The Georgia General Assembly will convene next week and it is lining up to be a busy session. With elections over, lawmakers will not be as shy as they were during the 2016 gathering and will dive head first into some possibly contentious issues.
Education reform will be on the mind of Gov. Nathan Deal — and he may still be smarting from the defeat of Amendment 1 and seek revenge on his opponents. However, for all intent, he is on the downhill side of his last term and other lawmakers are lining up hoping to be the next occupant of the office where he now sits.
Another issue is gaming. No, this has nothing to do with hunting or the outdoors or sportsmen — at least not that kind of sportsman. This type of gaming is not done in the wee hours of quiet mornings when it’s still pitch black outside from a deer stand wrapped in camo and smothered in Whitetail Doe Estrous (look it up). This sort of gaming is surrounded by a cacophony of sounds — bells, whistles and ding, ding, dings. There are bright lights all around and the only smells in the air are a mixture of various cuisines, acrid cigarette and cigar smoke, perfumes and colognes. No this type of gaming can be summed up in seven words and it’s not hunting. It is casinos.
Who would have thunk it? Georgia the buckle on the Bible Belt considering gambling casinos? Watch for it. We take no position for or against casinos. We will keep our powder dry until the actual proposals are filed and worked through the sausage grinder of the lawmaking process. Constituents need to keep one thing in mind, get ready to kick the first lawmaker out of Atlanta who states that casinos are the panacea of all the state’s financial ills.
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With all that will be going on during the session, it is somewhat surprising to see that two state lawmakers, state Sen. John Kennedy and Rep. Allen Peake, both area Republicans, can find the time to dabble in an issue so miniscule as the fifth member of the Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections. The board is comprised of two Republicans and two Democrats. The fifth member, supposedly independent, is agreed upon by the majority of the other four members. If they can’t agree, the Macon-Bibb County Commission chooses the fifth member.
Kennedy and Peake want the fifth member chosen by a Superior Court judge rather than the Bibb commission, but they swear it isn’t about politics. Pardon, while we laugh out loud. Carpenters build things. Electricians wire things, seamstresses, sew. Politicians, by their very job descriptions, delve into politics and there is no doubt Peake and Kennedy are seeking a political advantage. That’s what politicians do, be they donkeys or elephants. What should be noted is that the Board of Elections has already considered making this move and it ended in a 2-2 tie, with the two Republican members voting in favor, with the independent and one Democratic member voting against. The other Democratic member was absent.
A local vote is of no concern to state lawmakers. They don’t have to ask. They don’t even have to inform. With control of the Legislature, state Senate and the governor’s seat, all anyone can do who oppose any blessed edict is to make noise.
But citizens need to be aware that everything is political, and just because a Superior Court judge makes the appointment does not make the selection process any less political than if the commission chooses the fifth member. All the judges and the commission members are nonpartisan positions, but just as commission members have certain political leanings, so do judges. Though it has happened, there are only rare occasions when a Georgia governor has appointed a judge known to be a member of the opposite party to a Superior Court bench.
If Kennedy and Peake want to get involved in the elections process maybe they should start by pushing the governor to form a task force to explore the next generation of electronic voting machine. Georgia’s voting machines are going on 15 years old, and while their age is also an asset (machines are not networked or Internet compatible), there are other hardware issues to be addressed. According to www.computerinhumanyears.com a computer put in service in 2002 is, in human years, 278 years old.