Information on this page was collected from multiple credible sources..
If you call or write – Focus on Ben Watson, Casey Cagle, David Shafer, Butch Miller, Steve Gooch in the Senate. And Jesse Petrea, Speaker Ralston, Jan Jones, Jon Burns and Kevin Tanner in the House. Ron Stephens probably needs some encouragement too so that he stays strong in the fight.
1 March was the 28th day of the 40 day Georgia General Assembly session. The 28th day is the crossover day for all bills to make it from one body to the other or they die for the session. After that point, the “failed” bill must be attached to another bill that passes both houses.
The Senate version of the bill was assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee and never got out of committee. Senator Ben Watson told the Republican caucus that he opposes the bill and asked them to block it from moving. The Senate leadership told the House leadership that if the bill came across to the Senate as part of the big bridge naming bill they would let the big bill die and jeopardize all of the other bridge and road name efforts, which are very important to many legislators taking care of their hometown business.
In the House, rather than assigning our bill to the House Transportation Committee like all of the other bridge and road namings, the Speaker assigned the bill to the House Government Affairs Committee, a place which can be a burial ground, a rubber stamp or simply a place for sensitive subjects. Chairman Ed Rynders assigned it to subcommittee then passed it out of subcommittee into the full committee with no discussion or debate. So now the bill sits in the Committee where Chairman Rynders has no intention of a timely hearing of the bill unless directed to by the House leadership.
The Chairman of the Georgia Department of Transportation has confirmed that the DOT has no written record of the old or new Talmadge bridge ever being officially named by the DOT or the legislature. Legislative Counsel has confirmed that there is no record of the Georgia General Assembly officially naming the bridge. Former Gov. Gene Talmadge is remembered as a segregationist, but it appears not many people know or remember that he was also a white supremacist responsible for the University System of Georgia losing its accreditation for firing professors who taught racial equality, among other things.
It is extremely frustrating that naming Savannah’s bridge is being treated very differently than all of the other bridge namings in the state. It is being treated as something that is dangerous which people feel can be used against them in an election year in spite of the significant support the bill has received by over a third the members of the House who have endorsed the bill.
State and national media coverage of the issue has helped to raise the profile of the issue significantly. It is indeed a David vs Goliath issue. It would be helpful if the media and others could ask the harder questions such as: Why is this bridge naming being treated differently than all of the others? Why isn’t it coming up for a hearing? Who is behind holding it up? Who was Gene Talmdage?