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Former Georgia Sen. Douglas leads mock hearing

Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Former state Sen. John Douglas held mock Senate hearings at Georgia Perimeter College this week for students. He is guest lecturing at the college and taught students how Senate hearings were conducted. Pictured is Douglas questioning student Kurtis Raphael about Senate Bill 10 that deals with Sunday alcohol sales.

Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Former state Sen. John Douglas held mock Senate hearings at Georgia Perimeter College this week for students. He is guest lecturing at the college and taught students how Senate hearings were conducted. Pictured is Douglas questioning student Kurtis Raphael about Senate Bill 10 that deals with Sunday alcohol sales.

COVINGTON -- While state legislators sat in the Georgia Capitol arguing about pending legislation that would affect Georgians, students at Georgia Perimeter College in Covington were doing the same.

This week, former Georgia Sen. John Douglas allowed students to get an inside look at the state Senate while in their seats at the Newton County campus.

Douglas, who is spending his time now as a guest lecturer at Georgia Perimeter College, held mock Senate hearings for several classes this week at GPC. The class was organized into senators sitting on the committee of state and local government operations, while one student acted as the bill sponsor and another acted as if he were opposed to it.

Douglas chaired the committee.

"It's always good to educate young people about what's going on in the government," he said. "I can bring them hands-on experience and explain what's going on in the state government and answer their questions."

During the mock hearings, students argued for and against Senate Bill 10, which proposed that counties and cities could hold referendums to allow for Sunday beer, wine and alcohol sales at stores in Georgia. Several entities, including Newton County, allow for by-the-drink sales of alcoholic beverages at restaurants on Sundays, but patrons cannot purchase alcohol in stores.

Douglas said it was a relevant topic, especially since the bill was approved by legislators this week.

"They get into it," he said about the students.

The student bill sponsors introduced the bill to fellow senators and went through the proposal by line numbers.

Douglas asked questions, and students acting as senators discussed among themselves issues such as if alcohol sales would really increase tax revenues and if it would help decrease DUIs since patrons wouldn't have to travel to restaurants for a drink.

"A lot of it seems to be new information for them," Douglas said. "They get a good in-depth study of American government, but they don't go into too much state information."

In the 1980s, Douglas taught freshman ROTC students at Mercer University in Macon while he was in the Army.

Douglas served in the state Legislature for eight years -- two in the House and six in the Senate. For six years, he was chair of the Senate Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee. He also was secretary of the Higher Education Committee and spent time dealing with issues in transportation, K-12 education, science and technology and public safety.