EDITORIAL: Let leaders lead by example

DomeLight by Jim Zachary 

Gov. Brian Kemp has called a special session of the General Assembly. 

He needs to keep the scope of the session focused and narrow. 

The governor said he is calling for the extraordinary session to give some relief to farmers and others who suffered from the devastation of Hurricane Michael back in 2018.

Kemp went on to say that measures put in place to provide relief, such as a tax break for the recipients of disaster funds, have been problematic and additional legislation is required to make sure the people of South Georgia get what's coming to them.  

Of course, Kemp is exactly right when he says, “Our farmers, especially, cannot afford further economic hardship.”

What is worrisome is not what the governor has said about the special session, it is what he is not saying. 

In Georgia, when the governor calls for the General Assembly to reconvene in a special session, he and he alone has the authority to set the agenda. 

This is no time to play politics. 

But, then again, when is it not the time to play politics in Georgia? 

Kemp has given some indication that other budgetary or state oversight issues might be brought to the table.

What are those other issues? 

Why be so cryptic? 

If there are other issues that he intends to hit lawmakers with when they get back to Atlanta, why use relief for farmers hit hard by a hurricane as the sugar stick? 

What does the governor mean by budgetary issues? 

Clearly, he did not get all the budget cuts he had called for, so he is now going to go back to the well? Just this week his office touted what he called a "strong start to the fiscal year with $574 million in new investments" and 3,629 jobs created. Will he be singing a different tune when he gets the General Assembly back to the table? 

Kemp is no political neophyte, and he is fully aware that while he is not on the ballot, this is an election year for the entire state legislature, and it would be easy to leverage vulnerable lawmakers for solely political purposes or to push an agenda. 

The governor should be upfront with the House and Senate and with the people of Georgia about this upcoming special session, be very open and clear about the agenda and not spring any last minute surprises. 

The people's business is serious business and should be handled in a professional and serious manner. 

If this session is necessary, narrow and focused then no one can fault Kemp for calling lawmakers back. If Hurricane Michael relief is a ruse for some other political gamesmanship, then the people of Georgia must hold him accountable. 

CNHI Deputy National Editor Jim Zachary is the editor of the Valdosta Daily Times, the Tifton Gazette and president of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation. 

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