Senate to live-stream state Capitol committee meetings

Lawmakers and lobbyists get ready for a Senate Finance Committee meeting last March. DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM

For the first time, reporters, lobbyists and members of the general public will be able to use laptops and smart phones to watch over many state Senate committee meetings where the details of legislation are hashed out.

For several years, House committee meetings in the state Capitol have been live-streamed over the Internet. By January, the other chamber hopes to catch up.

Three committee rooms in the state Capitol and two more in the adjacent Coverdell Legislative Office Building are being wired for video and sound.

“The work of the General Assembly should be transparent to everyone in Georgia, not just those with the means and time to travel to the state Capitol when we are in session,” said Senate President pro tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, who claimed credit for the initiative.

Shafer is running for lieutenant governor next year. Our AJC state budget expert put the cost at $485,000.

Sessions in the House and Senate chambers are also live-streamed and archived — which means a video archive, curated by Georgia Public Broadcasting, will now exist for most official doings in the Capitol.

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We’ll let others keep you up to date on the mass murder in Las Vegas, which apparently was the work of a suicidal 64-year-old white man in possession of an automatic weapon or a semi-automatic that had been converted to rapid fire. But we offer this bit of mind-numbing reality from the world we now live in:

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Over the weekend, you saw many candidates for mayor of Atlanta emphasize fundraising as September turned to October, closing out the latest reporting period.

One reason: The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods will host one of the last big mayoral forums at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at North Atlanta High School. (Yours truly will be moderating.)

But not all candidates will be invited. The group intends to limit the stage to six or so, selected on the basis of their fundraising prowess.

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Speaking of Atlanta’s race for mayor: You know that Bernie Sanders was in town on Saturday to pump up the vote for former state Sen. Vincent Fort. Also this weekend, another candidate, Councilman Kwanza Hall, got a pick-me-up from former Atlanta police chief George Napper, who endorsed Hall’s effort (though he’s not alone in this) to reduce penalties for marijuana possession in the city. From Napper, ever the academic:

“As chief of police, I saw first-hand the destruction of young people’s futures due to juvenile indiscretions. The present law has inordinately affected young African-American males and exacerbated the attendant community ills associated therewith.”

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A reminder: The two Staceys in the 2018 Democratic race for governor — Abrams of Atlanta and Evans of Smyrna — will meet onstage for the first time at 6 p.m. today at the Carter Center. Georgia WIN List is the sponsor of the event. In a kind of preview, the moderator, former secretary of state Cathy Cox, will be on GPB’s “Political Rewind” at 2 p.m. In Atlanta, that’s 88.5 FM.

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A Sunday string of Tweets on North Korea has foreign affairs specialists appalled and others wondering if Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be the next Cabinet member to throw up his hands and quit:

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From the world of newspaper op-eds: In the New York Times, Erick Erickson of WSB Radio fame tells of a disastrous medical year – he with blood clots, his wife with cancer – that has required him to consider social media’s impact on polarization. A taste:

The truth, though, is that our Facebook friends are probably not going to water our flowers while we are on vacation and our Twitter followers will not bring us a meal if we are sick. But the actual human being next door might do both if we meet him.

This is what I want my children to know if I should die before they wake. The kitchen table is the most important tool they have to reshape their community. Preparing a home-cooked meal and inviting people over, both those we know and those we want to know, forces us to find common ground.

In the Washington Post, former Georgia congressman John Barrow, now a 2018 candidate for secretary of state, addresses partisan gerrymandering, a topic that has been taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court:

As a former member of Congress who faced one of the most egregious cases of gerrymandering in our country, I have a modest suggestion: We should draw representative districts so that moderate voters have as much say as partisan voters. That means doing away with as many reliably partisan districts as possible.

This approach would solve two problems at once: It would prevent any partisan majority in control of the redistricting process from abusing that power to enhance their power, and it would also be a relatively easy standard for the courts to administer.

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In the aftermath of Tom Price’s abrupt resignation as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Trump administration is tightening enforcement of travel rules. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney pushed out a memo on Friday reminding officials that “just because something is legal doesn’t make it right” when it comes to travel.

Meanwhile, John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, was given authority to sign off on Cabinet travel on government-owned or leased chartered flights, according to the Associated Press. (Tamar Hallerman)

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Speaking of Tom Price, Mic reports that one of his final actions as health secretary was to delay implementation of a rule aimed at punishing drug makers for price gouging. The rule was supposed to go into effect Sunday. That’s now been delayed until July. President Trump has long railed about drug prices and urged pharmaceutical executives to lower prices. (TH)

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Another Republican has joined the 2018 race for state insurance commissioner.  Hoschton City Council member Tracy Jordan announced her bid to replace Ralph Hudgens with a plan to prevent what she calls the “roughshod” way the insurance industry treats the residents and businesses of Georgia. A half-dozen candidates have already filed paperwork to run for the seat, which has long been in GOP control. (Greg Bluestein)

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Local members of Congress are getting in on the bipartisan effort to lure Amazon to metro Atlanta. An usual group of lawmakers teamed up on Friday to write CEO Jeff Bezos about why he should select Georgia for the company’s second headquarters, a $5 billion proposition that could generate as many as 50,000 jobs. “Our region is home to one of the most highly educated, highly skilled, and diverse workforces in the country,” wrote David Scott, D-Atlanta; Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville; Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia; and Karen Handel, R-Roswell. (TH)

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1 comments
Jamesr1991
Jamesr1991

Though I don't agree with Erick Erickson I offer my prayers for him and his wife for a full recovery.