Urging resolutions hardly urgent to Congress

While the General Assembly has been busy with bills which will change current laws in Georgia or add new ones to the books, the members have also been introducing several hundred resolutions.

Some of the resolutions are for amendments to the Georgia Constitution which voters will have an opportunity to approve or disapprove this November. Other resolutions, which many of you normally do not hear about, are to memorialize individuals who gave their life serving our country, state or local government; to memorialize individuals who were public servants, and then "urging resolutions."

Here is a sampling of the resolutions memorializing individuals. It is not comprehensive, but next time you pass a sign naming a bridge for someone, you may have a better appreciation as to why the sign is there.

Soldiers and law enforcement officials memorialized: Senior Airman Michael J. Buras in Irwin County, Sgt. Harold Wiggins in Coffee County, PFC Harold Wiggins in Clinch County, Sgt. Dan Jenkins in Camden County, Trooper Chadwick T. LeCroy in Cobb and Fulton Counties and Patrolman Donald Mander in Macon.

Some of the public servants who were memorialized include Judge John Ruffin, who served with distinction for many years as the first African-American superior court judge in Augusta and then went on to the Court of Appeals in Atlanta, where he served terms as presiding and chief Judge. A highway in Early and Calhoun counties was named in memory of long-serving state Sen. Jimmie Hodge Timmons.

While many others may be deserving of memorials, you, as a reader of this column, can pause and be thankful for the sacrifices these individuals made. Some lost their lives to protect us. Others gave greatly of their time to try to make our lives better.

Urging Resolutions are resolutions "urging" certain actions be taken. The vast majority of these are to "urge" Congress to take action on a particular subject. In my 10 years in the General Assembly, I do not know that Congress ever took the action which was being "urged."

Here is a sampling of those resolutions, which were introduced "urging" action by Congress:

  • To pass legislation on digital commerce;

  • To enact a uniform internet privacy law;

  • To repeal the 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote);

  • To refrain from cuts in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program;

  • To oppose ratification pertaining to the United Nations Convention on Rights of a Child;

  • For Congress to "urge" (an urge on top of an urge) the EPA from further regulating greenhouse gas emissions;

  • To permit the use of cellular jammers;

  • To enact the "Fair Tax";

  • And to expand the eligibility of the requirements in the H-2A guest worker program.

Who knows? Perhaps one of these urges will be acted upon. In the meantime, this week could be the last one for the 2012 General Assembly. I urge and urge you all to pay attention to the final days. It is your last chance to urge your elected official to support or oppose bills still pending.

Michael Meyer von Bremen is an Albany attorney and partner with Hall, Booth, Smith & Slover. A former state senator, he represented the 12th Senate District, which includes Albany, for a decade. He writes a column periodically during the legislative session on issues facing the General Assembly.