State Senate Bills I Find Interesting (SB132 – SB141)

Conclusions:

SB132: OPPOSE
SB133: OPPOSE
SB134: OPPOSE
SB135: OPPOSE
SB136: OPPOSE
SB137: OPPOSE
SB138: OPPOSE
SB139: OPPOSE
SB140: OPPOSE
SB141: SUPPORT

SB132 is known as the ‘Dropout Prevention Act’ and is cosponsored by SWGA’s Sen. Freddie Powell-Sims (D-Albany). However, the bill is disingenuous in that it does NOTHING to prevent dropouts – only delay them. You see, all this bill does is make the ages of mandatory schooling go from 6 – 17 as opposed to 6 – 16 as in current law. Nothing is done to address ANY of the reasons kids drop out, it only forces them – and everyone around them, including their teachers and classmates – to be miserable for an extra year. Because it does nothing to actually prevent dropouts (which is indeed a problem created by the very government that now tries to fix it), I OPPOSE this measure.

SB132: OPPOSE

SB133 is cosponsored by SWGA’s Sen. George Hooks (D-Americus), but is a health-care related bill that I don’t fully understand. It appears to allow payments to be made to a health care provider for volunteers at medical facilities, but I could be wrong here. Assuming I am correct though, this would allow people to ‘volunteer’ for one doc in exchange for that doc paying their medical bills at another doc – which would make them more of an employee rather than a volunteer, they simply wouldn’t be exchanging services rendered for direct payment. This would then allow these ‘volunteers’ to circumvent IRS regulations regarding income. But surely this can’t be right, can it? Seriously, if someone can please clue me in here, I’d be much obliged. Until that time, however, I MUST OPPOSE this bill on the grounds that it grants special privileges to a select few, thus codifying government discrimination.

SB133: OPPOSE

SB134 is not going to get a single kind word from me. It is a completely asinine, unconstitutional attempt to do away with the Electoral College and implement a National Popular Vote. In addition to its flat out unconstitutional nature, it would also force the state election certifying officer (the Secretary of State here in GA) to grant the state’s electors to the winner of the national popular vote, regardless of whether that candidate was the most popular candidate in Georgia. In other words, in a very real sense it would disenfranchise Georgia voters. Because of this and its unconstitutional nature, I must most strenuously OPPOSE.

SB134: OPPOSE

SB135 is another insurance bill, but this one’s summary says it applies strictly to religious non-profit organizations. I’m going to make the social conservatives mad at me again and OPPOSE this on the grounds that if it can apply to religious non-profits, it should be available for ALL non-profits. Because it violates equal protection, I OPPOSE this bill.

SB135: OPPOSE

SB136 relates to illegal immigrants in prison and appears to say basically that the Department of Corrections should check the citizenship of every prisoner, and those who are found to be illegal immigrants can be paroled pending deportation after 50 percent of their sentence has been served. Those subject to these conditions would be given written notification that if they are caught in this country after being sent home, they will be subject to arrest and completion of their sentence wherever they were in prison. I am going to OPPOSE this on the grounds that it is the National government’s duty to secure the borders and enforce immigration law – not the State’s.

SB136: OPPOSE

SB137 is the first of the Democratic leadership’s military and veterans bills that I’ve heard so much about this week while watching the Senate live feed. (GPB has archive footage of these feeds here.) While I agree that military families have to move around a lot and this is often a difficult process, I must OPPOSE this bill on the grounds that it strips too much power from the hands of the Legislature elected by the people of Georgia, placing this power in the hands of the people of other States.

SB137: OPPOSE

SB138 is called the ‘Transparency in Lawsuits Protection Act’, but appears to be a bit disingenuous. The way I read it – and it is a short bill, literally one sentence of actual law – it seems to be codifying a stance of ‘do as I say, not as I do’ in the State’s relation to the People. Basically saying ‘You can’t do this unless we explicitly tell you that you can, even though we are allowing ourselves to do it.’. Because it is the People that are supposed to have more rights than the State – not the other way around, as in this bill – I must OPPOSE this measure.

SB138: OPPOSE

SB139 deals with property law and mortgages, but since I’ve never owned a house – my wife bought the house I live in now long before I met her – I’m really not too sure what this is saying. Because my default position when unsure about something is to OPPOSE the bill until further educated, I must OPPOSE this bill.

SB139: OPPOSE

SB140 is another property bill, but I think I have a decent understanding of this one. It basically says that if you are renting a house and the house is foreclosed against your landlord – in other words, he was taking your money but not paying the mortgage – you can stay in the house for up to two months so long as you pay your rent to the court. The money you paid the court would then go to whoever bought the house after the foreclosure, once the court is notified of the sale. While I really do feel sorry for people that find themselves in this situation, I must OPPOSE this bill as unnecessary government intrusion into private contract.

SB140: OPPOSE

SB141 is another property bill, but this one is more of a procedural bill than the previous two. Basically, this one establishes escalating late fees for filing documents related to selling of deeds under power. More than one month but less than two months late would be a $250 fee, while between 2 and 3 months late results in a $500 charge, and more than three months late is a $7,500 charge. Was that a typo or did Sen. Hamrick, the sponsor of this bill, REALLY want you to file those documents within 90 days? Regardless, I think it appropriate to enforce standards, and a hit to the pocketbook is a pretty good lesson for the average person. I’m pretty certain that a normal person would make sure they filed within 90 days after they had to pay that $7,500 fine one time. The fine, by the way, goes to the most local unit of government where the property is located – the city if within city limits, the county otherwise. As I’ve indicated, I think this is a solid bill and I will SUPPORT it.

SB141: SUPPORT

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12 Responses

  1. You say that the National Popular Vote law is unconstitutional, but, tellingly, fail to quote any particular section of the Constitution that is allegedly violated.

    In fact, the U.S. Constitution says “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors.” The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly characterized the authority of the states over the manner of awarding their electoral votes as “plenary” and “exclusive.”

    The constitutional wording does not encourage, discourage, require, or prohibit the use of any particular method for awarding the state’s electoral votes.

    There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that needs to be changed in order to have a national popular vote for President. The winner-take-all rule (awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate who gets the most votes inside the state) is not in the U.S. Constitution. It is strictly a matter of state law. The winner-take-all rule was not the choice of the Founding Fathers, as indicated by the fact that the winner-take-all rule was used by only 3 states in the nation’s first presidential election in 1789. The fact that Maine and Nebraska currently award electoral votes by congressional district is a reminder that the Constitution left the matter of awarding electoral votes to the states. A federal constitutional amendment is not needed to change state laws.

  2. The major shortcoming of the current system of electing the President is that presidential candidates concentrate their attention on a handful of closely divided “battleground” states. Georgia is not a battleground state. 98% of the 2008 campaign events involving a presidential or vice-presidential candidate occurred in just 15 closely divided “battleground” states. Over half (57%) of the events were in just four states (Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia). Similarly, 98% of ad spending took place in these 15 “battleground” states. Similarly, in 2004, candidates concentrated over two-thirds of their money and campaign visits in five states and over 99% of their money in 16 states. Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential elections. Candidates have no reason to poll, visit, advertise, organize, campaign, or worry about the voter concerns in states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. The reason for this is the winner-take-all rule enacted by 48 states, under which all of a state’s electoral votes are awarded to the candidate who gets the most votes in each separate state.

    Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide. This has occurred in one of every 14 presidential elections.

    In the past six decades, there have been six presidential elections in which a shift of a relatively small number of votes in one or two states would have elected (and, of course, in 2000, did elect) a presidential candidate who lost the popular vote nationwide.

  3. The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections.

    The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    The Constitution gives every state the power to allocate its electoral votes for president, as well as to change state law on how those votes are awarded.

    The bill is currently endorsed by 1,246 state legislators — 460 sponsors (in 48 states) and an additional 786 legislators who have cast recorded votes in favor of the bill.

    The National Popular Vote bill has been endorsed by the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, Miami Herald, Sarasota Herald Tribune, Sacramento Bee, The Tennessean, Fayetteville Observer, Anderson Herald Bulletin, Wichita Falls Times, The Columbian, and other newspapers. The bill has been endorsed by Common Cause, Fair Vote, and numerous other organizations.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. This national result is similar to recent polls in Arkansas (80%), California (70%), Colorado (68%), Connecticut (73%), Delaware (75%), Kentucky (80%), Maine (71%), Massachusetts (73%), Michigan (73%), Mississippi (77%), Missouri (70%), New Hampshire (69%), Nebraska (74%), Nevada (72%), New Mexico (76%), New York (79%), North Carolina (74%), Ohio (70%), Pennsylvania (78%), Rhode Island (74%), Vermont (75%), Virginia (74%), Washington (77%), and Wisconsin (71%).

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 22 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes — 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

  4. The intent of the Founding Fathers was clear – neither no particular state nor no particular geographical area should be allowed to control the National government. This is the reason for a bi-cameral legislative body where in one chamber representation is based on population and in the other chamber it is based on every State being equal.

    National Popular Vote violates this principle by basically telling people in less populous states that their vote does not matter. It also violates the will of the peoples of the individual States by forcing their electoral votes to go to (potentially) the candidate that was actually the LEAST popular in that particular State.

    A better option – and one that I could possibly support on the National level, if not the State level – would be that each State have a ‘State Popular Vote’, where the State’s electors go to the candidate most popular in the State, but only each State only has a single vote in the Electoral College. In the event of a 25/25 split, tiebreaker could then go to the winner of the National Popular Vote. But that would ONLY be in the case of an even split among the States.

    In this way, you are maintaining the intent of the Founders in a way that fixes what even I acknowledge is a broken system.

    I simply hold that a straight ‘National Popular Vote’ is the wrong option.

  5. Even under NPV, this scenario remains. The Candidates would hit the states with the highest population and ignore the states with less people. Why bother with them when if you win enough people in other states, you don’t need them?

    Here in GA, we see this worked out in nearly every state wide election. Because metro Atlanta has roughly 55% of the state’s population, meaning that if you run well in Atlanta, you don’t need to do very much at all in the rest of the State. This is particularly true in the Republican primaries, where right now if you win 75% of one half of a single county – specifically, North Fulton – you only have to get something like 15% in the entire rest of the state to win the nomination.

    No, a better solution is the one I mentioned in my response to your first comment: Each State gets a single vote in the EC. In the event of a 25/25 tie, the NPV total can be the tiebreaker.

  6. Just because something is popular does not make it a good thing. The EC needs to be fixed, I’ll grant you that much. But NPV is NOT a solution and will actually cause more problems than the EC.

  7. The 11 most populous states contain 56% of the population of the United States and that a candidate would win the Presidency if 100% of the voters in these 11 states voted for one candidate. However, if anyone is concerned about the this theoretical possibility, it should be pointed out that, under the current system, a candidate could win the Presidency by winning a mere 51% of the vote in these same 11 states — that is, a mere 26% of the nation’s votes.

    Of course, the political reality is that the 11 largest states rarely act in concert on any political question. In terms of recent presidential elections, the 11 largest states include five “red” states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia) and six “blue” states (California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New Jersey). The fact is that the big states are just about as closely divided as the rest of the country. For example, among the four largest states, the two largest Republican states (Texas and Florida) generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Bush, while the two largest Democratic states generated a total margin of 2.1 million votes for Kerry.

    Moreover, the notion that any candidate could win 100% of the vote in one group of states and 0% in another group of states is far-fetched. Indeed, among the 11 most populous states, the highest levels of popular support were found in the following seven non-battleground states:
    ● Texas (62% Republican),
    ● New York (59% Democratic),
    ● Georgia (58% Republican),
    ● North Carolina (56% Republican),
    ● Illinois (55% Democratic),
    ● California (55% Democratic), and
    ● New Jersey (53% Democratic).

    In addition, the margins generated by the nation’s largest states are hardly overwhelming in relation to the 122,000,000 votes cast nationally. Among the 11 most populous states, the highest margins were the following seven non-battleground states:
    ● Texas — 1,691,267 Republican
    ● New York — 1,192,436 Democratic
    ● Georgia — 544,634 Republican
    ● North Carolina — 426,778 Republican
    ● Illinois — 513,342 Democratic
    ● California — 1,023,560 Democratic
    ● New Jersey — 211,826 Democratic

    To put these numbers in perspective, Oklahoma (7 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 455,000 votes for Bush in 2004 — larger than the margin generated by the 9th and 10th largest states, namely New Jersey and North Carolina (each with 15 electoral votes). Utah (5 electoral votes) alone generated a margin of 385,000 votes for Bush in 2004.

  8. When presidential candidates campaign to win the electoral votes of closely divided battleground states, such as in Ohio and Florida, the big cities in those battleground states do not receive all the attention, much less control the outcome. Cleveland and Miami certainly did not receive all the attention or control the outcome in Ohio and Florida in 2000 and 2004.

    Under a national popular vote, every vote is equally important politically. There is nothing special about a vote cast in a big city. When every vote is equal, candidates of both parties know that they must seek out voters in small, medium, and large towns throughout the state in order to win the state. A vote cast in a big city is no more valuable than a vote cast in a small town or rural area.

    Another way to look at this is that there are approximately 300 million Americans. The population of the top five cities (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia) is only 6% of the population of the United States and the population of the top 50 cities is only 19% of the population of the United States. Even if one makes the far-fetched assumption that a candidate won 100% of the votes in the nation’s top five cities, he would only have won 6% of the national vote.

    Further evidence of the way a nationwide presidential campaign would be run comes from the way that national advertisers conduct nationwide sales campaigns. National advertisers seek out customers in small, medium, and large towns of every small, medium, and large state. National advertisers do not advertise only in big cities. Instead, they go after every single possible customer, regardless of where the customer is located. National advertisers do not write off Indiana or Illinois merely because their competitor has an 8% lead in sales in those states. And, a national advertiser with an 8%-edge over its competitor does not stop trying to make additional sales in Indiana or Illinois merely because they are in the lead.

  9. The small states are the most disadvantaged of all under the current system of electing the President. Political clout comes from being a closely divided battleground state, not the two-vote bonus.

    Small states are almost invariably non-competitive in presidential election. Only 1 of the 13 smallest states are battleground states (and only 5 of the 25 smallest states are battlegrounds).

    Of the 13 smallest states, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Alaska regularly vote Republican, and Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, Vermont, Maine, and DC regularly vote Democratic. These 12 states together contain 11 million people. Because of the two electoral-vote bonus that each state receives, the 12 non-competitive small states have 40 electoral votes. However, the two-vote bonus is an entirely illusory advantage to the small states. Ohio has 11 million people and has “only” 20 electoral votes. As we all know, the 11 million people in Ohio are the center of attention in presidential campaigns, while the 11 million people in the 12 non-competitive small states are utterly irrelevant. Nationwide election of the President would make each of the voters in the 12 smallest states as important as an Ohio voter.

    The fact that the bonus of two electoral votes is an illusory benefit to the small states has been widely recognized by the small states for some time. In 1966, Delaware led a group of 12 predominantly low-population states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kentucky, Florida, Pennsylvania) in suing New York in the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that New York’s use of the winner-take-all effectively disenfranchised voters in their states. The Court declined to hear the case (presumably because of the well-established constitutional provision that the manner of awarding electoral votes is exclusively a state decision). Ironically, defendant New York is no longer a battleground state (as it was in the 1960s) and today suffers the very same disenfranchisement as the 12 non-competitive low-population states. A vote in New York is, today, equal to a vote in Wyoming–both are equally worthless and irrelevant in presidential elections.

    The concept of a national popular vote for President is far from being politically “radioactive” in small states, because the small states recognize they are the most disadvantaged group of states under the current system.

    The National Popular Vote bill already has been approved by a total of seven state legislative chambers in small states, including one house in Maine and both houses in Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It has been enacted by Hawaii.

  10. Evidence as to how a nationwide presidential campaign would be run can be found by examining the way presidential candidates currently campaign inside battleground states. Inside Ohio or Florida, the big cities do not receive all the attention. And, the cities of Ohio and Florida certainly do not control the outcome in those states. Because every vote is equal inside Ohio or Florida, presidential candidates avidly seek out voters in small, medium, and large towns. The itineraries of presidential candidates in battleground states (and their allocation of other campaign resources in battleground states) reflect the political reality that every gubernatorial or senatorial candidate in Ohio and Florida already knows–namely that when every vote is equal, the campaign must be run in every part of the state.

    Further evidence of the way a nationwide presidential campaign would be run comes from national advertisers who seek out customers in small, medium, and large towns of every small, medium, and large state. A national advertiser does not write off Indiana or Illinois merely because a competitor makes more sales in those particular states. Moreover, a national advertiser enjoying an edge over its competitors in Indiana or Illinois does not stop trying to make additional sales in those states. National advertisers go after every single possible customer, regardless of where the customer is located.

  11. […] SB132: OPPOSE SB133: OPPOSE SB134: OPPOSE SB135: OPPOSE SB136: OPPOSE SB137: OPPOSE SB138: OPPOSE SB139: OPPOSE SB140: OPPOSE SB141: SUPPORT SB132 is known as the ‘Dropout Prevention Act’ and is cosponsored by SWGA’s Sen. Freddie Powell-Sims (D-Albany). However, the bill is disingenuous in that it does NOTHING to prevent dropouts – only delay them. You see, all this bill does is make the ages of mandatory schooling go from 6 – 17 as opposed to 6 – 16 as in current law. Nothing is done to address ANY of the reasons kids drop out, it only forces them – and everyone around them, including their teachers and classmates – to be miserable for an extra year. Because it does nothing to actually prevent dropouts (which is indeed a problem created by the very government that now tries to fix it), I OPPOSE this measure. […]

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