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Cagle back in good graces with Senate
Lt. Governor Casey Cagle makes a point during an interview in his office. - photo by Times file photo

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has regained the power and influence he had in 2007 before a 2010 Republican coup that stripped him of many responsibilities, political analysts and local legislators said.

For the upcoming General Assembly, Cagle is one of the leaders deciding committee assignments, along with new Senate Pro Tempore David Shafer, R-Duluth, and new Majority Leader Ronnie Chance, R-Tyrone.

He has retained his power to name lawmakers to conference committees and has a little more power to direct legislation to the floor, said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia.

Previously, Cagle had two representatives on an eight-member committee that assigned members to committees and less influence on directing the flow of information.

“Instead of being represented at the table, he has a seat at the table,” Bullock said.

Such restoration of his status is deserved, said Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, chairman of the Republican Senate Caucus, who points out Cagle was elected statewide.

“Any move to diminish his power would be usurping the people’s vote,” Miller said. “That would be wrong.”

The earlier change came from two GOP leaders arguing for a greater separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. Former Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers of Woodstock and former President Pro Tem Tommie Williams of Lyons succeeded in moving responsibility for directing the flow of legislation — such as assigning members and chairs to committees and assigning bills to committees — to a committee of senior Senate members.

Georgia’s Constitution defines the lieutenant governor as the president of the Senate and successor to the governor, with other duties given by law.

Another advantage for Cagle may be his relationship with Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, Bullock said.

Mullis has been named one of Georgia Trend Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Georgians for four consecutive years. Cagle was also on last year’s list, which was published in the magazine’s January 2012 issue, along with Gov. Nathan Deal.

Mullis made his name, according to the article, by advocating for tough illegal immigration legislation. He was the Rules Committee secretary and Transportation Committee chairman in the 2011-2012 session.

Neither Rogers nor Williams remained in leadership positions. Rogers left the Senate altogether for a position with Georgia Public Broadcasting late last year after winning re-election to his seat.

After requests for an interview last week, Cagle’s office reiterated a statement by the lieutenant governor given Nov. 30 to The Times.

“I congratulate the newly elected caucus officers and have great confidence in their leadership and ability to work together with our colleagues to advance the commonsense conservative agenda that will encourage private sector job growth, strengthen education and work to address the concerns of our common constituents,” Cagle said at the time.

Bullock said lieutenant governors had even more power before 2003, when Republicans stripped then-Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, a Democrat, of most of his power. Cagle got power back when he was voted into the office in 2006.

Rep.-elect Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, said things ran smoothly when he served in the Senate during Cagle’s first term. Cagle is a good friend of his and Hawkins applauded him for his commitment to his job. Hawkins served in the state Senate from 2006 to 2010.

“He has dedicated his life to making this state run well, day in and day out, for the people of Georgia,” Hawkins said.

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