Payne cosponsors resolution for Willis investigatory committee

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Jan. 29—Twenty-one Republicans in the Georgia Senate are sponsoring a bill that would "provide for notification to parents and legal guardians of public school students of the right to receive email notification each time their child obtains school library materials."

Senate Bill 365 was introduced on Jan. 22. Its backers include District 54 state Sen. Chuck Payne of Dalton.

"Such email notice shall include, as applicable, the title, author, genre and return date of the school library material," the most recent iteration of the bill reads.

The bill would also revise the state definition of what falls underneath the term "education record."

The proposed amendment would include "records relating to any written or electronic materials made available to students enrolled in a public school, including classroom materials, school library materials or any materials made available to a student as part of an extracurricular activity offered or supervised by the public school."

Payne is also among 30 Republicans backing Senate Resolution 465, which seeks the creation of a special investigatory committee pertaining to Atlanta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Fani Willis.

The resolution accuses Willis of "various forms of misconduct relating to the prosecution of cases related to the 2020 presidential election" — which, per the text of the bill, would "establish grounds for District Attorney Willis' recusal from further involvement in the prosecution, potentially delaying it indefinitely and requiring the appointment of a special prosecutor at public expense."

According to the bill, the alleged conduct is "best examined initially by a select group of senators who, acting as a special committee, shall be empowered to exercise each of the Georgia Senate's inherent and statutory powers of investigation."

The proposed committee would consist of no more than nine members, "at least three of whom shall be from the minority party."

The committee would have the power to "call any party to testify under oath at such investigations" and "require the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, records and papers."

Funding for the committee would come from Senate appropriated dollars.

"In the event the committee adopts any specific findings or recommendations that include suggestions for proposed legislation or changes in appropriations, the chairperson shall file a report of the same," the bill text reads. "No report shall be filed unless the same has been approved by a majority vote of a quorum of the committee. A report so approved shall be signed by the chairperson of the committee and filed with the secretary of the Senate."

Payne is also among 19 Republicans sponsoring Senate Bill 361.

Introduced on Jan. 22, the bill would amend Georgia code pertaining to public meetings.

"Under circumstances necessitated by emergency conditions involving public safety or the preservation of property or public services, agencies or committees thereof not otherwise permitted by subsection of this code section to conduct meetings by teleconference may meet by means of teleconference so long as the notice required by this chapter is provided and means are afforded to the public to have simultaneous access to the teleconference meeting," the bill text reads. "In the event such teleconference meeting is a public hearing, members of the public must be afforded the means to participate fully in the same manner as if such members of the public were physically present."

Under the bill, agency or committee members would be limited to six teleconference participations per year — barring emergency conditions or health complications preventing them from being physically present at a meeting.

"Emergency conditions shall include declarations of federal, state or local states of emergency," the bill text reads. "Provided, however, that no such declaration shall be necessary for an agency ... to find that emergency conditions exist, thereby necessitating meeting by teleconference."

Payne is also among 19 Republicans supporting Senate Resolution 454, which proposes an amendment to the Constitution of Georgia.

The proposal would tweak the language of Article II, Section I, to read "only individuals who are citizens of the United States and residents of Georgia as defined by law who are at least 18 years of age and not disenfranchised by this article and who meet minimum residency requirements as provided by law shall be entitled to vote at any election of the people."

As currently worded, that section of the Georgia Constitution begins with the phrase "every person who is a citizen of the United States and a resident of Georgia."

Pending the resolution makes headway, the proposed amendment would go before voters as a statewide ballot item.

Payne is also among 11 Republican lawmakers sponsoring Senate Bill 367.

Introduced on Jan. 22, the legislation would amend Georgia code "so as to eliminate authorization for the use of ballot drop boxes."

Specifically, the bill would repeal a subsection of code section 21-3-382.

"A board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk shall establish at least one drop box as a means for absentee by mail electors to deliver their ballots to the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk," the section in question reads. "A board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk may establish additional drop boxes, subject to the limitations of this code section, but may only establish additional drop boxes totaling the lesser of either one drop box for every 100,000 active registered voters in the county or the number of advance voting locations in the county."