Rep. Sam Moore: "Rookie Mistake" Resulted in Loitering Bill

The state representative says his political inexperience and the lack of mentoring from House leadership resulted in a bill that would have relaxed loitering laws.

Credit: Georgia General Assembly
Credit: Georgia General Assembly
Newly elected Cherokee County State Representative Sam Moore on Monday responded to the widespread criticism of House Bill 1033, which would have loosened loitering laws throughout the state and allowed citizens to refuse to identify themselves to law enforcement officers. 

The bill would have subsequently relaxed restrictions on places where sex offenders could loiter, such as schools and other places where children congregate. 

Moore, a Republican who lives in Ball Ground, has withdrawn the legislation for consideration. Moore represents House District 22, which covers parts of Cherokee, north Fulton and Forsyth counties.

Here's the text of the speech Moore made from the House Well on Monday: 

My name is Sam Moore, and I am the sponsor of H.B. 1033.

It is unfortunate that the language in this bill has been used by my political opponents to cause fear in Georgia’s families. What happened last Friday did not move us forward as a state, and certainly did not move us forward as a party.

But first, I would like to apologize for any embarrassment this bill may have caused the members of the Cherokee, Fulton and Forsyth delegations, the members of the Georgia State House, the people of the state of Georgia and especially my supporters and the voters of District 22. Although my intent was pure, and my mistakes were honest, I am ultimately responsible for all my actions.

Please allow me to explain them. During my time here, I was never mentored on the legislative process, and certainly not mentored by House leadership. For example, I only found out about the rules book after dropping legislation. I found out that Crossover Day was fast approaching, and that bills introduced after Crossover Day would be basically dead on arrival.

Therefore, I started dropping bills as fast as (the) Legislative Council could draft them. I was afraid that if my bills were dropped after Crossover Day, then they would not be vetted in the Committee process. I wanted my legislation vetted in Committee so I could start the conversation, learn from the process, improve my legislation with sage feedback and push my legislation ‘for real’ the following year after I had learned the system.

However, I had no idea that anyone other than assigned Committee members would be looking at the legislation I dropped. That is why I didn’t question the controversial language that (the) Legislative Council included. That was obviously a mistake. Had I reached out to other members, this mistake could have been avoided.

If I had known that the media would be looking at my legislation, I probably wouldn’t have dropped any of my bills without additional consultation. In hindsight, this rookie mistake was silly. I am mature enough to admit that. At the time though, I believed that I was fulfilling a campaign promise to hit the ground running.

Therefore, my political inexperience and my rookie exuberance resulted in the now-famous H.B. 1033. My niece was there as a page that day. She was shoved aside and almost knocked down by the media horde trying to ask questions as I escorted her out of the chamber. If you want to know why I appeared upset that day, now you know. The media had been called in to cover the story earlier that morning. I had no idea of this. Despite the media onslaught, I received no significant advice from the members of this body, and certainly not from House leadership on how to deal with the media.

Since then, I have received hundreds of angry emails, texts and phone calls. Some quite threatening. So to my political opponents: touché. You must see me as an actual threat. Based on what happened last Friday, I request that anyone who has an issue with any bill from any member…please give that member a chance to act to remove the bill before going to the media or signing up to go to the Well against it.

A chance that I was not given.

Aside from that however, there are two things that could have been done to avoid this controversy in the first place. One is that I should have asked for more advice on drafting and dropping legislation. In hindsight, I certainly should have known better. I again apologize for this obvious oversight. Lesson certainly learned.

Two is that House leadership should have mentored a freshman representative who came in halfway through (the) session. Not a single member reached out to me on H.B. 1033 prior to signing up to speak at the Well last Friday.

Those who spoke publicly aired what should have been a quiet, private, constructive conversation the night before. Again, this controversy could have been avoided with proactive communication.

The following Saturday, a senior member finally reached out to mentor me. He convinced me to reboot my approach, and I took his advice. Although this member also spoke against my bill at the Well, he took the time to reach out. For that I am grateful.

I then asked this honorable gentleman to find a mentor for me for the remainder of this session and beyond. Someone outside of my current delegation, with a different ideology and with solid experience. He graciously agreed. To prevent others from making similar mistakes, I plan to immediately drop a bill forcing the Speaker to assign a mentor to all incoming freshmen. Just kidding.

I would, however, like to start a conversation around a mentor program designed to help new State House members navigate both written and unwritten rules. Please see me if you are interested in helping out.

I am a passionate, driven person. But if you believe that I need to slow down, just mention a number to me: 1033. I have politely declined all advice to use this speech to rouse my political opponents. Instead, I would rather this be the first step of a second chance. Please allow me to take it, and please take it with me.

Thank you for your time. I yield the Well.


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