After serving two sessions, District 24 state Rep. Sheri Gilligan shared her thoughts this week on her time at the Capitol.
On Monday, Gilligan reflected on her time as a legislator and shared some of her lessons learned at a joint meeting of the United Tea Party of Georgia and the Forsyth County Tea Party held at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9143.
The Georgia General Assembly meets for 40 days from January to March. This year’s session ended on March 31.
Gilligan, who was sworn-in August 2015, after that year’s session, said the Capitol is full of people who are being friendly, though not always for genuine reasons.
“If you’re looking for your friends in the chamber or in the lobby, you need to come home,” Gilligan said. “It’s a weird business to be in; everyone’s friendly. You don’t go into the business if you’re an ogre because no one will vote for an ogre, so everyone is really likable … but you’ve got to remember where you stand and why.”
Gilligan said one of her guiding principles while serving was to remember why she was serving in the first place.
“You’ve heard, ‘if you don’t know what you stand for you’ll fall for anything,’” she said. “Take it one step farther. Know what you stand for, [but] by golly know why you stand for that. If you cannot answer why, then do you really stand for it?”
During the meeting, she discussed a number of bills that came up in her first two years and said sometimes laws with positive sounding names or intentions don’t always tackle what they say they will or can have unintended consequences.
One example was a bill that would impose penalties for businesses that had agreed to a contract with a county and missed deadlines.
“That sounds great, but why does the state of Georgia have to tell County X how they can do their contracts,” Gilligan said. “County X may have a better plan. There are only 159 [counties] in Georgia, they may have 159 ideas on how to make the contractor do what the contractor is supposed to do.”
Gilligan said in the future she is also working on a bill to remove tax credits for call centers that received credits for the number of local employees hired when the business was small and kept the credits after laying off locals and outsourcing the jobs and another to notify citizens if their information is leaked in incidents like the recent Equifax breach.
“I think we’re going to get some traction on some really good legislation,” she said, “and ultimately even if it comes out and it’s not the number that I sponsored, I’m not one of those people, I don’t need the credit; I will vote yes.”
Also speaking at the event was Tony West with American’s for Prosperity, who spoke about cronyism, which he said he deliberately does not call “crony capitalism.”
“The problem with cronyism, corporate welfare and the special interest mindset is that it distorts that [capitalist] relationship,” West said. “Each business should have a vested interested in innovating and improving their products so they return a market share … the problem is under this new system way of thinking, cronyism, it stunts growth, it stunts the economy.
West gave examples of bills put forward, some of which passed, for tax breaks for certain yacht repair, royalties for musicians and video game industries. He said while the reason given for many of these was to promote economic growth, but took away tax dollars that could have been better spent elsewhere.
“What really makes me angry about tax breaks in 2017 in Georgia was the fact that the house and the senate actually tried to lower the income tax rate,” West said. “As days went by, the house and senate couldn’t agree and the bill died.”