Top lawmakers: Winter storm won’t stop start of legislative session

View Caption Hide Caption
House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. AJC file

House and Senate leaders on Thursday said they are monitoring the approaching winter storm closely, but Speaker David Ralston said the General Assembly will convene as planned on Monday.

Ralston, a Republican from north Georgia, noted the state’s Constitution requires it.logo-all

“Actually, I’m going home to Blue Ridge Friday afternoon. I hope I get snowed in,” Ralston joked.

“We’re required to be here Monday. I will be here. The Constitution says we have to meet on the second Monday in January and we’re going to be here and start.”

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said he trusts state agencies to be prepared to handle the storm’s impacts.

“Right now, we’re moving forward but we’ll have a contingency plan if weather does become dangerous,” he said.

***

One of a quartet of Democrats running for U.S. Rep. Tom Price’s seat has raised more than $39,000, he said Wednesday, hoping to establish himself as his party’s leading contender in a bid for the suburban Atlanta seat.

Josh McLaurin, an attorney and relative unknown in the state party, said he’ll file the campaign disclosure in the next few days. It will include $6,000 in loans. He’ll be in a crowded field to replace the Roswell Republican that also includes three other Democrats: Former state Sen. Ron Slotin, former state Rep. Sally Harrell and Democratic operative Jon Ossoff.

The district, which stretches from east Cobb to north DeKalb, is a heavily conservative one. Price, who was tapped as Trump’s health secretary, won it by more than 60 percent of the vote. But Democrats hope they can turn the contest — one of the first since Trump’s election — into an upset victory if they unify behind a single candidate.

“As a Double Dawg who was raised in the 6th District, I am confident that I can speak the new language Democrats are looking for in the aftermath of the election,” said McLaurin. “I hope my fundraising efforts communicate to Democrats that I am serious about injecting new energy into the party’s efforts in Georgia.”

Gov. Nathan Deal won’t set the date for the election until Price resigns, but it’s likely to be held in the summer. Although only one well-known Republican has formally entered the race — state Sen. Judson Hill — a range of other GOP contenders are likely to jump in. They include former Secretary of State Karen Handel and ex-state Sen. Dan Moody.

***

On that note: Karen Handel has been making the rounds lately. Several folks reported they saw her at a Rotary Club meeting in east Cobb County this morning. Don’t expect any imminent announcement. We’re told that, out of respect for Price, she’s holding back until his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing later this month.

*** 

A trio of senior Senate Democrats today will be calling on the recently-embattled Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Georgia U.S. Rep. Tom Price, Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of health and human services, for his stock trades while in Congress.

Chuck Schumer of New York, the new Senate Democratic leader and the top Democrat on the two committees that will soon hold Price’s confirmation hearings, will be holding a press conference on Price this morning on Capitol Hill. From the event notice:

“Senate Democrats will also demand answers to questions on Rep. Price’s stock trading as a part of the vetting process for his nomination to Secretary of HHS – and will urge that his nomination not move forward until they are adequately answered.”

We’ll have more coverage on Political Insider a little later this morning.

***

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, got his wish on Wednesday: A spot on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The only pharmacist in Congress, Carter has been lobbying for a seat on the panel, which has jurisdiction over health care, environmental policy, manufacturing and, yes, pharma. That connection had some good government groups questioning whether an appointment to the committee could lead to conflicts of interest, since Carter’s wife owns his former pharmacies and could benefit financially from his decision-making.

Carter previously said he worked to make sure he wasn’t breaking any ethics rules, and on Wednesday he hailed his appointment as a win for the state — given its ports, energy projects and environmental cleanup sites.

“As a lifelong health care professional, I believe it is my duty to use my knowledge and experience to help all Americans and I believe it will be best utilized on this committee,” he added.

Georgia lost its two longtime seats on the committee in early 2015 after the departures of Phil Gingrey and John Barrow.


View Comments 2