Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Internet Gives Legislators Another Field of Battle

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Internet Gives Legislators Another Field of Battle

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- The Internet has come to the Georgia General

Assembly, and supporters are betting legislative politics will

never be the same.

Gone are the days when politically motivated Republican

amendments can be squashed with impunity, or voters have to wait

until election time to see what their representative looks like.

Now, much of what the public wants to know about the workings of

legislature can be down-loaded off somebody's Internet home

page. Or at least it will be in the near future.

And even a gadfly, back-bench lawmaker can become a cyberspace

prophet.

"This is going to hold people accountable," promised Rep.

Mitchell Kaye, R-Marietta, who launched the Conservative Policy

Caucus site last month.

If the political World Wide Web wars have indeed begun, the

opening round in the General Assembly belongs to the

Republicans.

While the Democrat-led House and Senate have Internet sites

listing basic information about lawmakers and their photos, Kaye

and the Conservative Policy Caucus use their new Web page to

alert readers to stalled GOP bills, note hot-button votes

embarrassing to Democrats, and provide links to groups such as

the Christian Coalition.

Kaye began the site after House officials wouldn't let him make

copies of tape-recorded House floor speeches for dissemination.

"I'm always for open and full disclosure government," remarked

Kaye, who estimates about 500,000 Georgians have access to the

Internet.

His site, which had 13,000 "hits" during the first week of the

General Assembly session, initially raised eyebrows because it

looked like an official publication of the Georgia House, not a

small group of hard-line dissenters.

"I wouldn't think he has the authority to represent the House of

Representatives," said Speaker Pro-tempore Jack Connell,

D-Augusta.

Kaye has changed the wording to say the site contains

"information on the Georgia House of Representatives."

The page includes the status of bills, roll call votes, and the

caucus point of view on numerous issues.

It describes bills backed by conservatives that are buried in

Democrat-controlled committees, such as those to implement term

limits and require parental notification for minors' abortions.

The roll-call votes may be especially touchy for Democrats.

Conservatives have made a habit of filing amendments they know

Democrats will oppose to produce incriminating scorecards at

election time.

Kaye's Internet site includes a ready-made cyberspace scorecard.

"This is going to get out all the votes that usually don't get

out," he said. "A lot of elected officials talk one way and vote

another way. Those are the kind of people who get upset when a

scorecard is put out. …

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