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Senator can’t get quorum to hear revolving-door job ban
By JIM WALLS
Feb. 18, 2016 — Georgia legislators today were supposed to hear a colleague’s proposal that could limit their future job prospects. Only the crickets — and Sen. Butch Miller — showed up.
Sen. Mike Crane was ready to pitch his plan to bar members of the House and Senate from taking any appointed state job for two years after leaving their seats. A similar bill surfaced in the House this year in response to Gov. Nathan Deal’s tapping 14 legislators for well-paid positions since 2011. (See the full list below.)
But as 4 p.m. arrived, when a Senate Rules subcommittee was scheduled to vet the bill, only one member had shown up — Miller, the chairman. An aide texted other members hoping to scare up a quorum, but all were apparently in other meetings.
A second member, Sen. Jack Hill, ambled in after 15 minutes or so. Crane joked that Hill, Georgia’s longest-serving senator, should count for three members.
But it was too little, too late. Miller and Crane had just agreed to reschedule the hearing, possibly for Monday.
Crane’s revolving-door ban is one of three proposed constitutional amendments he’d like to put to voters on the November ballot. The others, equally sensitive, would:
- Require that House-Senate compromises on bills — known as conference committee reports — couldn’t get a final vote unless they’d been available online for 48 hours. Every year, legislators vote on conference reports on the final day of the session, often without reading them and sometimes with surprise amendments snuck in and just minutes before adjournment.
- Stipulate that appointees to an elected state position could not be designated as an incumbent on the next election ballot unless they’d been elected and served a full term. The requirement would apply to a handful of statewide positions (Brian Kemp, for instance, was named secretary of state in 2010) but primarily Supreme Court justices and state and county judges, most of whom are now appointed rather than elected.
Since 2011, Gov. Nathan Deal has named 14 of the Legislature’s 236 members to state jobs with six-figure salaries:
- Reps. Terry Barnard and James Mills to the state parole board;
- Rep. Tim Bearden as director of Public Safety Training Center;
- ex-Rep. Melvin Everson, after losing a race for labor commissioner, to run Deal’s Office of Workforce Development and later the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity;
- Rep. Jay Neal as executive director of the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Re-entry to help state prison inmates return to society;
- Sen. Mitch Seabaugh as deputy state treasurer (he has since taken a post at the Georgia Student Finance Commission);
- Rep. Jay Roberts as planning director for the Department of Transportation;
- Reps. Roger Lane and Mike Jacobs and Sens. Bill Hamrick and Ron Ramsey to judgeships;
- House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal as administrative law judge for the Georgia Tax Tribunal;
- Sen. Jim Butterworth to be adjutant general over the Department of Defense, and later director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency; and
- Rep. Lynne Riley as the state’s revenue commissioner.