House votes to change local elections to July

Friday, Feb. 24, 2012 12:21 PM
Last updated 8:43 PM
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ATLANTA — The House voted largely along party lines Friday to change the date of elections in Augusta.

The measure by Rep. Barbara Sims, R-Augusta, shifts the election date for consolidated cities and counties from November to July. She argued that legislation last year that changed the election date for judicial elections was intended to include Augusta as well.

Augusta officials have relied on a letter from the attorney general stating that last year’s judicial bill didn’t apply to Augusta because of how the city’s charter is set up. Sims’ bill, House Bill 776, leaves little doubt that Augusta’s voting would move to the summer date, the time when partisan primaries are held.

The chairman of the House Governmental Affairs Committee that reviewed her bill and recommended its passage, Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming, said no one testified against it during two hearings.

“It was an open process,” he said.

However, Rep. Wayne Howard, a Democrat who chairs the Augusta delegation, said he was caught unaware.

“We don’t know when these bills are being heard,” he said.

Sims’ bill passed 95-58. It could come up for a second vote Monday if Rep. Quincy Murphy, D-Augusta, follows through on his stated intention to ask the House to reconsider its action.

“We’ll have the opportunity over the weekend to talk to some folks,” he said.

The Democrats didn’t discuss the bill in their caucus meetings, according to Howard. Instead, the members who voted against the bill picked up clues from the debate on the House floor.

While the House was gearing up to change the election date, the Senate stalled consideration of the district boundaries for the Augusta Commission and Richmond County Board of Education. The House had already passed the maps as local legislation sponsored by Howard, meaning the approval of a majority of the local House delegation led to formal passage by the full House.

In the Senate, where the local delegation is evenly split, with one Republican and one Democrat, action halted. The bills sit in the Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee, which considers statewide bills rather than the committee that normally rubber-stamps local legislation.

“I anticipate there will be an attempt to try to change them,” said Sen. Hardie Davis, D-Augusta.

Howard, Murphy Davis said they were unaware of the committee assignment. None had heard from Sen. Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro, about his intentions to alter the maps, which were based on the work of a special committee of legislators, commissioners and school-board members and designated R3. Stone did not immediately respond to a message seeking a comment.

Last Friday, Davis said he was surprised by Senate Reapportionment’s legislation that would move the district of Sen. Bill Jackson, R-Appling, to include a tiny part of Richmond County. That change, if approved by the full Senate and House, would give the Senate delegation two Republicans and one Democrat starting next year, while the House delegation would maintain its Democratic majority.

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Retired Army
17512
Points
Retired Army 02/24/12 - 02:07 pm
2
1
See what happens in Augusta

See what happens in Augusta when blacks came out to vote in force for the Presidential elections. White people in Augusta didn't get their way so change the voting schedule to dilute the black vote in July during a non-presidential contest.

Jim Crow lives!

Little Lamb
47283
Points
Little Lamb 02/24/12 - 02:16 pm
1
1
The state government is

The state government is overruling an arrogant, defiant Augusta city commission. State law trumps city ordinance. Dog bites man.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 02/24/12 - 02:42 pm
3
2
Why not just change it to

Why not just change it to Christmas Day from 7:00am to 7:15am? That way as few people as possible will vote. That's the intention of the law, might as well go all the way.

Justin4466
43
Points
Justin4466 02/24/12 - 03:05 pm
3
1
No one should be surprised at

No one should be surprised at what Barbara Sims and the Republican legislature did today. As ludicrous as it is, it's the pattern that has been adopted by the majority party where they are in control across the country, "Do whatever it takes to keep 'THEM' from the polls in November. The same is true in the case of getting a Columbia County Senator to represent Augusta. The Republicans have the numbers which gives them the right to "stick it to 'THEM' while you can. The question is can they take as much as they give. I guess time will tell.

Austin Rhodes
2928
Points
Austin Rhodes 02/24/12 - 04:55 pm
2
2
Two things: 1. When the Dems

Two things:

1. When the Dems were in charge, they pulled crap like this all day long and twice on Tuesday. To deny it, would be TO LIE.

2. Two wrongs don't make a right. This thing is being done to keep black folks from voting for Democrats in Richmond County...plain and simple. If you live in Richmnond County and you want conservative representation...move to Columbia County. Don't gerrymander election dates like the liberals have always gerrymandered congressional districts. Conservatives are better than that.

Little Lamb
47283
Points
Little Lamb 02/24/12 - 05:36 pm
2
2
Rep. Wayne Howard said, “We

Rep. Wayne Howard said, “We don’t know when these bills are being heard.”

Come on, Wayne. They publish calendars. Read ’em.

Recall that last year the General Assembly decreed and the Governor signed the law that said Judicial elections and consolidated city/county government elections must he held in July. So Athens/Clarke along with Columbus/Muscogee dutifully set their elections up for July. Only Augusta/Richmond thumbed its nose arrogantly at the General Assembly. Their reasoning was as weak as water, despite the famous letter by an attorney working in the Attorney General’s office offering his opinion. His opinion carries no weight, but the city defiantly held its position.

Barbara Sims is here reminding the city that state law needs to be followed, not scoffed at. Thank you, Barbara.

Little Lamb
47283
Points
Little Lamb 02/24/12 - 05:28 pm
1
1
Rep. Wayne Howard said, “We

Rep. Wayne Howard said, “We don’t know when these bills are being heard.”

Perhaps Rep. Wayne Howard can begin following Barbara Sims around the capitol and Sen. Hardie Davis can begin following Jessie Stone around like puppy dogs following big dogs. Maybe then they'll learn how to play the game.

Austin Rhodes
2928
Points
Austin Rhodes 02/24/12 - 05:29 pm
0
1
Justin..."time told" for

Justin..."time told" for DECADES...when the Dems did this to the GOP. I agree that it is dirty pool, just like it was THEN.

Justin4466
43
Points
Justin4466 02/24/12 - 06:40 pm
2
0
Right Austin, so where does

Right Austin, so where does the stupidity end. One slight caveat is that you are talking dems vs reps but this is more black and white and I don't think blacks have held power at the rate we are headed for in Augusta. For some reason there seems to be a sense that there are no black leaders who white folk can trust. If we don't get pass such nonsense we are all doomed.

Retired Army
17512
Points
Retired Army 02/24/12 - 07:35 pm
2
0
Justin4466 here's a shocker

Justin4466 here's a shocker for you. "Democrat" is now code for black in much of the Augusta business world and political circles. Trust me here. Before I retired from the business world a few years ago if a black person showed up to make a purchase and the credit was less than stellar the tag was "Democrat, huh?' Daily.

As far as Austin goes he has always lived with a "the other guys did it" type of mentality. I guess he just hasn't realized that mature folks don't really handle themselves like that.

Riverman1
87585
Points
Riverman1 02/24/12 - 07:45 pm
1
1
LL, excellent summation of

LL, excellent summation of the facts.

Patty-P
3516
Points
Patty-P 02/24/12 - 09:28 pm
3
0
Will the ghosts of Augusta

Will the ghosts of Augusta and its dirty politics ever go away? This just confirms my thoughts on this city.

Little Lamb
47283
Points
Little Lamb 02/27/12 - 08:57 am
1
0
Song lyrics: The ghost of

Song lyrics:

The ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face,
And these visions of Johanna have now taken my place.

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