Now that we have passed Crossover, we are seeing a flurry of committee activity to deal with Senate bills that passed that chamber leading up to Crossover. This pattern is typical, as the House will no longer consider House bills that did not pass by Crossover.
I ordinarily do not comment on action in the Senate, but a recent event left me so disappointed that I decided to break this pattern. HB 811 passed the House a few weeks back. This legislation addresses the various fees collected by the state (tire disposal fee, for example) that are supposed to be spent for designated purposes. It does so by setting up a system to audit the fees each year and verify whether the amount collected was actually budgeted for the designated purpose. If this does not happen, a mechanism is triggered that reduces the amount charged to citizens the following year. As this bill made its way through the Senate, an amendment was added that conditions this process on the state having a certain amount in the revenue shortfall reserve (“rainy day”) fund that is unusually high to the extent that we have rarely seen it happen in recent years. This is clearly intended to gut the bill, and I hope that this language gets removed so that the original version of the bill is passed.
This illustrates what is unfortunately a fairly common practice I see in the legislative process. Something that appears innocent enough on its face is actually designed to have dramatic consequences, such as – in this example – rendering a very desirable piece of legislation utterly meaningless. It often takes considerable diligence and skill to pick up on the real meaning of these things, and I must tell you that it can become a very challenging exercise. I certainly don’t pretend to be able to find them all, but I do try! In fact, much of my energies in the remaining days will be spent on just this sort of exercise. Fortunately, there are many bills that don’t contain attempts like this, but the only way to know is to look.
The legislative process is complex and has many moving parts, and sometimes I try to take a minute to pull back that curtain a bit for you. Since we are in a period when we are spending more time in committee than on the floor, I though you might find this little example interesting.
If you have questions or comments about anything going on in your legislature, please let me know. The best ways to reach me during session are to call (404) 656-0265 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, thank you for the honor of representing you in the Georgia House of Representatives.