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Posted: February 27, 2011 12:30 a.m.

Tudor: Winner depends on who’s keeping score

As the Georgia legislature begins its march to the halfway mark, few significant pieces of legislation have been dealt with.

Widespread Panic (the band, not the budget) has come and gone.

All readers have had to concentrate on in the news was the continuing saga of "Sunday Sales".

The title of the legislation, which has been introduced in both chambers as S.B. 10, and H.B. 69, is a little misleading. Actually those who may have taken the time to read the bills in question would know that both propose only to allow local communities to vote on such sales and that no actual sales would occur as a result of their passage, but more on that later.
It is also a matter of disclosure that I advise readers that I work for an association that would favor passage of local option.

Legislators having to decide whether to vote for the bill have been caught in a quandary because of scorecards, something that many of you may not know about.

Many organizations provide their members with a scorecard rating on legislators where certain votes taken during the session are "scored" as positive or negative. The larger and more far reaching the scoring organization, the bigger the score issue looms for elected officials fearing primary competition or ouster in the next election.

Two very large organizations have "scored" the local option issue. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce, a statewide organization representing Georgia businesses, would like to see local communities have the opportunity to vote, citing the fact that only three states prohibit local control.

On the other hand, the Christian Coalition would oppose such local elections, fearing, as stated by Coalition President Jerry Lequire in a debate we recently had, that such elections "would not be fair."

In Wisconsin, Democrat legislators have fled the state in order to avoid having to make tough decisions on the budget shortfall they are facing. Rightfully, they have been heavily criticized.

In Georgia, faced with competing scorecards, it appears that the answer has been to seek to please both sides by simply not voting.

In theory, since the vote "not to vote" was done behind closed doors in a Senate caucus meeting by the ruling Republican party, one doesn’t really have to tell either side how they voted.

This procedure is well within the caucus rules adopted by the new leadership, but one has to wonder when the issue of local option, which for five years has been before the General Assembly, will get a simple up or down vote.

Scorecards are tough on controversial issues such as this.

But for now, rather than providing voters with a clear indication of where they stand, it appears that today’s grade remains an "incomplete".

 

Jim Tudor lives in Newborn. He can be reached at jtudor@aol.com.

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