Political Notes: August 2011
Ups, Downs And In-Betweens
Top Lawmakers: House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) and State Sen. John Bulloch (R-Ochloc-knee) are the Georgia Chamber’s 2011 Legislators of the Year. First-year State Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody) is the recipient of the chamber’s Freshman of the Year Award.
“These three individuals have proven to be true champions of business and free enterprise,” Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark says. “We are grateful for their commitment, and we look forward to continuing to work with them to build the most business-friendly environment in the nation.”
Ralston was lauded for his support of the public-private partnership bill to construct reservoirs and the HOPE scholarship reform. Bulloch, chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Con-sumer Affairs Committee, was recognized for authoring the bill that allows localities to determine if they want to sell alcohol on Sunday in retail stores and for his work on key provisions of the Immigration Enforcement Act.
Taylor was the only House member to vote with the Georgia Chamber 100 percent of the time.
Six-Month Term: Ben Tarbutton III, 12th District representative to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, was elected to a six-month term as board chair, ending Dec. 31. The shortened term reflects a change in the board’s bylaws, so that the chair and vice-chair’s terms will correspond with the calendar year rather than the state’s fiscal year. The new system will take effect in January 2012.
Tarbutton, from Sandersville, is assistant vice president of the Sandersville Railroad Company. He’s been a regent since 2006.
“I’m honored to be chosen by my peers to lead the board at this time,” Tarbutton says. “Working with Chancellor-designate Hank Huckaby to further the work of the system on behalf of the citizens of the state of Georgia is a task I welcome.”
An App For That: Georgia’s Sen-ator Saxby Chambliss became the first U.S. Senator to offer a mobile phone application for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. His office says the Cham-bliss app “streamlines information about the senator into one place and provides constituents with a new way of interacting” with the Republican senator from Moultrie. The app is available for free on the iPhone App Store.
Out Of the Frying Pan: No one would ever accuse former University System of Georgia Chancellor Erroll Davis of taking the easy way out. The day after he retired from the chancellor’s job, he showed up for his new gig: Interim Superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools. Not exactly a place to coast. The embattled system is trying to recover from a devastating cheating scandal, school board shenanigans and problems with SACS, the agency that accredits Atlanta’s high schools. Davis, who replaces outgoing Superintendent Beverly Hall, has signed a one-year contract with the school system.
New Leadership: Oconee County Chairman Melvin Davis is the new president of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, or ACCG. Taylor County Chairman Clinton Perry is first vice president; Dawson County Chairman Mike Berg is second vice president; and Walton Coun-ty Chairman Kevin Little is third vice president.
New President in Dahlonega: Dr. Bonita C. Jacobs became the first woman president of North Georgia College & State University in July, succeeding Dr. David Potter who retired. Jacobs is the former executive director of the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students at the University of North Texas in Denton. North Georgia College was founded in 1873 and has some 6,000 students.
Employment Opportunities? That’s one way to look at it. Gov. Nathan Deal, in a statement on the status of the state’s agricultural workforce, said, “It is my understanding that there are some 11,000 employment opportunities currently available in the agriculture community.”
Some have claimed that Georgia’s Immigration Enforcement Bill, op-posed by many in the business community, has caused the labor shortage that is leaving some farmers short-handed during harvest season. Deal suggested that some of the 100,000 individuals on probation in Georgia might be tapped to fill the farm worker slots available.
A federal judge temporarily halted two of the immigration law’s harshest provisions – one allowing police to check the immigration status of anyone suspected of a crime and one that would have made it a crime to harbor or transport anyone in the country illegally. The balance of the law took effect July 1.
Commission Members: Business-woman Mary Reed is a new member of the Georgia Commission on Hear-ing Impaired and Deaf Persons, ap-pointed by Gov. Deal. She is a former president of the Georgia Chapter of the Alexander Graham Bell Associa-tion for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing who is active in charitable work. Lee Ann Meadows, who teaches deaf and hearing impaired students, has been reappointed to the commission.