We Just Might Be Safe During This Georgia Legislative Session

Georgia State Capitol on mostly sunny day

by John A. Tures, Professor of Political Science, LaGrange College

A year after the Civil War, lawyer, editor and politician Gideon John Tucker became famous for arguing “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” But given my observations and discussions with several members of the Georgia General Assembly, we just might be safe here in the Peach State, as some good ideas are percolating under the capitol dome.

In fact, the best idea I have heard may involve a “safe.” In discussions with State Representative Long Tran, I learned about a gun safe initiative. “If accountants can deduct having a safe to store client records as a business expense, we should allow gun owners to deduct the cost of a gun safe from their taxes,” he told me. He noted that increasing such safe storage devices might cut down the number of accidental firearm shootings and deaths.

GOP State Representative David Jenkins, who is running for the open congressional seat in Georgia’s Third District, had securing the border on his mind, but emphasized that his views were not about being critical of people based upon their ethnicity. He noted that tort reform was likely to be a big issue.

As Georgia Public Broadcast (GPB) reported, Republicans are hoping to emulate what Florida did. “The bill expands immunity for property owners against lawsuits from criminals injured on their property and reduces the statute of limitations for general negligence cases from four years to two,” GPB’s Dave Williams reported.

But there will be pushback from attorneys to make sure the bill doesn’t go too far in limiting the right of Georgians to sue, as Williams notes. “Madeleine Simmons, president of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, said civil lawsuit trials in Georgia require 12 jurors to reach a unanimous verdict in order for the trial judge to sign off on a verdict. The American jury system has proven to be the bedrock of our democracy, and Georgia’s civil justice system is no exception.’”

GOP State Senator Matt Brass told me he’s aiming to focus on bills related to foster care. He’s been trying to get the legislature to focus on the issue of foster care and adoptions, and not leave everything up just to the judiciary; other remarks show he’s supportive of accountability courts too.

State Minority Leader James Beverly, who delivered the response to the State of the State, was all about Medicaid expansion, reducing maternal mortality, and other ways to expand women’s health. Given the connection between recent state laws about reproduction and maternal mortality rates, it’s a troubling trend that cannot be ignored.

GOP State Senator Rick Williams and I talked about higher education. He’s looking to see if Georgia Military College can expand from a two-year to four-year program. Republican State Representative Vance Smith discussed with me the expansion of trails, given his role on the committee for natural resources and conservation.

However, if there is an issue of concern to all in the Georgia Capitol, it was the decline in state revenues, after years of growth. Though some legislators did provide some optimism about the chances for a surplus (albeit a smaller one than recently), any extra funds should be saved for a rainy day fund for emergencies, especially if a 2025 recession is likely to occur.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. His views are his own. He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.