While this region appreciates the inclusion of funding for the Valdosta State University Health Sciences and Business Administration building in the House-approved budget, many pieces of legislation dealt primarily with socially conservative issues.
As an Associated Press article noted, legislators passed bills on guns, abortion, and drug testing the unemployed. They did not address issues such as ethics reform, education and alternative energy by last Wednesday’s deadline.
One bill that didn’t make the cut was capping lobbyist spending at $100 and banning public officials and their relatives from serving on the state ethics board or holding government contracts.
So, lobbyist perks and tightening ethics rules for state legislators were ignored.
But legislators did gut a proposal to sweeten tax credits for employers to create jobs; approved legislation that would require people seeking food stamps to earn a GED, pursue technical education, etc.; people seeking welfare benefits would have to pass at least one random drug test; banned abortion coverage under the state employees’ health-care plan; OK’d an exemption to providing birth control to health-care providers with a religious affiliation, etc.
The General Assembly spent a great deal of time on several hot-button issues questioning the motives of several Georgians, while ignoring legislation that took a hard look at the lawmakers themselves.
If legislators feel secure curbing the actions of others, they should curb their own questionable activities as well. They are already funded by taxpayer money; they should have reduced their ties to lobbyists. For that matter, since they are funded by taxpayer money, lawmakers should be subject to random drug testing as often as anyone needing welfare.