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COLUMN: GA legislators ditch principle for pizza, corn dogs and wings

The following article is an opinion piece and reflects the views of the author and not those of AllOnGeorgia.


People say “when you base your life on principle, 99% of your decisions are already made.” That must be why principles are so scarce under the Gold Dome.

Friday was Crossover Day at the Georgia Capitol. One of the few days that legislators work late into the night to pass as many bills as possible, facing a deadline of midnight for House bills to be approved and sent to the Senate before they are dead for the year.

This year’s chaotic Crossover was much like many in previous years, except 2017’s puppetCrossover Day showed just how cheap and easy it is to get a legislator to do something.

House Bill 225 was on the Rules Calendar for Friday. The bill, in short, adds a sales tax on ride sharing networks, like Uber and Lyft, for the services they provide customers if their aggregate sale of services is over $250,000 per year. The bill is short, a mere three pages, and easy to understand.

At 5:06 p.m., the Georgia House voted on HB 225. The bill failed in a vote of: 82 YES, 88 NO, 3 NO VOTES and 7 EXCUSED.

After a break for dinner, the House reconvened and reconsidered HB 225. It was 8:55 PM. This time, the results of the vote were astonishingly different. 28 people who voted NO the first go around did not vote NO on the second. The pill passed with 106 YES votes and 60 NO votes. (6 did not vote and 8 were excused)

The bill did not change. No amendments were made or presented. IT WAS THE EXACT SAME BILL that the House voted on at 5:06 p.m. Same people, same room, same seats, same bill.

House Bill 225 was not a brand new bill or a Johnny-come-lately idea. The bill was dropped on February 1, passed out of Committee on February 24, was withdrawn, again passed out of Committee on February 28, and it was read on the House floor TWO times before it ever went to Rules.

This was not a piece of legislation that had zero conversation or coverage. It did not slip through the cracks.

Any suggestion that any of the above was the cause of a change in vote is simply untrue.

If our legislators want to call it a tax increase, fine. If our legislators want to say it is not a tax increase, that is fine too.There were a mere 25 votes on other matters in between the first HB 225 vote and the second.

Is it really that hard to hold steadfast in your principles for 3 hours and 49 minutes?

Don’t answer that.

“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.” – Will Rogers

The list of legislators who flipped their vote is below. The full bill is at the bottom of the article.

  • Rep. Timothy Barr (R – Lawrenceville)
  • Rep. Dave Belton (R – Buckhead)
  • Rep. Tommy Benton (R – Jefferson)
  • Rep. Doreen Carter – (D – Lithonia)
  • Rep. Heath Clark (R – Warner Robins)
  • Rep. David Clark (R – Buford)
  • Rep. Sharon Cooper (R – Marietta)
  • Rep. Demetrius Douglas (D – Stockbridge)
  • Rep. Emory Dunahoo (R – Gainesville)
  • Rep. Chuck Efstration (R -Dacula)
  • Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R -Powder Springs)
  • Rep Pat Gardner (D – Atlanta)
  • Rep. Dan Gasaway (R – Homer)
  • Rep. Scott Hilton (R – Peachtree Corners)
  • Rep. Wayne Howard – (D – Augusta)
  • Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick (D – Lithonia)
  • Rep. Tom Kirby (R – Loganville)
  • Rep. Brenda Lopez – (D – Norcross)
  • Rep. Marie Metze – (D – Atlanta)
  • Rep. Greg Morris – (R  – Vidalia)
  • Rep. Mark Newton – (R- Augusta)
  • Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn)
  • Rep. Paulette Rakestraw (R -Powder Springs)
  • Rep. Jason Ridley – (R – Chatsworth)
  • Rep. Terry Rogers – (R – Clarkesville)
  • Rep. Dexter Sharper ( D – Valdosta)
  • Rep. Mickey Stephens – (D – Savannah)
  • Rep. Steve Tarvin (R – Chikamauga)
  • Rep. Andy Welch (R- McDonough)

Reps Karen Mathiak, Brian Prince, Deborah Silcox and Joyce Chandler actually went from YES on the first vote to NO on the second vote.

Reps Ed Rynders, Al Williams and Coach Williams voted NO during the first vote but did not vote on the second.

Reps Alan Powell and Jesse Petrea voted YES on round one and skipped voting on round two.

Jessica Szilagyi is a Statewide Contributor for AllOnGeorgia.com. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers."

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