It’s the very last day of the Georgia General Assembly. Or Sine Die (*Without Day*) as it’s commonly referred to. Lots of live action online for you to follow along with. GPB’s Lawmakers, Georgia Public Broadcasting, provide live streams of the chambers. The House live cam/stream is here.

The best live blog for your participation (it takes in Tweets using the #GAsinedie and #GApol hashtags too) is here.

Also, there will be a 6pm rally at the Capitol today to protest HB87. The immigration bill that’s causing such a stink. It’s a gorgeous day out, and that rally will no doubt be very well attended.

Happy Sine Die! And a quickie video package I did for CBS-Atlanta for last year’s Sine Die is here.

Several new media things jump out today… Facebook is such an amazing tool for tracking legislation going through the legislative process. The Sunday Sales/Senate Bill 10 may or may not be before the Rules Committee today.

Advocates such as Rich Sullivan and co. are at the Georgia State Capitol now Tweeting and posting Facebook updates about this one bill’s progress.

Lobbyista, media, advocates and ordinary folk, take note! Could save tons on tasseled loafer polishing costs by not having to hoof it along the hallways of the Gold Dome. Watch and learn from the comfort of your connection.

Then again, just being at the Capitol on a busy day is exciting in itself. Go live and in person whenever you can. Just report back for us what is going on… as it happens. Social media tools make it very easy to do. (They’ve got great wi-fi at the Dome.)

Other quick note… when giving interviews to text-only outlets avoid passive language, such as Michael Bond’s here. While it’s earnest, and might work in a broadcast environment, it always prints bad.

Councilman Michael Julian Bond pointed out that Sandy Springs and DeKalb County have full government participation and the continual council snubs are “almost getting to the point where it is beginning to be offensive.”

Elsewhere, Bob Barr believes in the intended effects of mass media propaganda. The best money can buy. Cute, huh?

One more… from what I hear, bloggers are already revolting on donating free content to @11AliveNews/@gannett‘s Where U Live project. Must give back, news farms! Must.

Think of better ways to give back to the blogger (on-air time comes to mind), and you might get more better content from ’em.

Today is the deadline to nominate your fave Georgia journo/blogger now for The Atlanta Press Club 2010 awards. It’s easy to do. That’s it for the morning. Make it a great use of new media day!

You want action, kiddies? Trust that the Garden Club of Georgia ladies will be flooding the State Capitol this week, kicking ass and taking names over (ugly, tree-cutting) HB 179.

Those power-ladies do NOT mess around. They know their way around some greenie legislation like nobody’s business too. Been at it a long, long, long time.

Wanna know how to lobby? Watch and learn from those women this week as that legislation moves through the legislative process.

From the Florida Times-Union:

The women of the Garden Club of Georgia have been battling for almost two decades over whether billboard owners can cut down trees on highway rights of way to make their signs visible. House Bill 179 by Rep. Jon Burns, R-Newington, relaxes some of the restrictions as a way to help lower costs for the sign owners and their advertisers in hopes of stimulating job creation.

I’m sure the Garden Club of GA ladies, being of a somewhat older demo, could sure use some social media assistance on getting through to legislators on this issue. The bill passed the House, but is now in a *House Notice To Reconsider* status. Which I assume means a gross re-write status before another vote. HB179 bill sponsors are:

(1) Burns, Jon 157th
(2) Roberts, Jay 154th
(3) England, Terry 108th
(4) Bryant, Bob 160th
(5) Hamilton, Mark 23rd
(6) Benton, Tommy 31st

Need their email addresses/phone numbers? Just click here:

Many Georgia state representatives and senators, representing an array of GA regions and both political parties, came down the stairs during their lunch break today to speak to the (Facebook-genesis) rally/the people/the voters gathered at the foot of the Gold Dome. A video snippet is here.

Loads of media were present, so they’ll be plenty of coverage on your evening local news, AJC, CL, etc.

Some of these decent, fair politicians are being listed now on the Facebook Group, Georgians for Sunday Sales. Please take a moment to call/email one or three and THANK them for being there, and for being so supportive.

Seeing such a politically diverse group made me realize how strong a hold a very religious, very few really DO have on our legislation in this state. A choke-hold. More on that matter from the Creative Loafing Editorial Board here.

But these Rs and Ds in the state legislature who support Sunday Sales/SB10 also need to pressure their less brave legislative brethren in the GA Senate – where SB10 went to die in a closed-door caucus – and bring it back!

You can do this oh brave and non-beholden to Baptistan legislators! Yes you can! The people want you to. As the CL editorial said, stop fretting over the votes you might lose and start embracing the votes you can win.

NOTE: If you are Tweeting about Sunday sales in Georgia use the hashtag #SundaySales. Let’s show these GA pols what our data can look like when it’s all in one place.

Ode to an earmark. By Georgia Senators Isakson and Chambliss.

*An earmark by any other name is… oh just give us the damn dredging money.*

From the AJC:

Isakson and U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., have indicated they’d request the money via congressional earmarks, the much-disparaged practice that lets congressmen steer money to their home states. GOP House leaders have pledged to prohibit earmarks.

“I don’t look at this as an earmark,” Chambliss said. “It’s not like this is a new, out-of-the-blue thing that nobody’s talked about in the past. [It’s] funding for economic development.

*Will you be mine for some earmarks, President Obama?* say Georgia Republicans.

But it’s Mayor Reed who shows up at the door with roses, chocolates… and Georgia Ports Authority’s cap in hand. Because harbors don’t get dredged and dredged and dredged, forever, without earmarks. Simple as that.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

UPDATE: Obama just tossed chump change at the feet of GA Republicans. I hope he chortled while they scooped up their pennies.

Folks… this has gone WAY beyond kinda funny. The Georgia Legislature has been raiding (and levying) *fee* funds in Georgia like drunks to an open bar at a redneck wedding reception. (Keep in mind that fees are imposed by legislation; taxes are put before the voters. For the most part.)

Thus, *fees* and not *taxes* are popular in the Georgia Legislature. And the state rakes in plenty of dough from levying fees. Dough that makes our big icky budgeting problems go away quickly, so that our legislators don’t have to do hard work, such as figuring out how to balance the budget legitimately… and thus risk pissing-off all their lobbyist cronies in the process of legitimate hard work going on.

From the AJC today, January 18, 2011:

It [the fee] has become just another source of income for them (R legislators),” Wingate said.

Todd Edwards of the county commissioners association said state officials are “eroding the public trust, eroding transparency” by not using the fees for their intended purposes. “It has become a tax,” he said.

The “t” word is anathema to Republican leaders, who have promised not to raise taxes.

But “user fees” are different because they are designed to pay for specific things — like road maintenance, court services or landfill cleanups. Last session, the GOP majority pushed and won approval for user-fee increases worth about $90 million a year.

Will things change this year? Of course not! Not unless the people who have a stake in where the fee *trust funds* should be going (the places they were intended to go) start raising all kinda serious heck. Maybe they need your help to do so.

Prepare to get screwed. Big Business in Georgia is already getting loads of what we call tax *exemptions* (think of how Delta is not taxed for fuel, the way we are taxed for gas purchases). Despite every report and recommendation and committee convened under the stars, Big Biz gets pretty much whatever they send their lobbyista into the Georgia Legislature to ask the legislators for.

But we, individual consumers, don’t. Unless you can afford to hire Troutman Sanders! Some of what’s being, er, hashed out in regards to tax reform in Georgia is mentioned here, from the AJC:

The film credit (for film industry) is just one fight among dozens that reform advocates face if they wish to make the exemption-heavy sales tax code into a predictable revenue machine.

Recommendations to increase the sales tax on cigarettes and add new sales taxes on purchases by nonprofits or the private sales of used cars face a similar uphill climb.

How reassuring! At least we face an *uphill climb* before getting it, right?

Seeds and stems, this being the weekend:

  • Carol Porter asks on her Facebook… what do Georgians care more about, Nathan Deal’s State of the State address or her chicken salad recipe? I think we all know the answer to that. Recipe here.
  • PolitiFactGA has a cute Deal-O-Meter graphic. Not as cute as kittens playing piano, but cute!
  • City of Atlanta has at least one friend in its social network at the Gold Dome, Speaker of the House David Ralston.

Atlanta bloggers (me and Charlie of Peach Pundit) analyze Atlanta Snowpocalypse on 11Alive/WXIA. January 12, 2011. And boy was it an adventure! Driving to the station and back. Not a whole lot of adventure in this *debate* though. Maybe some other time.