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Tea mandate, others fall by the wayside

By Diane Wagner

As the battle over the state flag continues to rage, a little-publicized flanking action has quietly faded into oblivion.

A bill proposed by state Rep. Howard Mosby, D-Atlanta, who represents Henry and Clayton counties, Clayton County state Rep. Virgil Fludd, D-Fayetteville, and others, could have made the current arguments moot.

House Bill 899 would have prohibited the incorporation of any symbol used by an entity that has warred against the United States. As examples, it lists the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon; the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor; and the April 12, 1861 attack on Fort Sumter by "gunners of what would evolve into the Army of the Confederate States of America."

Rosa Jones of Lovejoy didn't think much of the way the bill lumps the CSA with the Trade Center terrorists, but she said the push to put the Confederate battle cross on the flag makes her feel left out.

"There are a lot of different heritages in this state," she said. "We need to let the past be the past."

The bill failed to make it out of the House and over to the Senate for a vote.

The same fate awaited a bill on the flip side of the coin, which would have created a special "State Sovereignty Fund." Federal taxes due from the state or its taxpayers would have been held in the fund, subject to confiscation by the state treasury if the federal government "sanctions the state for failure to comply with a federal statute which the General Assembly feels is unconstitutional."

Locust Grove resident Selena Paden wondered if the proposed law would even be legal.

"Can they do that?" she asked. "I wouldn't mind having my money go to my home state, but I think the federal government would have something to say about it."

Less inflammatory bills that failed to make it through one or both chambers this year include those requiring clean bathrooms in schools, sweet tea in restaurants and non-smoking private vehicles when children are present.

Bills to increase the allowable amount of bingo winnings, forbid the sale of children and give the governor power to cut payments to contractors by 2 percent in a fiscal emergency also fell by the wayside.

"Wait a minute," Jones said, laughing about the sweet tea proposal. "We're supposed to have freedom of speech in America but we can't have freedom of beverage?"

Unlike bills, non-binding resolutions need only pass one chamber to become effective.

Between them, the state Senate and House managed to pass hundreds of resolutions commending people ranging from individual STAR students and the Jonesboro volunteer fire department to the Warwick Grits Festival organizers and the Demosthenian Literary Society.

Larry's Biscuits, which opened six years ago in Buford, earned a commendation for being "a welcoming place for neighbors to meet and gather" for good biscuits and breakfasts.

House Resolution 569 commends BP Amoco, Exxon and Chevron for their public-spirited action in placing signs on their gas pumps to warn customers that using cell phones during fueling could create an explosive spark.