Freshmen want fresh start

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ATLANTA - Character and integrity.

Rep. Hardie Davis, D-Gracewood, admits those are two words that don't jump off the page when thinking of Augusta politicians.

However, he said, with the wave of freshman legislators at the Capitol from Augusta, that stigma could become a distant memory.

"We're in this together," Mr. Davis said of freshmen Augusta legislators. "It's up to us to right the wrongs of the past."

Mr. Davis, the senior pastor of Abundant Life Worship Center, said it is the image of corruption that keeps Augusta from receiving attention comparable to that of metro Atlanta during the General Assembly.

Even with the vow of transparency, some Augusta freshmen are learning that political clout requires seniority, and you have to bide your time and earn the respect of seasoned colleagues.

Rep. Gloria Frazier, D-Gracewood, laughed when asked why she had not introduced several bills.

"That's not the way it works around here," she said. "You have to earn your due."

As of Thursday, she had only sponsored one bill, House Bill 423. It would require mental health care coverage and health benefits for members and retirees of the Board of Regents.

The lack of bills is not exclusive to the freshman class.

Rep. Quincy Murphy, D-Augusta, has been a member of the House since 2003 but has sponsored very little this year.

"This session is definitely slower than most," he said.

Despite the lack of legislation, Ms. Frazier said her days are busy.

Between the floor sessions, committee meetings and late-night calls to constituents, Ms. Frazier said it sometimes feels like a 24-hour job.

Mr. Murphy is now the elder statesman of the group.

"Four years ago, I would never have predicted to be in this position," he said. "Change can be good. All we can do is accept it and run with it."

Reach Brian Hughes at (404)681-1701, or brian.hughes@morris.com.

AUGUSTA FRESHMEN


- Rep. Henry "Wayne" Howard (D); Committees: Children and Youth, Human Relations and Aging, and Industrial Relations


- Rep. Barbara Sims (R); Committees: Health and Human Services, Natural Resources and Environment, State Planning & Community Affairs (Secretary) and Transportation


- Morris News Service


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