ATLANTA - A longtime Georgia lawmaker known for his outspoken conservative views and frequent "no" votes on legislation was found dead at his home in Marietta on Tuesday, Cobb County police said.
State Rep. Bobby Franklin's death is being treated "as a natural death" and foul play is not suspected, police spokesman Mike Bowman said. The Marietta Republican was 56.
"He never wavered in his conviction to his principles. He staunchly defended our Second Amendment rights, and he passionately promoted the sanctity of life," Republican Gov. Nathan Deal said in a statement. "The unexpected loss of a colleague at such a young age compounds the tragedy."
Franklin was first elected to the state House in 1996 to represent part of Cobb County. He regularly introduced legislation - which never passed - to define abortion as murder in Georgia.
In 2003, he helped redesign the state's flag, which had been the Confederate flag for decades, but eventually voted against the final bill creating the new banner because it moved "In God We Trust" to a less prominent location and made the text smaller.
"He didn't want to vote to minimize God," said former state Rep. Jill Chambers, who sat next to Franklin in the House chamber for eight years. "He had strong Christian beliefs that he lived."
Franklin often stood as the only red "N'' in a sea of green "Y'' votes for even minor legislation, including voting down a bill limiting the number of horseshoe crabs that people can take for bait. Franklin, called "Dr. No" by his colleagues in the House, read each piece of legislation thoroughly and would give thoughtful reasons for his "no" votes, colleagues said.
"I don't consider myself a contrarian," Franklin told The Associated Press in 2001. "I made commitments to my district when I ran for office that if you elect me, this is what I'll stand for. And that's how I voted, consistent with those principles."
Franklin's bills usually had a conservative or religious bent: one would have abolished the state income tax, while another would have allowed teachers to critique evolutionary theory. He supported allowing churchgoers to carry guns and opposed any bill that would increase the role of government or raise taxes, no matter how small.
House Speaker David Ralston said Franklin was a "man of principles and a dedicated public servant who held steadfast to his views."
"The Georgia House of Representatives will miss the gentleman from the 43rd district," Ralston said.
Franklin, a business consultant, graduated from Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Ga., with a degree in Biblical studies and business administration. He is originally from Birmingham, Ala.
He was divorced and lived alone in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta. He had three grown children.
No funeral plans have been announced.