Posts Tagged ‘Georgia Senate’

At Least it’s a Start

January 16, 2013

The greatest value in the Georgia Senate approving a rule that Senators can’t accept gifts from lobbyists of more than a $100 is that it kept the issue in the public  eye. It really doesn’t stop Senators from being showered with gifts by lobbyists trying to influence how lawmakers vote. It doesn’t specify the number of gifts so a lobbyist can give any number of gifts valued at a hundred dollars each. It also doesn’t apply to junkets.

Columbus Senator Josh McKoon, who is leading the movement to strengthen ethics laws, isn’t going to let up on getting some effective ethics legislation passed in this session and thinks the rule  change  is a first step in the process. Let’s hope he can get it done.  Georgia is one of only three states that still allow  unlimited lobbyists’ gifts.

Josh Qualifies, as Expected

April 26, 2010

Josh Mckoon, Columbus attorney and former chair of the Muscogee County Republican Party, was the first to qualify this morning in Atlanta as a Republican primary candidate for the Senate District 29 seat being vacated by Seth Harp. His news release contained this statement:

“Today represents the start of a new phase in our campaign to bring conservative reform to Atlanta. Over the last 10 months, I’ve been traveling the District and listening to you. Over the next 10 weeks between now and the Republican primary, my campaign will be offering solutions to our problems and outlining in detail my vision for conservative reform at the Capitol.  I am excited to continue to work hard to earn your support to become the next State Senator for District 29.”

I’ll have more on this. Stay tuned.

Josh’s Explanation

July 12, 2009
Not to get too deep into semantics but Bo did win the popular vote in 1966. The Democratic legislature elected the 2nd place finisher. So when I said popularly elected I believe that is accurate, while true that he was never seated as Governor due to the law on the books at the time.

As always, thanks for your fair coverage.




As reported in the previous post, you’ll see that what Josh said in his press release was,  “It is an honor to have the support of the first popularly elected Republican Governor of Georgia after Reconstruction.”  

Bo Callaway Endorses Josh McKoon for Georgia Senate Dist. 29

July 10, 2009

One minor correction, Josh: Bo Callaway was never Governor of Georgia.

Josh McKoon announcing for GA Sen. Dist. 29, Hamilton, GA (Courtesy; Josh McKoon)

Josh McKoon announcing for GA Sen. Dist. 29, Hamilton, GA (Courtesy; Josh McKoon)

  You can understand Josh McKoon’s enthusiasm about getting Bo Callaway’s support.  However,  as distinguished as the former Secretary of the Army’s  career has been, he lost the governor’s race in 1966 to Democrat Lester Maddox in one of the most famous elections in the history of this state.   I covered the election in the Georgia House where it ended up after no one got a majority in the election.  Callaway won a plurality,  but in 1966 that wasn’t good enough.  A lot of the House Democrats would have preferred him over Maddox, but they were not about to put a Republican in the governor’s office. 

Howard "Bo" Callaway, when he was Sec. of the Army (Courtesy: U.S. Army)

Howard "Bo" Callaway, when he was Sec. of the Army (Courtesy: U.S. Army)

Josh’s news release said that he said, “It is an honor to have the support of the first popularly elected Republican Governor of Georgia after Reconstruction.”

He was the first Georgia Republican elected to the United States Congress since reconstruction.  I covered the election in which he beat former Georgia Lt. Governor Garland Byrd for the 3rd Congressional District seat.  Sonny Perdue is the first Republican elected Governor of Georgia since reconstruction.

With Josh’s roster of supporters –  the news release says,  “Howard Hollis ‘Bo’ Callaway joins community leaders such as Sam Rawls of
Knight-Rawls, former AFLAC executive George Jeter, Sheriff Mike Jolley
of Harris County and Synovus Chairman Richard Anthony as part of the
Steering Committee ” – you would  think any potential challenger might just forget it.  Not so.  Attorney Ron Mullins, who is seriously considering a run,  hasn’t been scared off yet.  At least,  not the last time I talked with him about it.

Ron Mullins Confirms He May Run for District 29

July 7, 2009

The Georgia Senate District 29 race just got interesting.  Ron Mullins is seriously considering a run for it, which means Josh McKoon may not waltz in without a fight.  Richard Hyatt’s Columbus reported that a source told Richard that Ron might run. I called Ron.  

Ron Mullins, Columbus attorney

Ron Mullins, Columbus attorney

Both of them are attorneys.  Josh probably does have a name recognition advantage after all of the media attention he got as chair of the Muscogee Republican Party and his involvement with Common Cause Columbus.  However, Ron is also a well known, respected, and articulate attorney, and could offer an alternative choice.

Ron confirmed to me that he is considering the race and that support he has gotten so far has been good.  If he runs, it will be as a Republican. 29 leans heavily Republican.  

Josh made an interesting comment when his campaign announced he has raised almost $45,000 in the 21 days since he announced for the seat Seth Harp is vacating to run for insurance commissioner. He said he was  “blessed that so many friends have confidence in our effort to bring conservative initiatives back to the State Capitol.”  Bring back conservative initiatives?  We’ve had a Republican dominated state capitol for almost 8 years now.  Conservative initiatives have been missing for all of that time?

By the way, Ron, who is a Harris County Native, city attorney for Pine Mountain,  graduate of Harris County High and the University of Georgia,  says he is a conservative.  I was not in the least surprised. Who, running in a district as conservative as the 29th, would run as anything but a conservative?  It seems that just about all Republican primary races boil down to who can convince the voters he or she is the most conservative.

Muscogee Legislators “Tell It Like It IS’

April 8, 2009

The state budget crisis,  the transportation fiasco,  a July session of the Georgia Legislature,  Sen. Harp’s plans to run for statewide office, billboards highlight the town hall meeting at the Columbus Public Library.

Muscogee County legislators made no attempt to sugarcoat what was not a satisfying session of the Georgia Legislature.

Muscogee County democratic Party Town Hall Meeting, Columbus Public Library, Columbus GA

Muscogee County Democratic Party Town Hall Meeting, Columbus Public Library, Columbus GA

Both state senators,  and the dean of the delegation,  all were not happy that the legislature failed to come up with a transportation plan.

Rep. Calvin Smyre, (D), Georgia House

Rep. Calvin Smyre, (D), Georgia House

Rep. Calvin Smyre said,  “It was irresponsible.  It cannot stand. It will not stand.  I am going to make this clear in a news conference Thursday.   It will be addressed this year. ”

He predicted the legislature will be going back into session in three months to deal with the state budget,  and,  he seemed to be saying it will also deal with transportation plan.

“It is wrong for the state to tell the people of Atlanta what they can do with the penny tax they approved at the polls to expand Marta.”

Marta,  the Atlanta area public transit system whose ridership has soared,  cannot access it’s own money to improve and expand the system without the state’s approval.

“That’s wrong.  It has to be changed.”

The audience at the Muscogee County Democratic Party town hall meeting at the Columbus Library applauded enthusiastically.

Sen. Seth Harp, (R), Georgia Senate

Sen. Seth Harp, (R), Georgia Senate

And the Republican state senator who was at the Democratic meeting also got a few big hands, himself.  Sen. Seth Harp, said he would have voted for either of the plans, the one favored by the House or the Senate plan, but he didn’t think either would get taxpayer support.

“They waited too late.  They should have passed it last year. Now, with the recession causing pain in the pocketbook,  it is doubtful that people will vote a penny tax regionally or statewide,” Senator Harp said.  The tax is necessary to fund the plan, which advocates say is urgently needed.  All you have to do is drive to Atlanta to know that the situation is critical.

Sen. Harp might not have pleased his Republican following with one remark he made.  He joined Rep. Smyre in thanking President Obama for sending $1.6 billion in stimulus money to Georgia.  He said with the critical budget problem facing Georgia, the federal money does help. 

“I agree with Calvin.  The legislature will be going back into session in July.  The budget just approved by the legislature banks on the economy getting better. I hope it will, but I am not confident about that.  We will be making more cuts.  For instanceteachers will probably have tobe  furloughed.

“And if we have to do that, say for ten days.  I – and I hope my fellow legislators will join me – will not accept my pay as a senator for those ten days.”

That one elicited a big round of applause. 

Sen. Seth Harp, (R), Sen. Ed Harbison, (D) Georgia State Senate

Sen. Seth Harp, (R), Sen. Ed Harbison, (D) Georgia State Senate

Sen. Harp looked over at Sen. Ed Harbison,  a Democrat,  and said the two of them work together probably better than any two lawmakers in the Senate.  He also let everyone know that he recently learned that he and Harbison served in the same unit in the Vietnam War.  More applause.

Rep. Debbie Buckner, (D), Georgia House

Rep. Debbie Buckner, (D), Georgia House

And Rep.  Debbie Buckner, also a Democrat,  drew a round of applause when she said that, though some things she supported weren’t approved,  the effort that she and other lawmakers to kill the bill that would allow billboard companies to cut more trees on public property was successful.  The crowd like that one, too.

Rep. Carolyn Hugley, (D), Georgia House

Rep. Carolyn Hugley, (D), Georgia House

Rep. Carolyn Hugley was the first to point out that the state is in dire straights over the econ0my and that the cuts that will accompany the budget will cause pain for a lot of people.

When Sen. Harp confirmed he is not running for again for the seat he now holds,  but instead will run for either insurance commissioner and attorney general,  and will make an announcement next week on which one,  Rep. Hugley said, “Oh, go ahead and announce it tonight.”  Sen. Harp said he would wait.

All in all, I have to say I was impressed with the candor of the legislators at the town hall meeting.   They didn’t try to spin the truth about the state of the state or the legislative session that just ended.  The one they predict for  July will, no doubt,  will be a stem-winder.

How SB 164 Gives Billboard Companies More Power to Cut Publically Owned Trees

March 14, 2009

“Either you are unaware or you are deliberately trying to mislead your readers. Billboard companies have the right to cut these trees now,” Anna McLendon wrote in a comment on my post about the latest effort by billboard companies to obtain the right to cut trees on state and local governmental highway rights of way.  She is partially right, certainly, though, not about my deliberately misleading my readers.  I don’t do that.  The  unaware part is the part that’s partially right.  I didn’t know as much about the present law or the one that just passed the Senate as I should have.  She is wrong, however, in that the billboard companies now have the “right” to cut those trees.

In order to correct my shortcoming in understand the two laws,  I called former Columbus mayor and advertising executive Bob Hydrick, who is on the board of    Trees Columbus Inc.  Bob explained it this way:  “What the billboard people have now is the ‘privilege,’  not the ‘right’ to cut trees on public rights of way.  They have to get a permit from the state Department of Transportation commissioner.  If their request meets certain criteria,  he can grant permission to cut the trees,  but he can also deny their request.  The new law, the one passed by the Senate and is now in the House,  gives them the ‘right’ rather than the ‘privilege.’  They won’t have to get a permit from DOT any more.”

Now,  when a billboard company wants to put up a new billboard,  it has to wait five years before it can get a permit to cut vegitation on public property.  Being on private property,  it can put up the billboard,  but it can’t cut trees on public property for five years.  The new law ends that prohibition, also.

Also, Bob told me,  now, they simply cannot cut trees that were planted as part of beautification projects.  The DOT commissioner doesn’t have the authority to give a permit for that.  Under the new law,  that would also change.  They would have the right to cut trees planted as part of beautification projects.   There is a suit against the DOT pending on this one,  filed by  Trees Columbus, Inc., the Gateway Foundation, and the City of Columbus,  concerning the attempted cutting of trees planted as part of beautification projects on I-185 inside the Columbus City Limits.

I hope that clarifies what the Billboard industry is trying to accomplish with the new law, SB 164,  which passed in the Senate and is now in the Georgia House.  You can read the bill by going to this Georgia Senate link.  I haven’t changed my mind about how I feel about the law.  I don’t want beautification projects on public property destroyed to make it easier to see billboards.   I hope you will let your representative in the House know that you do not favor SB 164,  which expands the billboard industry’s power to cut down trees owned by taxpayers.

You can read MS McLendon’s complete comment, as well as those by others, by going to my previous post on the issue, “I Think I Shall Never See a Billboard as Lovely as a Tree.”

It’s up to the Georgia House to Stop Georgia Power’s End Run on Nuclear Reactor Construction

February 15, 2009

  It’s up to the Georgia House to stop Georgia Power’s end run around the state public service commission.  Instead of going the normal route through the commission, Georgia Power wants the legislature to pass a bill requiring rate payers to start paying in advance for two new reactors at Plant Votgle.


Plant Votgle, Courtesy: NRC

Georgia Power got what it wanted in the Georgia Senate Wednesday and now the measure goes to the House.   Let’s hope it is not rushed . This multi-billion dollar deal needs close examination.  

Aalborg, Denmark.

Aalborg, Denmark.

Why all this emphasis on nuclear when wind power costs half as much?  I heard a Georgia Power executive say that wind power is a dubious proposition for Georgia.  Still, Georgia Power has exclusivbe rights to build wind turbines off the Georgia coast, but they haven’t made any move to build any.  Maybe that needs to be changed.  T. Boon Pickens may love the idea of building those turbines.

Then, there is solar.  Georgia Power isn’t keen on that, either, saying the state doesn’t get that much sunlight.  Yeah. Right.   I remember years ago hearing one GP executive jokingly say, “You can’t put a meter on the sun.”

It’s all about money.  Ours. They want it.  Disclosure: the only stock I own is a little Southern Company (I’m mainly a bond investor) so you would have to ask why I would be cautious about Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power making moves to make more money.  Maybe it’s because I pay one heck of a lot more for electricity than I make from Southern Company dividends.  Besides,  there is the common good to consider.   It’s about time we started thinking about that.