State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, is an attorney of high repute and no bomb-flinger. So when she lodges a Facebook complaint against House Speaker David Ralston, attention must be paid:
So many of you responded recently to my discussion and irritation over HB 781, an anti-immigrant bill, that states non-citizens may not be appointed to any county, city, authority, or "governmental unit" board, that I want to give you the bad-news follow-up. The bill author had not one example in committee of such an appointment of a non-citizen in Georgia, but he heard it happened in California once and he was against it.
After a dubious voice vote in Committee, I moved for a "show of hands" vote, irritating the Chair, and the bill moved forward to the Rules Committee, and at least once was sent back to the Committee for "technical corrections". Yesterday, Friday, at a 1 pm Rules Committee, HB 781 was put on the House floor calendar, under "Open Structured" status which allows amendments.
I filed an Amendment to narrow, weaken the bill, and the bill was quickly called for a vote, Because of the Amendment, the vote could not happen for at least one hour, and other "helpful" amendments came forward. After 5 pm, the Speaker called the bill again, and about 30 people had left for home or had taken a strategic walk to the restroom. Suddenly, an amendment to my amendment was announced, but we had no copies of the new amendment to my amendment, and I objected through a parliamentary inquiry.
The Speaker ruled that the amendment to my amendment was "technical", and the one hour wait was not required. HUH? Very rarely, if ever, does the Speaker avoid compliance with the rules, but you get the idea of the mood and the conflict. HB 781 passed with a three vote margin, with a confusing non-intelligible amendment, as amended. Bad policy, bad drafting.
I give you these details of procedure to show that there are real tensions and conflict over Donald Trump-type, anti-immigrant legislation in the 2016 session. HB 781 unnecessarily insults the international business community who invested $1.13 billion in Georgia in 2014, and created over 6,700 jobs.
In my speech in support of my amendment, I said we cannot say we want international investors through our many foreign offices of economic development, but also deny them the opportunity to join our table and share their expertise in a positive and formal manner. We, the crowd who wants and respects diverse business contributions, lost a vote by a small margin late Friday afternoon. Can you tell, I was irritated beyond measure?
By Monday, I will get my game face back on, and be ready for more trouble with the Donald Trump-style, and no substance, debate. As always, thank you for your interest.
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