy world and are certifiably crazy yourself.

                • TheEiger says:

                  Again, you liberals love to bring up people that are not even holding office.

                  “Bachmann, Palin, Limbaugh…” = crazy and not in office.

                  Hank Johnson, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Corrine Brown = crazy in office.

                  • benevolus says:

                    Holding office isn’t the same as clout or influence. Hillary Clinton is not in office but she probably has more influence than Hank Johnson.

                • androidguybill says:


                  You say Ted Cruz on one hand. I say Bernie Sanders on the other. Ted Cruz is a Republican. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders is an independent because the Democratic Party is not left-liberal enough for him. Sanders self-describes as a democratic socialist and that his ideal economic system is Scandinavia’s. And where Ted Cruz is “not a realistic politician”, Bernie Sanders has been a VERY INFLUENTIAL POLICY GUY FOR THE DEMOCRATS FOR TWENTY FIVE YEARS.

                  And Sanders is just one guy. The progressive caucus in D.C. has a ton of people in it that are to one degree or another trying to get our country to emulate European social democracy. And those are the moderates in the progressive caucus. The more bold members of the progressive caucus – U.S. senators and congresspeople – are heavily influenced by everyone from Trotsky to Guevara.

                  So people who want to take our government’s economic policy back to where it was before the Great Society like Cruz are called “out of the mainstream” but the D.C. progressive caucus types like Sanders who agree with the far left parties in Greece are not a matter of any concern?

                  Again, it is only because they are on your side and you basically agree with them that you don’t see them as extremist. And that is the same attitude that you guys took during the Cold War by the way. Fascist dictatorships in Latin America? HORRIBLE. EVIL. Sanction them, take military action against them if necessary. But Marxist dictatorships in Latin America, Africa and Asia slaughtering people left and right and coordinating with the KGB and China? Well they are just trying to lower poverty rates so let us see what we can learn from them. Lots of those people even defended the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, for example. If you are one of those people who believes that extremists only exist on your side in theory, you are part of the problem.

                  • benevolus says:

                    It’s not about where they stand on the political spectrum for me. It’s about some of the crazy things they say and presumably believe. I think Scott Walker is pretty conservative but not crazy. Cruz is unhinged though. Irrational. Warren is very liberal but also very rational. GW B. Isn’t even on the political spectrum. Not sure if Limbaugh actually crazy or just a huckster.

                    • David C says:

                      Pointing out Bernie Sanders is an “influential policy guy” because he’s smart enough to trim his sales and compromise when it matters to get a bit of what he wants. He also voted for the AUMF in 2001 and rejected impeachment in the like. He didn’t lead a movement to shut down government over the surge. Cruz takes grandiose stands and whips against his own party leadership on things like government shutdowns in the like. No matter what he personally thinks, in practice, because he’s a savvy legislator rather than a bomb thrower, he’s much more centrist in practice than he lets on.

              • Dave Bearse says:

                TheEiger, I don’t know your age so I don’t your experience with change over time. The GOP has been drifting right for over 30 years. Ronald Reagan would have as much chance now winning the GOP nomination for President as Jon Huntsman did in ’12.

                30 years ago I was voting for nearly the same fraction of GOP candidates as I do Dem now. My views, except for social issues and war, have not changed much over that time. I’m closer to GOP positions on some issues than my comments here indicate.

                We’ll just have to disagree.

                • TheEiger says:

                  Where have I said that Ted Cruz isn’t crazy or that the republicans don’t have crazies? I haven’t. I think you are crazy for being so blinded that you don’t see that the left has their own crazies. That is all. Being crazy isn’t a new thing. They have been around forever. Joseph McCarthy and George Wallace come to mind. I could list crazies all the way back to 1776 if I need to, but it won’t matter because you are blinded by something. Whether it’s your pure hate for the GOP or you are just crazy I don’t know.

  3. Three Jack says:

    How about a Pro Georgia Taxpayer agenda? That’s why we originally elected GOPers to replace the dems who spent countless years pandering to specific special interests groups. Just more proof the only difference between Ds and Rs is a slight modification of the drawn letter.

    • androidguybill says:

      First off, “taxpayers”, defined as people that are (usually selectively) fiscally conservative, are every bit a “specific special interest group” as everyone else, especially considering that most “taxpayers” actually earn less and pay less in taxes than a great many liberals, and the political stomping grounds of most “taxpayers” are generally “debtor states” that send less tax revenue to the federal government than they receive back, while those who do not align with the “taxpayer” movements generally represent states where people earn higher incomes, are less likely to be on federal assistance or rely on the military-industrial jobs or farm subsidies or the extraction economy (fossil fuels, mining etc.) and therefore generally subsidize the “taxpayer” states on the federal level. In other words, taxes are low in the “taxpayer” states because they are subsidized by the fiscally liberal states, just as taxes are low in rural Georgia because of tax revenue that is collected from high earners and corporations in DeKalb and Fulton.

      Second, demographics in Georgia are changing. Similar to how the Democrats adopted Republican rhetoric during the Clinton era, Georgia Republicans are going to have to learn how to talk to people other than the ones who were voting for “former” segregationists as late as the 1990s, and to the folks who left the northeast looking for lower taxes and lower property values and have no real stake or loyalty in this state’s success (because if things start to go south they will just move again, just like a lot of them abandoned the state when the going got tough and the easy money in real estate, finance, IT etc. left during the Great Recession).

      • Three Jack says:

        Where did I refer to taxpayers as anything other than every single person who pays taxes in Georgia? If that is a special interest group, we should be more powerful than we are based on sheer numbers alone. Somebody ought to organize.

  4. John Konop says:

    The problem is we focus on what is not working, rather than focus on what is working and than using it in other school districts. For instance, in Cherokee we have had a system for years that started students on a AP track in 6th grade which allowed students to take AP/joint enrolment math/science starting in 10th grade….. I was shocked years ago when I first started writing about education issues ( integrated math ie math 123) many districts did not have this option. Yet Cherokee had a nationally ranked math program…..Our SS instead of growing the concept flipped to other unproven idea of the day math123… with failed results…..

    Casey Cagle has expanded the options for vo-tech students as well….We have many great solutions that can be expanded in our state….but we need to focus on what is working and stop trying to reinvent the wheel, with the idea of the day……

    Finally the mission statement for schools should be preparing students for skilled labor and or higher education. Which is why we must consolidate higher education/skilled certification programs with high schools under one roof. It makes no sense to separate the management function by 2 separate state agencies with the above goal.

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