Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GOP Aims for a Quiet Legislative Session; Re-Election Shadow Looms over Governor, Republican Incumbents

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GOP Aims for a Quiet Legislative Session; Re-Election Shadow Looms over Governor, Republican Incumbents

Article excerpt

Byline: WALTER C. JONES

ATLANTA -- Some of the most controversial topics won't be on the agenda for the next legislative session that begins in January.

No bills increasing secrecy for real estate developers. No bills switching the funding of education from property taxes to a sales tax. And no constitutional amendment capping state spending at the rate of inflation and population growth.

Republican leaders, from Gov. Sonny Perdue down, have put out the word that the session should remain tame and orderly.

Many of the most debatable bills are sponsored by lawmakers in safe, staunchly Republican districts. But Perdue must run statewide among voters pretty evenly split between Republicans, Democrats and independents.

He must be careful about supporting every bill that his party's faithful have long wished for while they were out of power for 13 decades. Some of those same bills could become potent campaign fodder for his opponents.

"There is no reason why the incumbents want to try to draw a lot of attention to themselves," said Daniel Franklin, political science professor at Georgia State University.

Typically, voters who know little about candidates will side with the incumbent if they even see a reason to bother voting, he said. A low-key legislative session lulls swing voters into believing things are rocking along fine with the current crew in office.

Tim Callahan, spokesman for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, says his organization is pleased to hear they'll be no action on the sales-tax bill sponsored by Rep. Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons Island. But the organization doesn't plan to relax long.

"My concern is that these issues may arise again once folks feel they are safely past an election year," Callahan said.

Indeed, the spokeswoman for House Speaker Glenn Richardson would make no long-term predictions on Keen's bill or the spending-caps constitutional amendment.

"For now, they're not going to be pursued," said Michelle Hitt. …

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