The Georgia General Assembly is back in session.
And the 2020 session is shaping up where a couple of Columbus lawmakers will have increased influence in the legislation.
The Atlanta-Journal Constitution did a shortlist of the key players in the upcoming session. Two local lawmakers were among those names.
It was the first time anyone from Columbus has been listed in a while.
Republican Richard Smith moves into that key leadership position as he takes over over the powerful House Rules Committee. That makes him one of Speaker David Ralston’s top lieutenants.
“I heard somebody say that it is a very powerful position in the state that nobody knows,” Smith said. “So, I think that’s one of the things that makes this job intriguing, you do have a say-so on what happens.”
Smith has taken over the committee after the death of Jay Powell of Camillia.
The other is Democrat Calvin Smyre, the only one from the minority party on the list. He is the dean of the General Assembly, starting his 46th year.
When Republicans are trying to cut deals for Democratic votes, Smyre is almost always a powerbroker in those talks.
“It’s called relationships. I have got good relationships on both sides of the aisle. And with that in mind, I continue to try and extend myself to others,” Smyre said. “I try to build coalitions and coalesce and get things done. It’s one thing to kick the can. It’s another thing to fill the can. I am going to continue to try and do things that are beneficial to Columbus and the state of Georgia.”
Smyre has been here before. Two decades ago, he was a major player with the Democrats controlled the state government.