Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 26, 2014

President George Washington declared November 26, 1789 the first “public day of thanksgiving and prayer.”

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

On November 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Fourth Thursday in November as the modern Thanksgiving celebration.

[I]t was not until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving to fall on the last Thursday of November, that the modern holiday was celebrated nationally.

With a few deviations, Lincoln’s precedent was followed annually by every subsequent president–until 1939. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt departed from tradition by declaring November 23, the next to last Thursday that year, as Thanksgiving Day. Considerable controversy surrounded this deviation, and some Americans refused to honor Roosevelt’s declaration. For the next two years, Roosevelt repeated the unpopular proclamation, but on November 26, 1941, he admitted his mistake and signed a bill into law officially making the fourth Thursday in November the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day.

On the same day, a Japanese navy fleet left port headed toward Pearl Harbor.

Transportation Funding

Senator Johnny Isakson wrote in the AJC that the federal government should consider moving to user fees to pay for transportation infrastructure.

With drivers buying less gasoline, the revenue coming into the Highway Trust Fund has dropped. Given these factors and recent trends, it is likely our gas consumption will continue to decline. Simply raising the tax rate on a declining revenue source isn’t the solution for our long-term infrastructure needs.

In 2015, we have a real opportunity to repair this broken trust fund and find a new formula that fits the needs of 21st century America. It is time we change the trust fund model to a “user-pays” system. Everyone who uses the roads and other modes of transportation financed through the trust fund should pay into the system.

I also support letting states set their own infrastructure funding priorities. While the federal government should prioritize projects important to the nation as a whole, states have a much better sense of their day-to-day infrastructure needs, and they should be given the flexibility to direct the use of gas tax revenues collected within their borders.

One way a user fee for highways can work is seen on I-85 in Gwinnett County, where a Peach Pass gets you access to the HOT lanes, which are usually moving faster than the prole lanes. Remember how that went over when it first started?

#FergusonAtl

Barricades CapitolSM

Last night, some Atlanta residents took to the street to protest the decision by a Missouri grand jury declining to indict a police office.

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Old Friends – Adoptable Senior Labs for November 26, 2014

Roxy Forsyth

Roxy is a senior female Lab mix who is available for adoption from the Forsyth County Animal Shelter in Cumming, Ga.

Libby Lab

Libby is a sweet senior Lab mix who is available for adoption from Pickens Animal Rescue, Inc. in Jasper, Ga. Libby is house trained, good with other dogs, walks well on a leash, knows basic commands, and is very smart. She enjoys lots of attention and love.

Alice Lab

Alice is a sweet senior Lab mix who is waiting for a new home at the Murray County Humane Society in Chatsworth, Ga.

Basset42928

This beautiful Basset Hound female was rescued from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter yesterday by Country Livin’ Pet Rescue. She started bleeding and is receiving care at Suwanee Animal Hospital and the rescue group is asking for help with her veterinary costs. To make a donation directly to the veterinary office for her care, please call 770-271-8716.

Randy Travis at Fox 5 Atlanta has a soft spot for dogs and has done a number of stories about bad situations, but this week his story profiled Lifeline Animal Project, which has taken over Fulton County Animal Services and reduced the euthanasia rate from around 60 percent to last month’s 17 percent.
Randy Travis Dolly

Six years ago the FOX 5 I-Team began investigating an earlier non-profit in charge of Fulton County Animals Services. That director resigned after we discovered she was keeping her own dogs chained up at her house, even though DeKalb County had an anti-chaining law.

We also revealed how the group’s president spent nearly $80,000 in shelter money at pricey restaurants… hotels… and New York trips. The charity claimed it was all for charity business and appropriate, but the county said the money should not have been spent that way and accused the group of refusing to fully cooperate with an audit.

So in early 2013 Fulton County replaced that non-profit with Lifeline Animal Project.

“Every person on our staff here is focused on how do we keep the animals from coming into the shelter and once they are here, how do we get them out alive,” said CEO Rebecca Guinn.

Feds agree to protect Ga. whales’ habitat by 2016 | savannahnow.com

Highly endangered North Atlantic right whales, which give birth in the waters off Georgia and Florida, got a boost Friday from a settlement agreement that requires NOAA Fisheries to expand their protected habitat by February 2016.

Only about 400 of these right whales remain. Around this time each year the females migrate from feeding grounds off New England to their nursery areas in Southeastern waters. But only a small portion of this range, including an area off the Florida-Georgia border, is protected as federally designated “critical habitat” under the Endangered Species Act.

Last spring, the four groups — Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, and Whale and Dolphin Conservation — filed suit in federal court in Boston to force action. The settlement agreement, filed on Friday, sets the 2016 deadline for the Service to act, though it doesn’t prescribe the critical habitat needed.

via Feds agree to protect Ga. whales’ habitat by 2016 | savannahnow.com.

Garden City ready to pass $7.6 million budget | savannahnow.com

Though it was widely unpopular when implemented last June, Garden City officials say a new property tax might prove to be the boost needed to rejuvenate their town.

Money from the property tax will come into play as the City Council prepares to pass a $7.6 million budget for 2015. Earlier this week, the council held a public hearing on the document, the last step required before their Dec. 1 vote.

While the hearing Monday was poorly attended, the budget has been a popular topic of conversation for the council and the public in recent months, said acting City Manager Ron Feldner.

via Garden City ready to pass $7.6 million budget | savannahnow.com.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 25, 2014

On November 25, 1864, Sherman’s 14th and 20th Corps moved toward Sandersville while the 17th Corps fought briefly against a mix of Kentucky Militia, Georgia Military Institute cadets, and Georgia convicts.

On November 25, 1867, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel filed a patent for dynamite. On November 25, 1895, Nobel wrote his will, leaving the equivalent of roughly $186 million (2008 dollars) to endow the Nobel prizes.

On November 25, 1920, the first play-by-play broadcast of a college football game took place at College Station as Texas A&M (then Mechanical College of Texas) took the field against Texas University.

President John F. Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on November 25, 1963.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience played its first show at the Bag O’Nails Club in London on November 25, 1966.

Ferguson

A rally will be held at Five Points in Downtown Atlanta today from 5 to 9 PM to address concerns about the Ferguson decision. Will reporters outnumber protesters?

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Michelle Nunn told the AJC that she’s not quite Dunn with politics and might be up for a future Runn for office.

“I feel we ran a good campaign. I feel proud of it. We had a great team – volunteers and staff,” she began. “You spend the first few days being disappointed. Then you spend the next few days feeling a lot of gratitude for the experience. And then you start to get into the analysis of it. I think that will go on for some time.”

When asked if she had another statewide race in her, Nunn’s reply was again studied.

“I will stay involved in service. That’s been the trajectory of my whole career,” she said. But politics?

“I’m certainly invested in continuing to build the kind of Georgia electorate that I think would be most healthy for our state – a two-party dialogue, one that engages more and more people,” Nunn said. “I’ll just leave open the possibility of electoral office.”

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Adoptable Georgia Dogs for November 25, 2014

Beast

This guy is named “Beast,” but he’s a sweetheart. He’s become the favorite of several staff members who are begging for a home for him – he’s been adopted out and returned several times, for things like chasing the family cat – not necessarily his fault, but a bad home match. See how sweet and playful he is in his video below. He’s not as big as he looks in the photo above. He needs to be out of the shelter before 4 PM today. We’re praying for a Thanksgiving miracle for this guy. Call the Shelter for more information 770-339-3200 or email jaclyn.nguyen@gwinnettcounty.com.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Number 42884 here is listed as a Shepherd, but I think he’s got even more hound dog in him. In fact, I think he’s probably a cousin to my hound dog Dolly. He was surrendered by his owner and is friendly and playful. Call the Shelter for more information 770-339-3200.

Basset42928

Number 42928 is a female Basset Hound who is friendly and ready to go to a new home; she is available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

42441

42441 is a sweet little medium-sized female terrier mix who is ready for a new home and available for adoption from Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

Sen. Jack Hill: Georgia’s “Rainy Day Fund”

Your Georgia Desk

From Senator Jack Hill

Jack Hill 1

 NOTES FROM THE SENATE

GEORGIA’S “RAINY DAY FUND”
The Revenue Shortfall Reserve (RSR), or the “rainy day fund” serves important purposes in the state government.  It is a contributing factor in Georgia being able to maintain its perfect triple AAA bond rating, and it also has helped the state ride out declines in revenues from time to time.  Of course, the reserve was wiped out during the recent recession. .  As the economy has continued to improve, the State has begun to restore the RSR to its previous levels.  A State’s RSR goes a long way towards showing how good a steward a state is over its own money.  This week we will take a look at Georgia’s experience with its rainy day fund, as well other states’ struggles and successes with their versions of the RSR.
RSR HISTORY
The Georgia General Assembly passed legislation in 1976 creating the RSR, and establishing that it should be maintained at a level of at least 4% of the net revenue of the preceding fiscal year.  According to O.C.G.A. 45-12-93, the amount of all surplus state funds existing at the end of each fiscal year are reserved and added to the RSR.  The Governor may appropriate RSR funds up to 1% of net revenue collections of the preceding year for funding K-12 enrollment gains.  The Governor may also release a stated amount of RSR funds to be appropriated by the General Assembly, and RSR funds may also be used to cover contractually obligated deficits if the state’s obligations exceed net revenues.  Under recent changes to state law, the RSR’s limit was raised to   would be enough to fund the state government for about 15 days.
USE OF THE RSR
 
The RSR in Georgia has ranged over time from 1% as a total of net revenue in various years to a high of 8.58% in 2007.  In 2007, the RSR stood at an all-time high of almost $1.8 billion, but by 2010, as the recession raged on, the reserve fell to $268 million eventually to $50 million.  From 2007 to 2010 the state’s RSR decreased by almost 85%.  Georgia’s RSR has helped the state in multiple economic downturns, the most recent being the recession of 2008-2013.  The RSR was also utilized during a time of declining revenues in the early 1990s and the early 2000s.  However, after each downturn the state has been vigilant in building back its reserve.  The importance of this was borne out in the economic downturn.  If the state had not built up the RSR after the early 2000’s, its financial standing would have been even worse than it was.  From 2007 to 2008, the state used more of its RSR than it had in total in 2004. That alone shows how important it is for the state to maintain a viable rainy day fund.  Some other states were not as prepared as Georgia when revenues plummeted.  The PEW Research Center estimates that nationally, states had $59.9 billion in reserves in 2008, but the aggregate national budget shortfall was $117.3 billion in 2009.  Due in part to Georgia’s RSR, the state was able to help cover budget gaps without resorting to raising taxes, like other states.
OTHER STATES’ RESERVES
As of July 2014, 46 out of the 50 states have some sort of budget stabilization fund, and 20 other state’s funds are based on surpluses.  Other states use methods that range from an appropriation to funds linked to revenue growth; but the most popular model is the surplus-based fund used by Georgia. Some of the reasons other states use different types of funds can be chalked up to different economic realities.  Some states face more volatile revenue streams than Georgia, and so therefore try and find ways to model their version of the RSR to best fit their state’s revenue sources.  Georgia does not tie its RSR to revenue volatility.  PEW ranked Georgia as having the 21st most volatile revenue stream coming in at 6%, which compared to some other states such as Alaska which experiences revenue volatility over 34%, is somewhat predictable.

 

 

Rep. Rob Woodall – Washington Watch: Executive Overreach

Your Washington GA – 7 Desk

From Congressman Rob Woodall

wash wash

 

Washington Watch: Executive Overreach

Happy Thanksgiving

I want to begin this week wishing you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving.  Millions of people are travelling the country this week, returning home to share this uniquely American holiday with their friends and families and giving thanks for all of our blessings…READ MORE.

President Obama Proposes Unilateral Action on Immigration

Whether you identify yourself as a liberal Democrat, a conservative Republican, or anything in between, the President’s actions should trouble you as much as they trouble me…READ MORE.

House Supports Quality Scientific Research at the EPA

During a recent visit with my friends at the Georgia EMC, they shared that one of their biggest concerns about new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations is the detrimental effect they will have on ratepayers’ energy bills…READ MORE.

Supporting the FairTax in Washington, D.C.

On Monday, I had the privilege of advocating on behalf of the FairTax at the Heritage Foundation’s tax reform roundtableREAD MORE(more…)

Sen. Johnny Isakson: Presses Army Secretary on “Grave Concern” Over Retirement Benefits

Your Washington Desk

From Senator Johnny Isakson

Isakson 2

Isakson, Murray Lead Bipartisan Letter Pressing Army Secretary on “Grave Concern” Over Retirement Benefits

 In letter to Army Secretary McHugh, senators call for immediate reversal of policy forcing officers to retire at highest enlisted rank

 Current policy results in significant decrease in lifetime retirement benefits, for some as much as $1,000 per month or more

This week, U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., led a bipartisan group of colleagues in sending a letter to U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh over the Army’s treatment of a significant number of captains and majors who are former non-commissioned officers and are being forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank.

The senators are seeking answers about the Army’s use of Enhanced-Selective Early Retirement Boards (E-SERB), which will result in a significant decrease in lifetime retirement benefits for the impacted soldiers, for some as much as $1,000 per month or more, or just over $1 million over a 40 year retirement in the case of a captain forced to retire as a sergeant first class.

“These former non-commissioned officers answered the Army’s call for volunteers to attend Officer Candidate School as the Army expanded its officer corps to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, despite having served for years as commissioned officers and rising through the ranks to become captains and majors, these dedicated soldiers will soon be forced to retire at their highest previous enlisted rank,” the senators wrote in their letter. “To demote these soldiers in retirement is an injustice that devalues their service and will materially disadvantage them and their families for the rest of their lives… We strongly urge you to take the necessary steps to rectify this situation in order to allow these soldiers to retire at the rank they have earned and appropriately honor their service to our nation.” (more…)