After Glenn Richardson’s embarrassing resignation from his post as Georgia House Speaker, legislators are ready to anoint another Republican representative to the post. David Ralston, an attorney from Blue Ridge, is expected to assume the position next month. While many on both sides of the aisle are praising Ralston as a much needed pillar of stability and straightforward statesmanship, there are concerns for under and unemployed Georgians.
A casual glance at the economic context of the metro area indicate that working people are suffering. Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate still hovers over 10% and as people are praising the apparent recovery of the market, labor has not rebounded. This has certainly been the case for over a year now. With this in mind, it would help to check into what Mr. Ralston was doing in 2009 as labor plunged.
To briefly summarize the matter, not much for working people. In reviewing the bills he sponsored or co-sponsored, many were the typical “Jimmy became an Eagle Scout so let’s recognize him.” If you don’t believe it, just check HR 304, 325, 376, 851, 852, 853, 895 and 932. Others aim at dehumanizing convicted felons and denying justice to poor people (see HR 572 and 324).
Ralston did sponsor two bills this past year that, if passed, would actually move toward job creation for middle and working class people. HR 836 seeks to create the Fannin County Water Authority- a move that would certainly create real jobs for working people. The other, HR 640, was crafted to replace regional economic development commissions with “Regional Development Centers”, serving as economic development hubs, encompassing several cooperating entities.
The irony in the two bills is that they both involve considerable expansion of the public sector- something republicans are supposedly against. In fact, HR 640 mandates that, “Each municipality and county in the state shall automatically be a member of the regional development center for the region which includes the municipality or county, as the case may be.” It also states that, “Each county and municipality in the state shall pay the annual dues for membership in its regional development center.” Sounds like forced government and a tax, of sorts.
By presenting these two bills, Ralston is tacitly admitting that there is a much needed role for government in job creation. This is indeed an admission that the unemployed throughout the state hope the new Speaker will remember as he assumes his post.