Everyone has made a big deal, this paper included, of state Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans, being named chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Nearly as important is the announcement that two other members of Columbia County's delegation got committee assignments that are nearly as big.
State Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, has been named to the Rules Committee; state Rep. Sue Burmeister, R-Augusta (whose district includes the eastern tip of Columbia County) has been named its vice-chairman.
Sure, most eyes glaze over at this stuff, mine included. But here's how a columnist in the Atlanta paper describes the rules committee:
"Under Republican management, the House rules committee has become the most powerful sub-set of lawmakers in the Capitol. It will determine what bills are allowed on the House floor, as the panel has in the past.
"But now the committee will also determine whether any bill can be amended -- thus controlling the content of floor debate on the House. By also setting the length of debate -- another new power -- the committee will have even more control over what's said in public."
The Rules Committee always has been strong, with Appropriations a close second. Appropriations sets the budget, which determines how state government is funded -- or not. But Rules determines how everything, including the budget, moves through the House -- or doesn't.
The Republican takeover of Georgia's government and the capture of leadership positions (along with state Sen. Jim Whitehead's appointment as vice-chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee) is like a long-time employee being promoted to boss. There is suddenly a lot of power available, but no one else to blame for how it's used - or misused.
In the past, Columbia County's delegation, as minority members, could blame the all-powerful Democrat majority for any roadblocks. If there was something they didn't want to do, they could just say those darn Democrats prevented it.
Now, not only are the Republicans in charge of everything, but Burmiester, Harbin, Fleming and Whitehead are in leadership roles. If Columbia County doesn't get something, these four can't blame anyone else.
Sometimes a parent can get away with telling a child, "You can't wear that because the school dress code won't allow it." With our delegation's new-found power, they'll have to learn to say, "Because we said so."
Many thanks to smart readers who cracked the mystery of the word "cinnercuak," passed along by a puzzled friend who'd found it in a 1922 property deed.
It turns out the word is "commercial," typed on a keyboard with the right hand incorrectly resting one key to the left.
David Minor of Martinez (see today's letter to the editor) figured it out, as did Todd Glover, Columbia County's director of management services.
Remind me never to challenge these guys to a game of "Jeopardy."
The family of former Columbia County Chamber of Commerce office manager Stephanie Hackett says she's a little better.
She's still under hospice care for cancer, but has shown miraculous improvement lately, even walking around some.
The family's medical fund -- needed now more than ever, with a new round of insurance deductibles hitting at the first of the year -- is open for donations at the Regions Bank on Furys Ferry Road.
Prayers can be offered anywhere, anytime, and are greatly appreciated -- and obviously are effective.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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