“I am in my sixth year (in the Georgia Legislature and for the past five years, I have been in the doghouse,” Meadows told the Rotarians during the closing days of this year’s General Assembly session. “Why? Because I’ll do anything, I’ll say anything if I think it’s right, and that’s not accepted practice in Atlanta.”
Meadows, who said he will run again for the state House District 5 seat, which serves the western half of Gordon County and the southern part of Murray County, said he first got into trouble with former House Speaker Glenn Richardson when he and several other lawmakers talked David Ralston into challenging Richardson as speaker.
Meadows was also one of the North Georgia lawmakers who voted against Richardson’s choice for a board member on the Department of Transportation board.
“I went from the dog house to the out house on that one,” Meadows joked.
But this session, Meadows found the sun shining on him.
“Guess what happened?” Meadows asked.
That is a rhetorical question for anyone who follows Georgia government: After allegations of an affair with a lobbyist, Richardson resigned as speaker and from his House seat, Ralston was later elected speaker.
As one of the “Braselton 5” who were early Ralston backers, Meadows has returned from his political exile.
“I told the past speaker that I didn’t care what he did to me, because he couldn’t vote for me. Now, I get to do some of the dirty work, and I’m enjoying it,” Meadows said.
Now, Meadows has “a nice office,” “gets to go to a lot more dinners” and chairs the House Insurance Committee.
However, he noted, this session has not been as much fun, largely because lawmakers have had to make a lot of difficult choices in light of Georgia’s continuing budget woes. Meadows said most of the 2010 session was taken up by state budget concerns.
“I have always said that we only have one job down there, and that’s passing the budget,” he said. “The problem is that when we get down there, there are 1,900 other bills that get introduced, and I don’t think we need to be passing a lot of laws.”
Meadows said Georgia’s budget constraints constrained Ralston’s first year as speaker, as well.
“He has been everything I thought he would be, but I would love to see Ralston work in a situation where he is not under the gun about money.”