No More Independence in the State House

January 10, 2017

 

For the first time in 70 years there will not be a Kidd in the Georgia State House at the start of the legislative session on January 9th.  Also for the first time since 2009, when retired State Legislator Rusty Kidd joined the legislature, there will not be an independent member of the Legislature. Kidd became the first independent to be elected in Georgia history.  After working as a lobbyist since 1972, State Representative Rusty Kidd served as the only State Representative or Senator that was not directly registered as a Republican and Democrat.  Rusty Kidd’s father, Senator Culver Kidd served in the Georgia General Assembly for forty-two years.  Kidd’s grandfather and great grandfather also served for twenty-one years collectively.  For the past several years, when it came to constitutional provision changes, which requires two-thirds vote of members of the General Assembly, his one swing vote made a huge difference. 

 

State politics has a more substantial effect on the daily lives of most citizens that the National political backlog.  Yet the tone and tenor of National politics can shape the discussions at the State level.  What will it mean for Georgia to have a fully partisan General Assembly with a Republican led Federal Government?  Between 2008 and 2012, Tea Party members sweep into local and state level politics throughout the Country in response to the election of President Obama.  

 

Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, or independent we can all agree we are expecting something unexpected from President Trump and his majority controlled legislature.  I am intrigued at what will sweep in as a response to a President Trump.  We may be looking for advances in technology security to protect ourselves from hackers.  Will we see the “law and order candidate’s promised increase of on the ground police citizen encounters in the black community?  We know for certain, with the promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, that it is not likely Georgia and other hold out states will change their stance on opting into Medicaid expansion anytime soon.  The lobby and nonprofit groups who formerly made expansion a priority will likely focus their attention on keeping their funding sources off of the legislative chopping block under this conservative administration. 

 

Here in Georgia, self-acknowledged Tea Party member, Congressman Tom Price may make good with his promises to briskly get rid of Obamacare, his Republican Georgia colleagues may gain increased power and political capital by riding the new Secretary of Health and Human Services coattail.  Price’s proposed legislation, Empowering Patients First Act, would offer tax credits based on age for health insurance.  The bill includes “high risk” subsidy grants for certain populations, across state line sales of insurance, association health plans, and incentivizes health savings accounts.  Most importantly it would be a replacement to Obamacare. 

 

What is there to gain?  The entire ecosystem around America’s fasting growing port in Savannah gives Georgia attention and bipartisan support to ask for more and more funding throughout the State.  An unchecked constitutional majority in the General Assembly gives Republican legislators cause to and power to pass attention grabbing bills that bring Federal attention to their local communities or issues. Whether it be immigration bills, receiving state funding for schools or constitutional provisions that require a two-thirds vote, losing a registered independent voter may make partisan ship in the legislature less palpable than ever due to the nature of Federal politics.  . 

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