Legislature opens with a Senate fight over power, ethics

By Walter C. Jones
Morris News Service
ATLANTA – Monday’s opening of the 2013 legislative session sparked the first hot debate moments after the ceremonial swearing-in as the Senate adopted a set of rules that empowers the lieutenant governor and bans gifts above $100.
Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, offered an amendment to strip Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s ability to appoint senators to committees and decide which committees consider bills. Crane was blocked when the Senate voted to prohibit any changes to the proposed rules, which eventually passed 42-12.
“This may be the end of my political aspirations, but I will never stop fighting for liberty,” thundered Crane, who speculated afterward that Cagle would assign him to insignificant committees and stifle consideration of his bills as punishment.
Sen. Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, warned that giving the power to Cagle was unconstitutional since the lieutenant governor is a member of the executive branch.
“Don’t give one person absolute power, even if you think he’s a good person,” said Williams, who had led a group of senators two years ago in taking the power away from Cagle and giving it to a committee of eight senators.
Cagle, meeting with reporters afterward, would say only that he’s looking forward to a successful session and stressing the significance of the prohibition on gifts from lobbyists.
“I think it sends a strong message to the citizens of Georgia that the Senate is serious about its ethics and the accountability that comes with it,” he said.
House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, dismissed the Senate gift rule as a publicity stunt.
“If they want to call that real reform, I’ve got some oceanfront property in a place called Blue Ridge I’ll be glad to take them this afternoon to sell them,” he said.
The speaker renewed his commitment to introduce a House bill that outlaws all gifts on all legislators. He also said he still believes such a ban is unnecessary as long as the gifts are disclosed in government reports but that he’s supporting the bill because the voters demonstrated in the July straw poll that they want it.
Ralston and House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, R-Milton, were re-elected without Democratic opposition while the Senate Republicans were fighting among themselves.


More Local

Four arrested for using fake $100 bills

Four men are possibly facing federal charges after attempting to use counterfeit $100 bills at The Home Depot on 1100 Bullsboro Drive. Robe ... Read More


Rape trial resumes today

The fate of accused rapist Benjamin Gray will be in the hands of the jury today. Closing arguments in the sleepwalking rape trial are schedu ... Read More


Perdue kicks off last leg of campaign

U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue kicked off a jog across the state at Redneck Gourmet in downtown Newnan on Thursday. The campaign is head ... Read More


Perdue: broad energy policy needed

Campaigning in Newnan on Thursday, U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue said the nation needs a broad energy policy – one that includes ... Read More


Passenger injured in 2-car wreck on Hwy. 29

A Newnan man was seriously injured in a crash Thursday at Hwy. 29 and Weldon Road. James Hand was taken to Atlanta Medical Center by Coweta ... Read More

County delays retirement plan changes

A decision on an amendment to the retirement plan for county employees that would allow employees to participate in both the old pension pla ... Read More