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

Gross winner in Reebok Open

Coweta teenager a world-class CrossFitter

Coweta teen Morgan Gross is the top scorer in the world in her division in the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Open. Gross outscored thousands of Cross ... Read More


International literary group tours Moreland

Moreland played host for a group of Australian literary enthusiasts who are currently participating in the Southern Literary Trail. The goal ... Read More


Newnan location highlighted

Genealogical Society holds soft opening in new facility

After weeks of moving, remodeling and organizing, the Coweta County Genealogical Society held its soft opening this week at its new location ... Read More


Newnan Boys and Girls Club has Power of Words

By Wes Mayer wesley@newnan.com Two members of the Newnan Coweta Boys and Girls Club will be heading to Atlanta next week to show off their p ... Read More


First triplets born at new Piedmont

Until Monday, Piedmont Newnan Hospital had yet to see any triplets born at its new facility, which opened in 2012. That all changed when Mar ... Read More

Steakholders restaurant closes doors

Newnan restaurant Steakholders has closed, and its owners say they are thankful for the opportunity they had to serve the community. “ ... Read More