Friday, March 13, 2009

Coffee Talk

March 12 was the deadline for considering legislation introduced in the Senate and approved by committee. In the past, many innovative approaches and reforms were simply not heard. Now that Republicans have the majority in the upper chamber, those bills are getting the debate and consideration they deserve, and as a result, our key agenda items for this session now have an excellent chance of reaching the governor’s desk.

Among the key pieces of legislation approved by the full Senate is SB 646, creating the State Office of Accountability and Innovation. This office represents a step toward greater efficiency in state government. It would conduct regular performance audits of agencies, recommend best practices to improve efficiencies in government, review the effectiveness of tax incentives and bring new innovations to government. This office would actually pay for itself by identifying cost savings in government.

Senate Bill 1111, by Senator Clark Jolley, the Educational Accountability Reform Act, will ensure the integrity of test data, giving us a true indication of how well are students are doing in core subjects. The measure calls for testing oversight to be moved to an impartial third party. With objective data, we can do a much better job of helping students master the material necessary for success in school and in life.

Senate bill 834, by Senator John Ford, will remove several unfunded mandates and give local school districts greater control over how state appropriated dollars are used. Majority Floor Leader Todd Lamb authored Senate Bill 609, a measure that reforms the workers compensation courts, which are currently in great need of overhaul.

The full Senate also approved Senate Bill 4 by Senator Ford, which is voter identification legislation to ensure clean and fair elections. A recent story by the Wall Street Journal supports the argument we’ve made for this important reform. This past year, states like Indiana and Georgia which have the strictest voter ID requirements in the country actually saw increases in voter turnout. No one was disenfranchised, and voters had confidence that their ballot would not be cancelled out by someone attempted to commit voter fraud.

Senate Bill 899 would revoke state retirement benefits from state or county officials convicted of felonies. It is an insult to taxpayers when an elected official has been convicted of a serious crime, but continues to draws thousands of dollars each month in pensions because, they argue, the crime they were convicted of really didn’t have anything to do with their oath of office. If an official violates the public’s trust, that person should be held accountable and suffer real consequences for violating the law.

These measures all represent good public policy, and I hope our colleagues in the House will work quickly to add their stamp of approval.

1 comment:

David said...

Logical fallacy to believe a voter hurdle increased turnout in GA and IN. The much more likely reason for increased turnout: Battleground states, swing states, candidate spending and visits, other close races and early voting allowed. Every peer reviewed university study has shown that not having a photo voter id law does have a statistical significant effect on turnout, but having one does.