Monday, February 4, 2013
Read the column here.
I fully understand the need to plug the hole in the state’s Medicaid funding and the desire to leverage federal matching funds (of course, the latter puts states in the pathetic position of raising their own taxes so as to get back some of the money those states have sent to Washington, but that is another argument). Besides, readers should remember that one of the central tenets of Obamacare is to slough more Medicaid spending off onto the states. Even so, as discussed in the column, my gripe is with the manner in which the General Assembly is abdicating its responsibilities.
In order to secure such quick passage of SB 24, the Senate suspended one of its own Rules (3.129(a)) so that it could be read and referred to committee on the first day of the session. This was done by voice vote as opposed to a roll call. Also, the bill was referred to the Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee, somewhat curiously in that the web site of the Committee notes that it has jurisdiction over “gas, telecommunications, electric and other related industrial areas,” even before a chairman had been named to the Committee or any of its meetings had been scheduled.
Be that as it may, SB 24 went into the Senate hopper, had a first reading, and was referred to committee on 14 January. The bill had its second reading and was favorably reported by the Regulated Industries and Utilities committee on 16 January (by an 11-3 vote, the Committee approved a substitute that shortened the length of the scheme from 5 years to 4 and added a stipulation that if the trust fund created by the bill was abolished any fees left in it could not be spent without the General Assembly’s approval). I could not find a roll call vote for the Committee’s action; note that Frank Ginn serves as vice-chairman of the Committee. The bill had its third reading and was adopted by the full Senate on 17 January (by a 46-9 vote with 1 vacancy), both Bill Cowsert and Frank Ginn voted in favor of the amended bill.
Over in the House, SB 24 had its first reading on 28 January, its second reading on 29 January, and was favorably reported by the Governmental Affairs Committee on 30 January (I could not find the margin by which the measure passed, much less a roll call vote). SB 24 had its third reading and passed the full House on 01 February (by a 147-18 vote with 5 not voting and 10 excused); Spencer Fry and Chuck Williams voted in favor of the bill while, much to her credit, Regina Quick dissented.
With respect to my left-leaning friends, the Democrats are hardly blameless; they governed the Peach State via the smoke-and-mirrors stratagem for 130 years. I focused on the GOP because: 1) they are currently in the majority in both chambers of the General Assembly; and 2) I am one myself and, quite frankly, I expect better from them.
Besides which, the Democrats seem perfectly content to go along with this taxation via proxy thing. If you don't believe it, pull up the roll call votes on both T-SPLOST and the "bed tax" for yourselves; while it appears that Democrats voted for the measures by smaller percentages than did the Republicans, the majority of former still voted in favor of both.
For the text and legislative history of the Transportation Investment Act of 2010, see:
For the text and legislative history of SB 24, see:
Posted by James at 9:27 AM