Tag: Mike Klein

By Mike Klein Criminal justice reform legislation introduced this week contains highly anticipated alternatives to incarceration such as expanded drug treatment courts, along with probation and parole revisions, and modifications to burglary, forgery and theft statues.  We knew that was coming. Some sections of House Bill 1176 that were not expected include extending the statute of limitations on prosecution of child abuse cases – this was not a specific focus of work done last year by the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform — and religious clergy might well be surprised to learn they are mentioned in the criminal justice reform conversation. Gov. Nathan Deal’s office already signaled the current bill is not good enough. “It doesn’t achieve exactly what… View Article

Juvenile Justice Reform Bill Vote Possible on Tuesday

By Mike Klein The Georgia House could vote as early as Tuesday on juvenile justice reform legislation that is every bit as significant as a similar adult criminal justice reform initiative, but it has received less public scrutiny.  The bill appears to have significant bipartisan support in the House and Senate.  One big proposal would mandate that county prosecutors be assigned to every juvenile court. “We are making substantial changes in the way in which we handle problem children in Georgia,” House Judiciary Chair Rep. Wendell Willard said this past weekend during the 21st annual Georgia Bar Media & Judiciary conference in Atlanta.  “One of the things that I’ve made sure is in there is that before the state can… View Article
By Mike Klein Georgia’s high octane tax reform initiative flamed out last year.  A moderate approach seems possible this year and likely soon with the Legislature having completed half of its calendar. “I call state income tax the opiate of state government,” says Jonathan Williams, director of the tax and fiscal policy task force at the American Legislative Exchange Council.  “When times are good personal income tax revenue and corporate income tax revenue skyrocket.  When times are bad it plummets down the drain.” Governor Nathan Deal described his preliminary reform agenda in early January: Elimination of the sales tax used on energy in manufacturing, sales and use tax exemptions for construction materials used in major regional projects and changes to… View Article
By Mike Klein Georgia voters – the people whose tax dollars pay the bills at every public school system statewide – are one step closer toward being allowed to decide whether the state should have the authority to create and fund charter schools over the opposition of local school boards. Wednesday afternoon the state House approved HR 1162 by a slim 123 – 48 margin.  That is three votes more than the measure needed for two-thirds super majority passage and 13 more than a different version received during the House floor vote two weeks ago.  The bill moves to the Senate where an education committee hearing is scheduled for 1:00pm Thursday. “There have been a lot of people working hard… View Article
By Mike Klein Georgia’s criminal justice reform initiative has flown stealth-like under the radar since November when a special council delivered its report.  That will change soon, perhaps later this week, with the introduction of legislation that will propose the greatest change since get tough policies enacted in the 1980’s and 90’s caused the Georgia prison population to swell beyond its walls. What you should expect from legislation – we are hearing it could be almost 100 pages long – was the focus of an American Legislative Exchange Council criminal justice reform panel held last week in Atlanta.  “Eighty million dollars to build one prison in Georgia – that is the cost of bricks and mortar, not the cost of… View Article
By Mike Klein Promising that Georgia would never knowingly turn a pig into a horse, House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey suggested Thursday that two changes to a charter schools constitutional amendment resolution might help secure bipartisan support.  HR 1162 requires a two-thirds majority vote in the House, and then it would be sent to the Senate. At issue is whether voters in November will be asked to decide whether the state shall become an alternate authorizer for charter schools after they are initially turned down by a local board of education, and, how to fund those new schools. During remarks that lasted just a few minutes, Lindsey told a House education hearing that the state’s official definition of a charter… View Article
By Mike Klein A behind-the-scenes coalition that believes the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the federal health care reform law is working on a new health insurance strategy for Georgia. Almost certainly, this summer’s biggest headline will be the Supreme Court decision to uphold or overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which President Barack Obama’s administration counts as one of its finest achievements.  Two federal appellate courts upheld the law and one rejected it.  Supreme Court arguments are scheduled for the final week of March. Federal law trumps state law, so nothing in the evolving state strategy could be implemented in Georgia if the Supreme Court upholds the federal health care reform law.  The Georgia Public Policy Foundation… View Article
Two weeks ago hope and change seemed possible.  Two thousand students, parents and start-up charter school supporters gathered on a sunny winter morning outside the State Capitol to rally on behalf of the principle that equal opportunity begins in school.  Now we know that too few inside the great stone building cared to hear their message.  Entrenched thinking has won out over enlightenment. On Wednesday the state House rejected HR 1162 which sought to place a constitutional amendment question on the November ballot that would ask voters:  “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”  The measure fell ten votes short of the 120 two-thirds… View Article
Georgia has many transportation challenges but with an eye on simplicity, you can group them into about two categories: moving people through congested urban areas and moving freight everywhere.  The idea is you want to minimize how often people and freight compete in the same space. Governor Nathan Deal is expected to discuss state freight transportation strategy during his keynote address Wednesday morning at the fourth annual Georgia Logistics Summit in Atlanta.  The strategy with all its detail is targeted for release at this month’s Department of Transportation board meeting. Georgia transportation assets include the Brunswick and Savannah ports, thousands of rail miles, the Atlanta international airport and interstate highways that bisect nearly every section of the state. Transportation challenges… View Article
Legislation that would ask voters to decide whether the state or local boards of education should be able to authorize start-up charter schools moved out of the House education committee Thursday by a 15-to-6 vote.  The next stop is an uncertain future before the full House where it needs two-thirds approval by members voting on the question.  With 180 members, the magic number is 120. Thursday’s committee vote approved a constitutional amendment ballot question that asks voters to reinstate an alternate authorizer for start-up charter schools; in this case, the state itself.  The state had the authority under a charter schools commission created by the 2008 Legislature.  But several local school boards sued and the Supreme Court overturned the commission… View Article

“I am here today to thank the Georgia Public Policy Foundation for your role in building a fiscally conservative, pro-growth state. Not only did you help pave the way for a new generation of leadership, you continue to provide key policy advice and to hold us accountable to the principles we ran on. In short, you have had a transforming influence on this state. We are healthier, stronger, and better managed because of your efforts.

State Senator Eric Johnson, President pro tempore, Georgia State Senate more quotes