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You can accomplish much with no credit

POSTED: November 14, 2012 4:00 a.m.

It's time to look back on some of the more important pieces of legislation I've had an impact on over the last 12 years before my retirement as your House District 9 State Representative takes effect in January.

This will be the first in a series of columns analyzing some of those pieces of legislation that I feel have had a positive impact on the lives of my constituents.

When I first ran for the House of Representatives in 2000, I made a promise to the people of Lumpkin County to introduce legislation to change the governing body from a sole commissioner to a multi-member commission with a fulltime, unelected county manager.

Seems simple enough, doesn't it?

Here is where I learned my first great lesson in politics: "You can get a lot accomplished if you don't care who gets the credit."

It turned out that some people who had been for the county management system wanted it changed after the election.

Those persons got Sen. Carol Jackson to introduce alternative legislation for the chairperson to be the day-to-day manager.

We even had a ballot put in the local newspapers asking constituents to vote on which piece of legislation they preferred.

Even though my version garnered the most votes, Sen. Jackson insisted that it be her bill. She wanted the credit for changing Lumpkin County's form of government.

The Redistricting Session of 2001 had left Sen. Jackson with a district that she could not win without some help, and she believed that this legislation could be her ticket.

Our compromise was that the bill would carry her number with my verbiage.

So when you search the archives, you will not find my name on the legislation.

In 2004, Lumpkin County finally began to operate under a multi-member form of government. Today there are only a few of Georgia's 159 counties still operating under the archaic sole commissioner form of government.

In 2005 our north Georgia farm wineries wanted the law changed to allow them to ship wine intrastate to customers.

Under Georgia law, at that time, farm wine could only be purchased at a winery outlet. Tourists who took a few bottles home were not able to call the winery to have more shipped directly to them.

In 2006 I introduced legislation to change the law so that previous customers could order wines without returning to the winery.


After sailing through both houses of the General Assembly, the bill was vetoed by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue. I never really learned why he vetoed the legislation, but I heard that it had something to do with one of my columns.

Two years later, I got my friend, Rep. Ron Stephens, to reintroduce the bill without my name, and the rest is history.

Our Georgia wineries are now successful, world-class, award winning businesses.

My good friends Larry and Sallie Sorohan lost their grandson Caleb in a car accident over the 2009 holidays.

At the beginning of the 2010 Legislative Session, at Sallie's urging, I introduced a bill to ban sending and receiving text messages while driving.

Sallie was interviewed by newspaper and TV reporters, and her plea made headline news.

As often happens, others jumped on the "bandwagon" and introduced companion bills.

A composite was drafted by the Public Safety Committee under someone else's name. I would like to have been the author of record, but more importantly, the legislation passed and is now law.

It is difficult not to be passionate about a piece of legislation into which you have devoted so much effort, but sometimes you must let it go.

If the reason for the legislation was important enough for the bill's introduction, then that has to be the deciding factor - not who gets the credit.

Lumpkin County needed a change in government; the farm wineries needed an obstacle removed; and our teenagers needed to be made aware of a grave danger.

Unfortunately, my latest discussions with enforcement officials indicate that texting while driving is still the norm for teenagers and few have been ticketed.

On Nov. 15, the Georgia Conference on Children and Families will present me with the Legislator of the Year award for my past work in helping those who could not help themselves. This is not legislation and the people who were benefitted by my efforts are making sure I get recognized.

What we have been able to accomplish on your behalf during the last 12 years has been important. How we were able to do it sometimes makes it even more interesting.


Rep. Amos Amerson can be reached at 689 N. Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533; phone (706) 864-6589; e-mail hamerson@windstream.net. Or contact Gerald Lewy at (706) 344-7788.

 

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