Political Notes: April 2012
A new director for the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, recommendations from the Election Advisory Council and applause for the No Child Left Behind waiver.
New Director: Laura Meadows
Meadows Appointment: Laura Meadows has been named director of the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, having served since July as interim director.
Meadows, a former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Com-munity Affairs and former assistant secretary of state for the State of Georgia, joined the Vinson Institute in 2009 as associate director of the training division, which works with state and local government officials and staff.
In announcing the appointment, UGA Vice President for Public Service and Outreach Jennifer Frum praised Meadows’ leadership and experience.
Answers & Questions: Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s Election Advis-ory Council came up with a final re-port and recommendations (sos.ga.gov/ GAEAC) that that the General Assembly amend the process by which independent and “political body” candidates can qualify to be on the ballot and permit county election offices to store records electronically.
The council also recommends several items for consideration by a General Assembly legislative committee, including whether the current majority requirement for election victory should be changed to a plurality requirement and whether qualifying fees for the legislative races, set at $400 since 1970, should be increased.
The council suggests creation of a Georgia Election Code and State Election Board Rules Review Committee to study, among other things, whether the phrase “moral turpitude” requires a specific definition in the election code.
Applauding Waiver: U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson added his voice to the chorus praising the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to grant Georgia a waiver from the “No Child Left Behind” requirements.
Isakson, who helped draft the original legislation as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, says, “It is time to make changes based on what we have learned.”
In September, he joined State School Superintendent John Barge in making the waiver request.
No Super Surprises: In addition to giving Former Georgia Congressman and House speaker Newt Gingrich his only Super Tuesday win, Georgia voters were kindly disposed to Sunday alcohol sales. In DeKalb, Cobb and Richmond counties, among others, voters overwhelmingly said yes.
Reproductive Rights Redux: To emphasize her opposition to HB 954 and what the House Democratic Caucus calls “the double standard on reproductive rights,” Rep. Yasmin Neal (D-Jonesboro) came up with a reproductive-themed bill of her own, HB 1116, that would prohibit vasectomies in Georgia.
HB 954, sponsored by Rep. Doug McKillip (R-Athens), seeks to criminalize abortions performed after 20 weeks (the current law says 26 weeks) and would eliminate mental illness as one of the threats to the mother’s health that can override the law.
Tongue firmly in cheek, Neal said of her anti-vasectomy bill: “There is substantial evidence that unregulated vasectomies result in fewer pregnancies and, by extension, fewer births. It is patently unfair that men can avoid unwanted fatherhood by presuming that their judgment over such matters is more valid than the judgment of the General Assembly.”
McKillip’s bill was expected to pass, but, not surprisingly, Neal’s died.
Garnishment Reform: Fairly early in this year’s legislative session, Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law HB 683, which revamps the way businesses respond to garnishment requests. The bill, which had support on both sides of the aisle, allows businesses to process garnishments via authorized personnel instead of having to hire attorneys.
The new law came as a result of a 2011 state Supreme Court decision that said the processing had to be done by lawyers.
The bill was sponsored by Reps. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs), Richard Smith (R-Columbus), Andrew Welch (R-McDonough), Tom McCall (R-Elberton) and Robert Dickey (R-Musela). The Senate version, which passed unanimously, was sponsored by Sen. Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton).