Thursday, March 13, 2008

Where I Am Keeping Tabs On My State Legislature

So anyway, yesterday was "crossover" day in the Georgia Legislature, which means any bills that were just sort of loitering around unproductively and otherwise making nuisances of themselves were summarily executed. 1,240 bills were allowed to die (registration required) because they did not get passed in either the Senate or the House.


Granted, some of these were left over from last year's session, this being Year 2 of the 2 year cycle. But considering our legislative season only lasts for 3 months a year, the sheer number seems extreme to me. And those were just the bills allowed to die!

By and large, I see this as a good thing, of course. According to the AJC article referenced above, here are a few of the bills allowed to go to the Big Committee in the Sky:

Health Care

  • HB 973 would have placed a $1 fee on telephone and wireless service bills to fund trauma care.

Local government

  • HB 925 would have allowed the creation of "townships," a form of municipal government. However, a Senate township bill passed the Senate last year and remains alive as a vehicle for compromise. And there's still a lot of time left.

Criminal Justice

  • HB 997 sought to establish protocols for conducting police lineups, to help ensure that eyewitness identifications are more reliable.

Illegal Immigration

  • HR 127 urges Congress to deny automatic citizenship to children born of illegal immigrants.
  • HB 1028 placed a 2 percent fee on wire transfers. Allowed a transfer company to keep 20 percent of that fee to cover their record-keeping costs. Allocates fees collected to be spent on trauma care programs, such as Grady Hospital.
  • HB 971 made it a misdemeanor for an illegal immigrant to drive in Georgia with a license from another state.

Social welfare

  • SR 345 would have made it easier for faith-based organization to obtain taxpayer funding to provide social services.

Jekyll Island

  • Senate Bills 426, 427 and 428 and HB548 would have restricted development on Jekyll Island and barred the construction of new condos.

I mean, honestly. Not one of the 11 bills above would have created a law that would have protected my rights, which is the only thing the government needs to be doing--protecting my rights and yours. ("
The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law."--Ayn Rand)

And I just love how they will add on random taxes to every day business transactions, such as wire transfers and telephone bills in order to fund Grady Hospital, a financially floundering quasi-government institution, the control of which should either be handed over to someone who actually knows something about how to run a huge hospital or just allowed to go out of business.

Oh! But it's the only Level I Trauma Center in the state! Where will the sickest, most emergent patients get care? Do you know why we only have one Level I TC in this state? Because, according to the American College of Surgeons, (emphasis mine): "The designation of trauma facilities is a geopolitical process by which empowered entities, government or otherwise, are authorized to designate." (Aside: what does "geopolitical" actually mean in this context?)

If I wanted to open a hospital with a Level I TC, then I would have to get permission from the state government to be a Level I TC, even if I had the equipment, staff, and ideal location. The state limits this, for no good reason that I can tell (except to keep Grady in business). I would be willing to bet cash money that the vast majority of people are unaware of this Trauma Center designation process. I only learned about it while working on the re-designation process for the Level II Trauma Centers at the children's hospital system, back when I had a different job.

But I digress.

In slightly better legislative news, a bill that would allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays at a sports stadium in Gwinnett County survived crossover day and the bill to allow cities and towns to vote on whether to allow Sunday alcohol sales in general has been tacked onto that bill:

. . . despite opposition from preachers, who told lawmakers that more alcohol would mean more social problems.

I'm sure I need not comment on that statement. What is this, the 1930s?

The legislators are all fighty about this, too, because the person who is sponsoring the original Gwinnett stadium bill doesn't want this tacked on because according to her, the Governor has told her he'd veto the bill if the general Sunday alcohol vote was on there. Someone else called her a hypocrite, because, well, she is. And our Governor stinks.

I have to get ready to go do a few things this morning, so that's it for now. I will check to see which, if any, education/homeschool-related bills made it past crossover day. I'm hoping they are all dead and buried.

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