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Lawmakers return to Atlanta for 2013 session

Posted: January 13, 2013 - 12:00am

The circus returns to Atlanta when Georgia’s legislators convene the 2013 session of the General Assembly on Monday, Jan. 14.

You can expect some fussing and fighting among the members of the Senate and House of Representatives, but it will seem very low-key when compared to the war being fought in Washington.

There is a good reason for that. There’s a real two-party system at work in Congress.

In Georgia, we’ve traditionally operated through a one-party system of politics. For a long time it was controlled by the Democratic Party, but for the last decade the Republicans have been in charge.

With that kind of control, it’s only natural that things could run more smoothly.

It should be a quieter session for sure in the Georgia Senate, which was divided by an ugly power struggle for the past two years between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and a dissident faction headed by President Pro Tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, and Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock.

Williams stepped down from the pro tem post and Rogers left the Senate entirely to accept a state job. Cagle should regain some of the power he lost the past two years and preside over a more united Senate.

There will be concerns over the state budget, but in the end the Legislature will work it out.

You’ll hear a lot of talk about the need to clean up legislative ethics by putting a limit on the amount of money lobbyists can spend on free meals and drinks for lawmakers, but it’s hard to believe legislators are going to derail that gravy train.

Immigration has sparked a lot of debate over the past few years, but that one may recede. If anything, legislators could pull back on the provision that requires professionals to submit documentation proving their citizenship when they renew their licenses.

Bills have been introduced to roll back that part of the law so that once you’ve documented your citizenship, you don’t have to again prove it when you renew your business license.

If there are any loud arguments in this session, they likely will involve the extension of a Medicaid provider fee that the state’s hospitals have paid since 2010.

If that fee – also known as a bed tax – is not renewed, it will blow a $400 million hole in a Medicaid program that is already facing financial problems.

Some of the more conservative lawmakers might try to pass a “personhood” amendment, a favorite tactic of activists who want to make abortions illegal.

House Speaker David Ralston has been sending signals that he doesn’t want to deal with such social issues this year. That’s one more reason to think this will be a relatively quiet session for lawmakers.

(Tom Crawford is editor of The Georgia Report, an Internet news service at gareport.com.)

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Comments (1)

soapy_725

What will them legislate this year?

More taxes of course. They have a one track mind. Centralized government can do one thing well. Collect taxes for the king. The king needs you money for land and power and he sends the sheriff to collect your money for his coffers. So the king can build palaces, cathedrals and fortifications. This hasn't changed since mankind had kings. It is in the Bible. We should not be surprised at the cost of government. Almighty God told Israel just what having an earthly king would mean for them and their children.

This ain't rocket science. And it ain't new. We still have a king, princes/princesses, a kings army, a high sheriff, poor peasants and taxes. And we have Pharisees who feed and are feed from this system.