As the Georgia General Assembly session moves into high gear, two local lawmakers have a lot of influence under the Gold Dome.
Democrat Calvin Smyre and Republican Richard Smith have positioned themselves to be among the most influential lawmakers, according to a recent list on AJC,.com.
Smith jokes when asked about the influence and power he’s amassed in his 17 years in the General Assembly.
“What is a power player?” Smith asked.
Simple answer. Someone who can get things done or undone in a political environment. Democrat Calvin Smyre is the posterchild for that.
He’s a Democrat who functions well in a General Assembly still dominated by Republicans.
“We know there will be differences,” Smyre said. “And we know there will be areas where we can coalesce and form coalitions and pass legislation for the good of the state of Georgia.”
Smith’s power comes with his chairmanship of the House Rules Committee. Smyre once chaired that committee during a 47-year tenure that has seen him become the General Assembly’s longest-serving member.
“When you chair the Rules Committee you can’t help but be a power player,” Smyre said. “You are the gateway to the General Assembly of Georgia.”
All legislation that passes out of any House committee has to clear the Rules Committee before it reaches the floor for a vote.
“I have been very fortunate since I have been here,” Smith said. “This will be my third different committee I have been chair of. This committee is a little different. It’s a committee the speaker asked me to chair. “
And the Rules Committee comes with big responsibility.
“The sole purpose of that committee is to keep good policy coming before the House,” Smith said. “My job is if it’s not good, kill it.”
And his favorite word?
“My job is to say no,” he said.