The House Green Door Committee met today on the budget. Basically that means the House leadership and various budget committee chairs huddled on the 2011 budget, which is likely to be voted out of the House later this week.
Shhhhh. We're spending your money. Click to enlarge.
The meeting was not closed to the public, but it wasn't announced, either. That is common practice for Green Door meetings. House Appropriations Chairman Ben Harbin said no major budget changes were made. He said the meeting was mostly about giving Speaker of the House David Ralston an opportunity to hear from House budget writers and "see if there's anything he's got any real heartburn over."
Speaker Ralston said he didn't see any major changes forthcoming.
I understand the group began meeting about 10 a.m. this morning. I arrived at 2 p.m., having heard about the meeting by chance. I don't think anyone else from the press corps was there at all today, and the meeting played out to an audience of empty seats.
I got several looks as I walked in. If you enlarge the picture above and focus on the gentleman on the far left (state Rep. Mickey Channell), perhaps you can divine their intent.
"We have a lot of meetings here that are not closed," Speaker Ralston said after the meeting. "We advertise some and others, it just gives us a chance to have a frank discussion."
So, just to summarize: The top elected officials in the Georgia House of Representatives met in secret for several hours today to have a frank discussion about $17 billion or so of your tax dollars.
And they get to do this because the Georgia Supreme Court decided in 1975 that the General Assembly is not an agency of state government, and thus exempt from the Georgia Open Meetings Act.