Columbus lawmaker appointed to lead powerful Georgia House committee

Politics

A Columbus lawmaker has been tapped by the speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives to lead the powerful Rules Committee.

Rep. Richard Smith, a Republican starting his 16th year in the General Assembly, was announced as the Rules Committee chairman Tuesday in an email to House members. The decision was made by Speaker David Ralston.

“I can’t tell you how much it means to have the speaker place that much faith and confidence in you,” Smith said when reached by phone.

The Rules Committee has the final say in what legislation makes it to the House floor for a vote. It is a critical cog in Georgia state government.

Rep. Calvin Smyre, a Columbus Democrat who is the longest-serving member of the General Assembly said he was “ecstatic” to learn of Smith’s new role.

“This is huge,” Smyre said.

And he should know, he served as Rules chairman for six years when the Democrats controlled the House. He is starting his 46th year in the House. He calls the Rules Committee chairman “a weighted position.”

“I think this bodes well for Columbus,” Smyre said.

But it also speaks to the job Smith, who most recently chaired the Insurance Committee, has done in the General Assembly.

“One thing about being Rules Committee chair is the speaker has to have absolute confidence in you,” Smyre said. “It speaks to his ability and credibility.”

The General Assembly session starts Jan. 13.

Smith, a retired county extension agent, spent four years on Columbus Council. He ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2002, losing to Bob Poydasheff. Two years later, Smith was elected to the General Assembly.

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