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Powerful House Chairman Dies morning of Session

A powerful committee chairman in the Georgia House has died just as lawmakers are gathering for a special session in Atlanta.

House Rules Chairman John Meadows, a Republican from Calhoun, died Tuesday morning at age 74. House Speaker David Ralston confirmed Meadows' death and called the seven-term lawmaker "outwardly fierce and courageous but he was, at the same time, one of the kindest and most generous souls you have ever met."

As Rules chairman, Meadows wielded considerable power. The committee serves as a gatekeeper in deciding which proposals go before the full House for a vote.

Meadows was a former U.S. Marine who also served 13 years as mayor of Calhoun. His 5th District seat included Gordon and Murray counties in north Georgia.