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The "Fuck Fulton" Award
House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, R-Milton
The takers on Pryor Street are so inept that the makers in North Fulton — led by Jones — tried to convince the Legislature in staging a local government coup. One of her many bills aimed at destroying Fulton County government would increase the homestead exemption in the county, shaving an estimated $48 million from the county government's annual revenues, and possibly leading to funding cuts for Grady Memorial Hospital. Another Jones proposal would bar the county from making up the difference by raising taxes. And then there's the GOP-backed county redistricting map that cuts one Democratic seat on the commission. Ironically, while seeking to impose "starve the beast" austerity on the Democrat-controlled county, Jones also penned a bill to allow Milton, the mostly Republican city in north Fulton, to sidestep its charter's prohibition against raising taxes. Where's Grover Norquist when you need him?
The "Georgia Needs a Gitmo" Award
Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville
Last year, Georgia halted its well-oiled execution machine after a death-row inmate's attorneys revealed that the state was obtaining its increasingly hard-to-find lethal cocktail from the back of a driving school in England. Yes, you read that right. The news embarrassed Georgia. But, rather than reconsider the state's obsession with executions, the Dawsonville Republican wanted to cover them up. Tanner, at the urging of the governor and the state department of corrections, slapped an amendment on a bill that would've kept secret the names of doctors and guards involved in lethal injections. It would also make classified the names of the company that "manufactures, supplies, compounds, or prescribes" the chemicals that the state uses in carrying out lethal injections.
The "Bend Over" Award
Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta
Health care costs are rising, says Beach. And it's not because patients are being charged 40 times the cost of an aspirin in hospitals. It's because doctors are making patients take unnecessary tests to protect themselves from malpractice lawsuits. Under Beach's bill, medical malpractice claims would no longer be heard in court but by an 11-member board stacked with doctors, hospital administrators, lawyers and only two "patient advocates." In other words, medical professionals should be able to regulate themselves. Turns out no one, including the Medical Association of Georgia, was in support of his proposal, except for a handful of health care outfits. There's also the pesky issue of the legislation violating the Seventh Amendment. The bill was held in committee to be studied over the summer. We hope the lawmaker consults the U.S. Constitution while rereading his bill at the beach.
The "water boy" Award
Sen. Ross Tolleson, R-Perry
The middle Georgia Republican carried a complex and controversial bill pushed by the state Environmental Protection Division that tree-huggers branded a water-grab in southwest Georgia aimed at helping an engineering firm store and later pump water to metro Atlanta. House Speaker David Ralston shot down the proposal in the final 15 minutes of the legislative session. In addition, Tolleson tried to amend a bill permitting movie crews to film on the state's beaches with language that critics said would have hurt Georgia's stream buffer laws. Earth-loving lawmakers partnered with coastal senators who fought hard to pass the Hollywood legislation to deep-six Tolleson's bill. You'd think the chairman of the Senate environmental and natural resources committee would consider protecting Georgia's streams. Apparently not.
The "budding xenophobe" Award
Rep. Dusty Hightower, R-Carrollton
In the opening days of the session, the Carrollton Republican introduced a bill that would have cut some of the red tape that businesses and state agencies have to navigate to comply with Georgia's stringent immigration law. Then, in early February, the bill somehow morphed into an ugly beast that would've made our state immigration law even more disgusting. Immigration advocates noted that the version that passed the lower chamber could bar undocumented immigrants from receiving some public benefits, including enrolling their children in elementary school. It could even possibly affect citizens applying for a homestead exemption. When asked about the changes by the Associated Press, Hightower sounded befuddled. He apparently didn't understand the ramifications of his bill. But he wouldn't say whether he'd fix the language. Congrats, Dusty. You sound like someone who's eager to please the wing-nuts of his party and who doesn't understand his own legislation.
The "Stonewall Jackson Preservation Society" Award
Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson
I agree with Andrew.
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