Originally created 03/15/05

GOP leaders deal with disruption



ATLANTA - As legislative leaders tried to figure out how to deal with House members who disrupted the chamber's meetings Friday and Saturday, Democratic lawmakers said part of the problem under the Gold Dome is the heavy-handed rule of the GOP majority.

A series of highly emotional clashes boiled over Friday night, with some legislators walking out of both chambers to show their displeasure over separate voter-identification bills. On Saturday, Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, D-Austell, followed up with a speech that didn't stop even as Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, tried to gavel her into silence for exceeding her time limit.

Now, House Republicans are wrestling with how to punish Ms. Morgan and others even as the leadership in both chambers is assailed by Democrats for being as ham-handed as their predecessors.

"As a matter of fact, they're worse," said Sen. Regina Thomas, D-Savannah.

Mr. Richardson addressed the House on Monday about possible sanctions against the dissenting lawmakers.

"We can disagree on policy, but we cannot function if we don't abide by our own rules and lead by example," said Mr. Richardson, whose speech was met with a bipartisan standing ovation. "We're going to enforce the rules. There's not going to be a repeat, without sanction, of last Friday and Saturday's events."

Mr. Richardson said he had met with leaders from both parties to discuss the situation and would continue to do so.

Reach Brandon Larrabee at (404) 681-1701 or brandon.larrabee@morris.com.



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