banning mermaids

georgia-capitol

Some of my readers at Gwinnett Forum have asked if I was serious about requiring that the Georgia General Assembly meet only once in every two years.

In short, you betcha! Why? Because most Georgians will tell you that nothing is safe when the Georgia Legislature meets, as members introduce all sorts of measures that negatively impacts its citizens, most bills only benefiting some local constituent.

Major case in point: while the state government seeks cuts in school budgets (read as taking away bus driver’s health insurance, while raising the salary of judges), they dance around a billion dollar sales tax rebate for Delta Air Lines. Meanwhile, that major Georgia corporation is taking in many millions of dollars in higher profits.

Are you beginning to get the idea of why we need to limit the Legislature meeting?

A recent effort of the Legislature has been to make more inroads by the state in taking over the rights of local governments. Once simply called “unfunded mandates,” as the Legislature required cities, counties and school boards to pay for items previously done by the state, these days we find many areas where local control is simply being eroded by the Legislature.

For instance, no longer can local government regulate guns in local taverns. Now it’s done by the state. A bill this year would have limited local control of banning specific breeds of dogs. The Legislature wants the state to do it. And other bills are aimed at local governments having no control of plastic bags, moving monuments or statues, regulating public swimming pools, or keeping contractors from cutting utility lines.

Whatever happened to the notion that local elected officials were in a better position to make local decisions than state officials? Isn’t the government closest to the people the best government? Isn’t the idea by Republican-controlled Legislature for less government, not more state regulations?

But local control is just one place where state government is exerting more influence than it should.

We say again, keep the legislature from meeting as often, and you have improved (and far less) state government. If nothing else, if we can limit even the time the Legislature convenes to once every two years, we have improved our chances of finding whacky legislation being presented, and we will have done a good job.

An example of whacky legislation: we go no farther than a bill introduced by one of the Gwinnett delegation, Rep. Tom Kirby (R) of Loganville. Simply put, he wants to ban mermaids, centaurs, werewolves and other half-human, half-animal creatures that don’t exist. Can you believe that? Now that’s a worthy of piece of legislation, isn’t it?

Man o man! Let’s hope Rep. Kirby loses next time around, along with many of his unopposed colleagues. We deserve better. If you know of a decent and reasonable person wanting to run for the Legislature, please encourage them. We need good, sound people seeking office. If not, people like Tom Kirby will merely back into office by getting re-elected. Remember, perhaps two-third of the Legislators don’t have opposition. How can we improve matters if we keep sending the same yokels down to represent us?

Potential legislative candidates of Georgia: arise. We need you to get on the ballots to change matters at the state capitol. You could introduce legislation to meet only once every two years. At the least, it couldn’t hurt. Meeting only once very two years would reduce the chances of unreasonable legislation (good or bad) being proposed. We’ve had enough to last a long, long time.

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Editor's Note: This story originally published at the Gwinnett Forum. Image: Georgia State Capitol front entrance by Ken Lund via flicker and used under a Creative Commons license.
Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.