Category Archives: Legislation

Like It Or Not, Bobby Franklin Was Right

Per this AJC article, yesterday Bobby Franklin made his yearly hara kiri. As he has done at least one other time since I have been watching, in addition to at least once between 2004 and 2008, he made one of the most dangerous and least successful parliamentary moves available – he challenged the ruling of the Chair (Speaker Ralston).

GPB doesn’t have video archives yet this Session, but here’s what went down, so best as I have determined so far:

Last year, both the House and the Senate passed SB 1, Senator David Shafer’s Zero Based Budget Act. After the Session was over, Governor Perdue vetoed this bill.

Last week, in a VERY rare move, the Senate voted to override that veto, and did so unanimously, 52-0-6. They only needed a 2/3 majority, or 38 votes (there are currently 36 GOP Senators).

That same day, upon learning of the Senate’s veto override, Speaker Ralston let it be known that the House would not take the measure up, but would instead push its own ZBB measure, Rep Steven Allison’s HB 33.

Yesterday, the House got the veto override, and apparently th Speaker assigned it to the Rules Committee. I don’t know exactly what transpired next, but it ended with Rep Franklin making an EXTREMELY politically boneheaded move – the aforementioned challenging of the ruling of the Chair.

Here’s the problem:

Per Article III Section V Section XIII(d) of the Ga Constitution (emphases mine):

During sessions of the General Assembly, any vetoed bill or resolution may upon receipt be immediately considered by the house wherein it originated for the purpose of overriding the veto. If two-thirds of the members to which such house is entitled vote to override the veto of the Governor, the same shall be immediately transmitted to the other house where it shall be immediately considered. Upon the vote to override the veto by two-thirds of the members to which such other house is entitled, such bill or resolution shall become law. All bills and resolutions vetoed during the last three days of the session and not considered for the purpose of overriding the veto and all bills and resolutions vetoed after the General Assembly has adjourned sine die may be considered at the next session of the General Assembly for the purpose of overriding the veto in the manner herein provided. If either house shall fail to override the Governor’s veto, neither house shall again consider such bill or resolution for the purpose of overriding such veto.

In other words, per the Constitution of the State of Georgia, Rep Franklin was absolutely technically correct in challenging the rule of the Chair, if a political idiot.

And the Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives has apparently violated the Constitution of the State of Georgia.

Like it or not, Bobby Franklin was (technically) absolutely correct.

Elections As Fundraisers

Earlier today, the AJC’s James Salzer came out with a report with the headline “GOP ends year with massive cash advantage”.

The report contained this little nugget:

The party reports followed the trend of much of the past decade: the state GOP raises more money and has more money in the bank most years.

Allow me to explain that little nugget, or at least one component of it, and tie it to the title I chose for this post:

I believe most people would agree with me that the GOP has clearly been running a LOT of candidates over the past decade. Indeed, within the past decade, the GOP has taken over the State Senate, the State House, every Statewide Constitutional Office, and – I believe – a majority of partisan local elected offices. You don’t do that without running at least that many candidates, and the GOP has had candidates that have lost their elections, leaving a Democrat in office (or, in rare circumstances this decade, allowing a Democrat to replace the Republican).

Why is this significant?

Because if you dive into Chapter 21 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated and examine Chapter 2, Article 131, you will find that per subsections (b) and (c) of this code section, at least 50% of a candidate’s qualifying fees to right back to the Party they qualified with. In other words, let’s say the filing fee for Governor is $5,000 – which is fairly close. That means that for every Governor candidate that files to run as a Republican, the Republican Party of Georgia gets a $2,500 kickback. Similarly, if the qualifying fee for County Commissioner is $200 (and I have no idea what the fees are at that level, just throwing out a number), for every single candidate that decides to run for County Commission as a Republican, the local Republican Party gets a $100 kickback.

The remaining 50% goes to the appropriate elections supervisor “to be applied to the cost of holding the election”.

Right now we’re under a MASSIVE budget crunch – $1.2 BILLION, at a low end, at the State level alone. And yet we allow the political parties of this State to treat something so important as an election as nothing more than a fundraiser for themselves, even though it is costing both State and local offices MILLIONS of dollars to run these elections?

My friends, this should not be!

I have written this bill in an attempt to correct this wrong. You’ll notice that ALL this bill does is direct that 100% of the filing fees paid by candidates go to the appropriate elections supervisor to pay for the cost of the election. This means that when this bill passes, two things will happen:

1) Elections supervisors – including the Secretary of State’s office – will have twice as much money coming in from candidate filing fees, which means their budgets can be reduced by a corresponding amount from the general budgets of the appropriate governing body. This will save the State at LEAST $50,000 every four years in Statewide candidate filing fees alone – and that is assuming that only one Party submits a candidate in each of those ten races. A more likely number for Secretary of State’s office savings can be conservatively calculated as follows:

There are 238 members of the General Assembly, each with a 2 year term and a $400 filing fee. This means $800 over 4 years, and even assuming that every single candidate runs unopposed, that is $800 x 238 = $190,400.

A conservative estimate for the average Statewide office filing fee is $2,500. There are the following offices: 5 PSC Commissioners, Governor, Lt Governor, Secretary of State, Superintendent of Schools, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, Agriculture Commissioner, Labor Commissioner. 13 x $2500 = $32,500

I’m not sure how US Congress/US Senate races fit in here, so for a conservative estimate I will not include them.

Even without DC-based elected offices, we have a conservative estimate of $222,900 over 4 years, or $55,725 per year – and remember, this is double the current amount.

2) No longer could political parties use the single most important aspect of being an American citizen as a fundraiser to further their own private agendas. No longer would a candidate running on a platform of reforming his Party be forced to pay a kickback to the very Establishment he is seeking to overturn. No longer would a Party be tainted by accepting the money of a candidate it didn’t really like to begin with.

No longer would our elections be sold.

Roosters in Subdivisions? Say It Aint So!

Lately, some “liberty” (I use the term loosely here) activists have gotten it into their heads that local governments are trying to persecute them.

How?

By saying “no” to roosters in subdivisions.

So they had their go-to boy, State Rep Bobby Franklin, introduce a bill that would preempt local control on this issue and mandate that no local government could prohibit gardening nor the keeping of chickens, goats, or rabbits – and nor could they require a permit for these activities.
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Open Letter to Members of House Government Affairs Elections Subcommittee

Dear Rep,

I know with the session starting back in full swing today, you really don’t have time to read a lot of emails, so I’ll make this short.

Please vote for favorable passage of Rep Reese’s HB 1141 in the Elections subcommittee meeting today.

I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but right now anyone who seeks to run for a statewide office under any banner other than Democrat/Republican/Libertarian must collect signatures from 5% of the registered voters in the state -roughly 50,000 signatures- on a nomination petition, just to be allowed to be on the ballot. This is in addition to the same filing fee D/R/L candidates pay. This represents an undue burden that has RARELY – if ever – been met. Rep Reese’s proposal changes this requirement to the lesser of 5% or 5,000.
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Equal Ballot Access: Three Proposals

Over the summer, I took two issues to heart and have begun working on talking to various members of the General Assembly and the public about them. Those two issues were Georgia’s ballot access laws and daytime meetings by local governing bodies.

I have my own ideas on each of these subjects, but this post is specifically directed at the ballot access laws.

My friend, Jason Pye, has his own bill proposal that basically lowers the petition requirement from 5% of the registered voters in the district to one percent of the registered voters. It also has provisions so that even that lowered number can be further reduced or waived if certain conditions are met.

My ideas all center around a different tack to solving this problem: Whereas Jason strikes at petition requirements, I strike at the very distinctions between political ‘party’, ‘body’, and ‘organization’. I also offer a very mild, pragmatic bill that I like better than current law, but is still far from what I would actually like to see.
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