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Dugan bills would encourage holiday displays, ROTC service
by Tom Spigolon
January 14, 2014 03:58 PM | 1210 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Schools would be encouraged to erect holiday displays and high school students could go to their chosen colleges if they commit to ROTC service under legislation District 30 State Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, is working to pass this year in the Georgia general assembly

Dugan co-sponsored the ROTC bill, Senate Bill 241, with District 6 State Sen. Hunter Hill, R-Atlanta. The Senate approved it in 2013. The House must act on it this year or it will have to begin the legislative process again in 2015.

The legislation would allow lawmakers to recommend students for appointment to state universities with ROTC programs if those students commit to serving in the program for the entirety of their enrollments.

“That [bill consideration] would likely come later in the session,” said Dugan, whose district includes parts of Douglas and Paulding counties.

He said the bill targets students who have done well academically and on college exams, and who may be involved in civic and extracurricular activities, but may need an extra recommendation for admission to the school of their choice. The bill would allow members of the Legislature to recommend the person for admission if they commit to ROTC and later military service, Dugan said.

“By them saying, ‘I am committed to serving in a greater capacity upon completion of my university studies,’ then each of us gets to nominate them to a school,” he said.

Another bill Dugan recently pre-filed for this year’s session would clarify that school systems can legally teach about the history of Christmas and Hanukkah and erect holiday religious displays if they also include a secular symbol or symbols of more than one religion.

The bill makes clear that public school systems already are protected from those who might claim such references violated the constitutional separation of church and state.

“It’s not illegal now, but public schools have been hesitant to do what they were legally within their right to do because they were afraid of lawsuits coming up,” he said.

Dugan also has pre-filed a resolution to change the terms of office for state senators from two years to four years, but limit them to three terms.

He said his proposal only places limits on the Senate and not the House of Representatives.

“What I propose … doesn’t mirror any other state. [Georgia would be] the only one with a bicameral body that the term limits would only apply to one body,” he said.

Dugan said as senators’ terms come to an end, House members from the same areas then likely would seek to fill those empty seats – as is typically done now when senators voluntarily vacate their seats.

“[That] means someone else is running for that House seat, and, in that fashion, you’re starting to get some flow in the House as well,” he said.

The freshman senator’s campaign platform included a call for term limits, which proponents say are needed to reinvigorate legislative bodies with new ideas.

Dugan said he faces a “much greater challenge” passing the term limit bill than other legislation because of expected opposition from a number of groups.

“You’ve got one train of thought that says the voters are the term limits,” he said. “You can’t argue with that – that’s true.”

Another faction maintains placing term limits on lawmakers removes that “institutional knowledge” and experience from the general assembly as a whole – leaving government workers and lobbyists as the only ones with the needed experience, Dugan said.

He said about eight states impose term limits on their legislatures. Those opposing term limits point to California, which recently removed its limits because of the loss of experience, he said.

Dugan said he also will push for Senate approval of a bill sponsored by District 67 State Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville.

Gravley’s bill would prohibit release of 911 audio recordings to news media if they include callers who die of their injuries while making the call, or rape or aggravated assault victims, without the express consent of the rape or assault victim or the family of the deceased caller, Gravley said.

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