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Senators thanks for nothing ... no seriously ‘Thank You’
Elected by the people, legislators have the obligation to make laws on behalf of its citizens.
While this statement is very true, strangely I have to commend our state senators in Atlanta for not doing anything not just once -- but twice.
Weeks ago Georgia’s Speaker of the House David Ralston said that lawmakers this time around were going to slow down its decision-making – to paraphrase, not make laws just to make laws.
Maybe that sensible logic cropped up on the senate side too.
In this newspaper seven days ago, I penned a column about some horrendous legislation State Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) had introduced. The first was an economic development secrecy bill named SB 159 and the second was SB 249, which would have stripped legals away from community newspapers and then stick those legals solely on a taxpayer-funded web site.
When “Crossover Day” came, neither SB 159 nor SB 249 crossed over to the House for their vote. Thus, the bills are dead – at least at this point in the legislative session.
However, I have to agree with one of my Georgia newspaper colleagues Mike Buffington, of Mainstreet Newspapers in Jefferson: “But this kind of thing will be back; bad ideas never seem to die.”
Although none of us outside the inter-workings of governmental politics really know why the plugs were pulled on SB 159 and SB 249, it stands to reason that people like yourself contacted your State Sen. Jesse Stone, Gov. Nathan Deal’s office, or another elected official in the Capitol to voice a resounding “No” to both of the bills. For that, I thank you and whether or not your neighbors have baked up some of Granny’s famous recipe for apple pie and brought over a wheelbarrow full of them as gratitude, I assure you they are pleased too.
Both of the bills had the power to do some damage to the citizens of Georgia. SB 159 was written in such a way that the public would not have to know if a company – welcomed or unwelcomed – was moving into a community until all the paperwork was signed, sealed and delivered. Would you like to have a landfill as a neighbor? If SB 159 had gotten through, there is a possibility you wouldn’t have known until about the time when you started sniffing some rotten chicken bones.
As for SB 249, Sen. Mullis’ diabolical plan was to take all the legal notices out of the Sylvania Telephone, out of the Clinch County News, out of the Dahlonega Nugget and all of Georgia’s other community newspapers. While that already smells as bad as the aforementioned landfill, Sen. Mullis then wanted all the public notices to be put onto a web site at the expense of the state’s taxpayers.
Sen. Mullis acted oblivious to the fact that the Georgia Press Association already has a free-to-access web site with the state’s legal notices.
With the engraving for the tombstones of SB 159 and SB 249 nearly complete until another lawmaker attempts to bring one or both of them up from the dead like Jason of the Friday the 13th saga, what is there to do now?
My answer: Keep abreast of the latest Capitol wranglings and keep your lawmakers’ contact information close by for quick response to pivotal bills, budget considerations, and possible law amendments.
From time to time, visitors to the Telephone office or those who contact the Telephone via the telephone ask that we provide them with the names; physical and e-mail addresses; and phone numbers for our district’s state and federal lawmakers.
Well I aim to oblige those who have requested and others who may want to know for the sake of knowing.
As part of this column, I have posted the contact information for our elected officials. Please hold onto the legislator listings and tape them up next to your children’s artwork on the refrigerator so you can contact your representatives whenever you deem it necessary.
Yes, it is incredibly important for our lawmakers to hear our opinions on issues like the possibility of the closure of the Georgia Welcome Center located in Screven County; the dynamics raised about the state’s pre-k program when the HOPE funding is reduced; and the relevancy of community collaboratives throughout Georgia when the state budget’s slicing and dicing comes to the forefront.
However, a simple “thank you” letter to the lawmakers for not burying their heads in the sand on topics of grave importance isn’t against the law. An occasional kind word may provide credence that we are not ogres but actually humans who may find the need to spurn off a fiery letter of disgust in response to a lawmaker’s vote on another bill.
If I may borrow the reaction from a local school staffer to the current pre-k program in limbo issue, it may summarize our perspective on what we usually think about the lawmakers’ thought process.
“It is ludicrous. It is crazy. We don’t know what they are doing.”
But, alas, all is not lost.
Remember that maybe no legislative action at all is best. Need I remind you of the vial creatures SB 159 and SB 249?
Use the contact numbers and addresses, but I ask of you to think before you speak. One articulate message carries more weight than millions of crazed ramblings.
Get to know your legislators. They are in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., to represent you.
Enoch Autry is the publisher-editor of the Sylvania Telephone.