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Bill could spell pay dirt for payday lenders

Legislation for 'payday advances'

The oddest of state legislative odd couples — Rep. Steve "Thunder" Tumlin, R-Marietta, and Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway — want to repeal a law that cracks down on predatory payday lenders, leaving critics to wonder why and why now.

The law, passed in 2004, outlawed short-term, high-interest loans known as "payday advances." Extra fees sometimes caused the interest rates for such loans to top 1,000 percent. The law threatened lenders who make "payday advances" with racketeering charges that carry up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine per transaction.

The measure, which is cosponsored by Tumlin and Williams, would significantly water down those penalties.

Attorney General Thurbert Baker is on the record saying payday-lending institutions should be strictly regulated. So is Gov. Sonny Perdue, who signed into law the stricter criminal penalties on payday lenders that exploit Georgians with high interest rates.

Allison Wall, executive director of the consumer-advocacy group Georgia Watch, says no one can get an answer as to why Williams supports the consumer-unfriendly legislation. Williams did not respond to requests for comments from CL.

As for Tumlin, the Marietta representative pointed out that his bill imposes a daily $1,000 fine on lenders who violate the law. "It's [still] tough," he told his colleagues on the committee.

But Wall says she can't figure out why Tumlin wants a strong, pro-consumer law repealed. "What Tumlin is saying is that the governor and leader of his own party signed a bad bill into law," she says.



More By This Writer

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??
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Reed stressed that anyone can be convicted of a hate crime. If a black person violently attacks a white one and a prosecutor can show that part of the defendant's motivation was the victim's race, the bill would give that prosecutor leverage.

??
"If witnesses say, for example, that they heard the defendant making anti-Semitic comments, that information is what the prosecutor would need in order to seek an enhanced penalty," Reed said.

??
Rudolph pleaded guilty in federal courts to the Otherside Lounge bombing, in addition to bombs he set off in Centennial Park during the 1996 Olympic Games, and at abortion clinics in Sandy Springs and Birmingham. The Birmingham blast killed a security guard. Rudolph is serving a life sentence at the Federal Correctional Complex in Florence, Colo., known as "Supermax."

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??
As chairman, Smith does not hold a committee vote and was reluctant to guess how fellow Republican members would vote on the hate-crimes legislation, but he seemed to anticipate that they would get the chance.

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"My expectation is that we'll have a hearing and probably a vote," he says.

??
Fort was successful in passing an earlier version of a hate-crimes bill that became law in 2000 and was used to prosecute two white street kids who attacked two black brothers while screaming racial epithets. The law was thrown out in 2004 by the Georgia Supreme Court, which ruled it "unconstitutionally vague" because it did not specify what forms of prejudice were to be used in defining a hate crime."
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??
The bill would increase penalties for a person found guilty of any crime targeting a victim because of that victim's race, religion, gender, national origin or sexual orientation. A misdemeanor penalty could be increased by 50 percent. A felony conviction could carry an additional five years of jail time.

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??
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??
Reed stressed that anyone can be convicted of a hate crime. If a black person violently attacks a white one and a prosecutor can show that part of the defendant's motivation was the victim's race, the bill would give that prosecutor leverage.

??
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??
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??
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??
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??
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As chairman, Smith does not hold a committee vote and was reluctant to guess how fellow Republican members would vote on the hate-crimes legislation, but he seemed to anticipate that they would get the chance.

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??
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image-1There's a much-ballyhooed bill out there that would enable counties in the metro area to establish a regionwide 1-percent sales tax. The tax would be used for transportation projects.It sounds like a good idea, and has received notable backing from the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

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| more...
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Wednesday February 14, 2007 05:58 pm EST

Gov. Sonny Perdue issued the following statement Tuesday regarding the passing of Congressman Charlie Norwood:

"Mary and I extend our deepest sympathies to Gloria and the entire Norwood family. Gloria has been an incredible example of strength and dedication to us all as she stood by Charlie's side.

"Charlie cared for his constituents in the same way he cared for his patients as a...

| more...
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  string(4380) "As Georgia's first Republican lieutenant governor, Casey Cagle is already in a good position to win the governor's seat in this reddest of red states in 2010.

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When he beat right-wing darling Ralph Reed last year to win the GOP nomination, he did so by running to Reed's left. Even though Georgia is now solidly Republican, Cagle has worked to build his likability quotient beyond the boundaries of his own party.

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And his maneuvering has paid off. Rather than the contentious legislative session many envisioned, this year's General Assembly has so far been rather tame. "We're having a lovefest with the lieutenant governor," admitted Sen. Steve Henson, D-Tucker.

??
Earlier this month, the Charter Systems Act, championed mightily by Cagle all throughout the campaign last year, passed by a huge margin. Only two Democrats voted against the bill, which enables school districts to set up governing bodies to become parent-run charter school districts.

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The vote was a political culmination of a months-long Cagle charm offensive.

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It started with his tender-loving ads in the general election last fall when he referred to opponent Jim Martin as "a good man" — which stood in stark contrast to the bitter governor's race. Then there was his appearance at the annual meeting of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials. His presence at the nearly all-Democratic Party function way down in Waycross turned some heads back then. Now the minority party sees it's a matter of course with him.

??
As lieutenant governor, Cagle shrewdly appointed Democratic state Sen. David Adelman from Decatur to chair the Urban Affairs Committee, a move that pacified Atlanta lawmakers. He also appointed Democrats to two other committee chairs. He publicly cautioned members of his party about their plans to impose regressive taxes. With his cautious approach to tax-reform talk, Cagle took a more conservative path than House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, his counterpart in the House who trumpeted a flat tax in the lead-up to the session.

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In the Senate, Cagle has overall shown respect toward the opposition when he really doesn't have to, as the Republicans enjoy a 34-22 majority.

??
While cultivating friends among Democrats, Cagle has laid the groundwork to run for governor as a moderate Republican who can cross party lines.

??
"Maybe Casey Cagle has hit the right chord," says Dr. William Boone, a political science professor at Clark Atlanta University. "He moves in a conservative way. He is a conservative. But he's not a vociferous conservative, and that may be the approach to which Democrats and Republicans both are responding."

??
He already proved his "moderate" mettle when he vanquished Ralph Reed, the poster boy for the hard right, in the Republican primary last year. Part of his bipartisan effectiveness as lieutenant governor comes from showing Democrats he's not merely cordial, but also willing to be flexible on some issues.

??
Boone says Cagle demonstrated that early in the session when he backed away from trying to pass the voter identification law, which most Democrats criticize as discriminatory toward the poor and the elderly. When he realized he didn't have the votes, Cagle decided not to press the issue and, instead, chose to focus on other legislation, such as the Charter Systems Act.

??
But given the "lovefest" nature he has fostered in the Senate, another question is whether the affable Cagle will alienate hard-line, right-wing members of his own party.

??
Former state Sen. Chuck Clay, R-Marietta, who is also a former GOP chairman, doesn't think he will. There's a big difference between the protocol of the Senate and the passion of the campaign trail, Clay says. A good politician can navigate effectively in both worlds.

??
"He enjoys the competition of ideas without taking it personally," Clay says of Cagle. "That's the way Pierre Howard behaved when he was lieutenant governor."

??
This month, just before the Senate approved school vouchers, Cagle repeatedly cracked up the chamber at-large with his sympathetic line to legislators trying to inject their last-minute arguments as the seconds remaining to vote ticked down. "I'm sure the gentleman is very passionate about what he speaks," he said in his soothing voice.

??
Cagle was having fun up there on the rostrum, and he was winning."
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  string(4375) "As Georgia's first Republican lieutenant governor, Casey Cagle is already in a good position to win the governor's seat in this reddest of red states in 2010.

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When he beat right-wing darling Ralph Reed last year to win the GOP nomination, he did so by running to Reed's left. Even though Georgia is now solidly Republican, Cagle has worked to build his likability quotient beyond the boundaries of his own party.

??
And his maneuvering has paid off. Rather than the contentious legislative session many envisioned, this year's General Assembly has so far been rather tame. "We're having a lovefest with the lieutenant governor," admitted Sen. Steve Henson, D-Tucker.

??
Earlier this month, the Charter Systems Act, championed mightily by Cagle all throughout the campaign last year, passed by a huge margin. Only two Democrats voted against the bill, which enables school districts to set up governing bodies to become parent-run charter school districts.

??
The vote was a political culmination of a months-long Cagle charm offensive.

??
It started with his tender-loving ads in the general election last fall when he referred to opponent Jim Martin as "a good man" -- which stood in stark contrast to the bitter governor's race. Then there was his appearance at the annual meeting of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials. His presence at the nearly all-Democratic Party function way down in Waycross turned some heads back then. Now the minority party sees it's a matter of course with him.

??
As lieutenant governor, Cagle shrewdly appointed Democratic state Sen. David Adelman from Decatur to chair the Urban Affairs Committee, a move that pacified Atlanta lawmakers. He also appointed Democrats to two other committee chairs. He publicly cautioned members of his party about their plans to impose regressive taxes. With his cautious approach to tax-reform talk, Cagle took a more conservative path than House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, his counterpart in the House who trumpeted a flat tax in the lead-up to the session.

??
In the Senate, Cagle has overall shown respect toward the opposition when he really doesn't have to, as the Republicans enjoy a 34-22 majority.

??
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??
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??
He already proved his "moderate" mettle when he vanquished Ralph Reed, the poster boy for the hard right, in the Republican primary last year. Part of his bipartisan effectiveness as lieutenant governor comes from showing Democrats he's not merely cordial, but also willing to be flexible on some issues.

??
Boone says Cagle demonstrated that early in the session when he backed away from trying to pass the voter identification law, which most Democrats criticize as discriminatory toward the poor and the elderly. When he realized he didn't have the votes, Cagle decided not to press the issue and, instead, chose to focus on other legislation, such as the Charter Systems Act.

??
But given the "lovefest" nature he has fostered in the Senate, another question is whether the affable Cagle will alienate hard-line, right-wing members of his own party.

??
Former state Sen. Chuck Clay, R-Marietta, who is also a former GOP chairman, doesn't think he will. There's a big difference between the protocol of the Senate and the passion of the campaign trail, Clay says. A good politician can navigate effectively in both worlds.

??
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??
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??
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??
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??
And his maneuvering has paid off. Rather than the contentious legislative session many envisioned, this year's General Assembly has so far been rather tame. "We're having a lovefest with the lieutenant governor," admitted Sen. Steve Henson, D-Tucker.

??
Earlier this month, the Charter Systems Act, championed mightily by Cagle all throughout the campaign last year, passed by a huge margin. Only two Democrats voted against the bill, which enables school districts to set up governing bodies to become parent-run charter school districts.

??
The vote was a political culmination of a months-long Cagle charm offensive.

??
It started with his tender-loving ads in the general election last fall when he referred to opponent Jim Martin as "a good man" — which stood in stark contrast to the bitter governor's race. Then there was his appearance at the annual meeting of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials. His presence at the nearly all-Democratic Party function way down in Waycross turned some heads back then. Now the minority party sees it's a matter of course with him.

??
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??
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??
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??
"Maybe Casey Cagle has hit the right chord," says Dr. William Boone, a political science professor at Clark Atlanta University. "He moves in a conservative way. He is a conservative. But he's not a vociferous conservative, and that may be the approach to which Democrats and Republicans both are responding."

??
He already proved his "moderate" mettle when he vanquished Ralph Reed, the poster boy for the hard right, in the Republican primary last year. Part of his bipartisan effectiveness as lieutenant governor comes from showing Democrats he's not merely cordial, but also willing to be flexible on some issues.

??
Boone says Cagle demonstrated that early in the session when he backed away from trying to pass the voter identification law, which most Democrats criticize as discriminatory toward the poor and the elderly. When he realized he didn't have the votes, Cagle decided not to press the issue and, instead, chose to focus on other legislation, such as the Charter Systems Act.

??
But given the "lovefest" nature he has fostered in the Senate, another question is whether the affable Cagle will alienate hard-line, right-wing members of his own party.

??
Former state Sen. Chuck Clay, R-Marietta, who is also a former GOP chairman, doesn't think he will. There's a big difference between the protocol of the Senate and the passion of the campaign trail, Clay says. A good politician can navigate effectively in both worlds.

??
"He enjoys the competition of ideas without taking it personally," Clay says of Cagle. "That's the way Pierre Howard behaved when he was lieutenant governor."

??
This month, just before the Senate approved school vouchers, Cagle repeatedly cracked up the chamber at-large with his sympathetic line to legislators trying to inject their last-minute arguments as the seconds remaining to vote ticked down. "I'm sure the gentleman is very passionate about what he speaks," he said in his soothing voice.

??
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Wednesday February 14, 2007 12:04 am EST
Republican uses honeymoon phase to foster 'lovefest' at the Gold Dome | more...
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Article

Tuesday February 13, 2007 11:09 pm EST

As we wrote a couple of days ago, '08 presidential contender Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, already has organization in Georgia.

Today he formally announced his candidacy, and Ric Mayfield, who runs Georgians for Romney, watched the speech on Romney's website.

"I thought he did a pretty good job," Mayfield says.

The Georgia Republican committed to Romney based...

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