Legislative ‘study committees’ to cost $120,000

With the blessing of House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, lawmakers approved the creation of 26 “study committees” over this summer and fall — more than have been OK’d over the previous four years combined.

If those committees meet the number of times listed in the resolutions that created them, lawmakers would be paid about $120,000, an AJC review found. But that only includes the $173 a day legislators receive when they meet. It doesn’t include staff or other travel expenses, which could considerably increase the total cost.

Such committees have a mixed history. Some wind up producing key legislation. Others provide lawmakers with a media forum for pet political projects. Some turn into “listening tours,” with lawmakers traveling the state to get input on important subjects like education.

And then there are some like Ralston’s “Red Tape Watch” initiative, with a committee that held four well-publicized hearings around the state last fall to talk about burdensome state rules and regulations. A committee had previously held meetings on the subject during legislative sessions.

“I don’t think we learned anything from it,” said Rep. Virgil Fludd, D-Tyrone, a member of the committee.

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