clear
Sunday August 2nd, 2015 4:23AM

Curb sought on last-minute lawmaking in Georgia

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) A state senator has proposed curbing last-minute chaos at the end of Georgia's legislative session by giving lawmakers at least one day to read a bill before voting on it.

Stunning last-minute changes some accidental, some downright devious are common when the clock winds down to midnight the last day. By law, state lawmakers meet for just 40 working days. Any bill that does not pass by midnight of the final day automatically fails for the year. It creates a mad scramble on the final day that is ripe for mistakes and manipulation.

In 2012, a small committee turned an innocuous hunting and fishing bill into an attack on disclosure requirements at the state's ethics watchdog agency. It sailed through the Senate before House lawmakers realized what happened and voted it down. Last year, a last-minute version of a bill setting spending limits for lobbyists likely created major loopholes for attorneys and the state's university system, a major spender.

``It winds up producing bad public policy,'' said state Sen. Joshua McKoon, R-Columbus. ``And I think the best way to solve that is to introduce some sunshine into the equation.''

McKoon said he is considering two methods for changing the rules. He could introduce a resolution to formally change the Senate's standing rules. Right now, those rules require that Senate lawmakers get at least one hour on the final day to review conference committee legislation before voting. Conference committees negotiate compromises when House lawmakers adopt one version of a bill and the Senate adopts another. Another possibility would be introducing an amendment to revise the state's constitution. Either step would require a two-thirds vote.

Lawmakers could still skirt the proposed Senate rule. For example, the Senate can vote to suspend its own rules, though it requires at least a brief debate and a public vote. McKoon said he believed the threat of bad publicity would deter lawmakers from dumbing down such a rule.

``You've got an opportunity where people are going to be up on that board for or against transparent government,'' McKoon said, referring to a large board that tracks each senator's vote. ``I think you'd only see that in very extraordinary cases.''

It remains unclear whether the proposal will find much support from Republican leaders. The Senate Rules Committee recently rejected McKoon's proposal to post notice of all conference committee meetings before they happen and record them.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the Senate, declined through a spokesman to say whether he supported the idea. House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said he not yet considered the plan. Though in the minority, Senate Democrats are open to it.

Sen. Steve Henson, D-Tucker, said he sat on a conference committee years ago that backed a change with the unintentional effect of banning nurses from giving shots. He said it was later fixed.

"No one knew they had done it until the bill passed and became law," Henson said.
© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 7 months ago )
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 7 months ago )
Sheriff: Man shot 2 on I-85 because he wanted car
A 22-year-old man shot two people who stopped to give him a ride on Interstate 85 in South Carolina on Christmas Eve because he wanted their car to drive to Georgia, a sheriff said Wednesday.
5:21PM ( 7 months ago )
Local/State News
Committee leaves transportation funding to lawmakers
Georgia will have to cover a $1 billion to $1.5 billion transportation funding gap to stay economically competitive, a committee of lawmakers is warning in a report issued Tuesday.
5:36AM ( 7 months ago )
US off war footing at year's end, but wars go on
Taking America off a permanent war footing is proving harder than President Barack Obama may have suggested.
6:13PM ( 7 months ago )
Politics
Back to school for most students across NE Ga. this week
Most students in the Gainesville area will be heading back to school next week although those in one school district got the jump on things by returning to class Friday.
12:02AM ( 4 hours ago )
Atlanta airport again leads in number of guns found in bags
Atlanta's airport once again leads the nation in the number of guns found in carry-on bags.
By The Associated Press
6:49PM ( 9 hours ago )
Confederate flag support rally held at Stone Mountain Park
Hundreds of people gathered at Stone Mountain Park, just outside Atlanta, to rally in support of the Confederate battle flag.
By Associated Press
4:00PM ( 12 hours ago )
Film crew shoots Dare Stones docu-drama at Brenau
A local legend is returning to the small screen while a film crew shoots a docu-drama about the Dare Stones on the Brenau University campus.
1:46PM ( 14 hours ago )
GMRC Workforce Development Center career coach to visit Hall, Forsyth counties in August
A "mobile career coach" will be on hand at several locations in Hall and Forsyth counties in August to help anyone looking for a job.
By AccessWDUN Staff
11:28AM ( 16 hours ago )