The spat between Gov. Brian Kemp and the speaker of the House, David Ralston, is heating up. The speaker has said the House is in recess for a while – maybe until next week – while bean counters figure out what the governor’s proposed budget cuts might do.

The delay also may be for the speaker and the House leadership to decide what to do – stand up to the governor and override his cuts, setting up a veto, or series of vetoes, or acquiesce and become lapdogs for the new governor.

The governor has proposed cuts in the current and the fiscal year 2021 budgets. Some of those cuts are near and dear to some representatives’ hearts. Kemp also has proposed a $2,000 pay raise for public school teachers, a second step in his proposal for a $5,000 pay increase. Some representatives are not eager to go along with what they view as the governor playing politics with a potent political group, teachers. Some don’t care for providing pay raises for some state employees while cutting or furloughing others.

The split over who is going to be the U.S. senator to replace Johnny Isakson – Rep. Doug Collins, favored by Ralston, or Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who Kemp appointed, maybe is part of the feud also.

Thankfully, Rep. Tommy Benton noted that past governors also have fussed with the legislature over budgets.

Georgia has a very strong governor. For example, the legislature cannot decide to add revenue to the budget. It has to accept the number decided upon by the governor.

(One of my gripes about the legislature is that it has more than usual control over local government actions. Members of the legislature may feel that way about the governor.)


When voters replaced two of the longest serving members of the Commerce Board of Education last November, I assumed the board might change.

Based on comments last Thursday, that assumption remains just an assumption.

After a move to change the board’s meeting times to give residents more time to respond, that effort was dropped.

The group’s meeting times will remain the same for this year – a work session on Thursday and the regular meeting the following Monday or Tuesday.

Coincidentally, the two meetings I cover with the most change have the same schedule. Newly elected officials have suggested more time between the two meetings – Statham council and Commerce BOE.

The BOE Monday approved the 2020 list of meetings, with the same schedule as has been the practice.

Statham council also has a work session on Thursday and a meeting early the following week. The difference is that Statham has a new majority – if it decides to use those votes for a change. The Commerce BOE does not have a new majority.


Anyone who goes by the SK Battery America site is flabbergasted by the speed with which building is occurring and the size of the building.

Banks County and Commerce officials have talked about the scale of the changes expected in the area because of the new plant – SK project nearly 2,500 people on the payroll within a few years. That hiring is expected to begin before the year is over.

The site is covered with trucks, earth-moving equipment, cranes and people now.

More than 100 acres has been graded. The company got 283 acres from Jackson County for the project and a larger project – buildings and grading – is expected.

The “first phase” is supposed to be $1.67 billion. That has been announced, but company officials talk about additional spending on the site – up to another $5 billion. That has not been officially announced.

Planning decisions in Jackson and Banks counties are being affected.

Utility infrastructure is a major consideration. The process for making electric batteries involves chemicals. That could, and likely will, involve water infrastructure. Power to the plant will require a new substation that will be built on-site by Georgia Power.

Decisions in the area (which is multi-county) may be affected for years.

Ron Bridgeman is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers. Send email to him at


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