SB26 gives firefighters the same protections from disclosure of their home address, telephone number, SSN, insurance, and medical information that Department of Revenue employees, law enforcement officers, judges, scientists in the GBI’s Forensic Sciences division, correctional employees, and prosecutors (and immediate family members of any of the listed) currently have. Sounds like a plan to me!
SB27 is one that upon reading its title, I was against. But upon reading its content, I was convinced to support it. What is this measure? It creates ‘Confederate Heritage/History Month’. Honestly, upon reading its title, I thought it was simply a hick response to Black History Month, and I was going to argue against it because it was race retaliation, plain and simple. But the bill actually makes several valid points, basically that the Civil War had more signficance at a State level than anything short of the American Revolution. Furthermore, it has the following provision:
Nothing in this Code section shall be construed to limit or impair any ability of a department or agency of this state or any county or municipality, local board of education, or other subdivision of this state to adopt and implement reasonable regulations to prevent unlawful speech or expression including, but not limited to, behavior that disrupts or involves substantial disorder or the invasion of the rights of others in events and activities associated with Confederate History and Heritage Month.
Essentially what this provision does is say that you can’t yell racial slurs – hopefully of any variety – in class and claim that you are simply celebrating Confederate History Month. I highly encourage you to read the bill. You might be surprised. I know I was.
SB29 is very similar to SB21, but instead of every state agency it involves GDOT specifically. It also states 10% of the total contracts, not 10% of the total funds. Meaning that the actual monetary value could be much lower – or much higher – than 10% of the total funds. For these reasons and others stated in regards to SB21, I oppose.
SB30 relates to gas supplies and specifically how suppliers and distributors interact involving gas and alcohol blends. Along with defining several terms, it also provides two clauses that are both bad. The first notes that any supplier, regardless of other products offered, must offer to supply each distributor with unblended gasoline. But what if blended is the only form the supplier offers? I guess the General Assembly prefers such a supplier locate to another state. The second clause is also a bad one, as it limits the right of private contract by stating that no supplier shall prevent or inhibit any distributor from also being a blender.
SB31 is the Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act, and may as well have been written by a lobbyist for nuclear power in general or Georgia Power in particular. Jason Pye also has some really good commentary on this bill on his site.
SB32 gives GDOT the responsibility of placing, maitaining, and governing traffic control devices to prevent or reduce the occurrence of traffic stopping on the interstate highways due to congestion at exits during peak traffic hours. It specifically directs GDOT to work with pilot projects to work out the best techniques possible before going full scale, and this is a very good thing. I know this isn’t very interesting from a SWGA perspective, since our interstates don’t typically have this problem. But I’m originally from North GA, and I’ve seen the problem this bill is trying to deal with first hand. My personal opinion is that the best way to alleviate congestion in Atlanta is to move every single government agency that currently has its headquarters there to somewhere else, preferably dispersed to the various Regional Cities – including Albany. Nonetheless, this is a solid attempt to alleviate a real problem, and I commend the State Senators that cosigned this bill. HOWEVER, the bill does have one thing that I question: Why does it specifically single out the intersection of I-20 and Capitol Avenue as one location that must be included in a pilot project? I can personally tell you that there are other locations that are just as bad, if not worse. But guess who uses the I-20/Capitol Ave interchange as their primary conduit to work. If you said ‘anyone who works at the Capitol – including the General Assembly’, you would be dead on. That said, this bill is still a good one, and I support it.
SB33 disqualifies anyone who has not filed all campaign contribution disclosure reports from running for elected public office in this state until the reports are filed and accepted by the reporting officer. I say anyone should be able to run for any office at any time under any Party they so choose. Let their opponents bring up any thing they think the voters might want to know, and let the voters examine each candidate and make their determination as to who is best qualified. Personally, I think the disclosure reports are a good thing as far as transparency in government, but I don’t know how intrusive they are to the candidates and everyone – including elected offficials – has a right to privacy.
SB34 bars any public official and their staffs from using public funds to publish, make, or distribute a newsletter within the month and a half (45 days) preceding an election where said public official is on the ballot. It also prohibits agencies from spending public funds to criticize or endorse a particular political candidate. While I personally see nothing wrong with an official publishing a newsletter within a month and a half of an election – so long as it isn’t a blatant attack ad nor a blatant ‘votre for me’ type scenario -, it is the second clause that warrants my support of this bill. Honestly, this should have been codified into law long ago. There is absolutely no reason for an agency to endorse one candidate or criticize another, particularly if the election involves the agency’s head. Again, it comes back to the various candidates, the news media, and the individual to bring forth any information they deem relevant to the campaign.
SB35 deals with the qualification of candidates for party nomination in a state or county primary, and specifically adds to the form (which I’ve personally seen and isn’t a big deal) that the candidate must affirm under penalty of law that his or her residence is within the district for the office he or she is seeking. I know this has been an issue in the metro Atlanta area recently, and we even have one case in SWGA that I know of where this was an issue (a school board member in Randolph County). While I think it is sad that such a requirement need be added, I think it has become enough of a problem that this measure is warranted. Again, though, it comes down to the other candidates, the newsmedia, and the individual to validate this.
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