The blog.

17
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 17, 2017

Elsa

Elsa is a 7-month old, 24-pound female Basset Hound and Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Washington Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA.

Elsa came in to the shelter with her brother and sister and is the low-rider of the group. She is very sweet, but shy. She is adjusting to shelter life and learning to walk on a leash.

Smiley

Smiley is a 7-month old, 27-pound male Basset Hound and Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Washington Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA. He really does smile, which leads to lots of tail wagging and that causes major body squirming and wiggles–all of which adds to this boys charm.

Cleo

Cleo is a 7-month old, 32-pound female Basset Hound and Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Washington Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA. She is very sweet and affectionate, but shy and timid. She is adjusting to shelter life and learning to walk on a leash.

Raelynn

Raelynn is a 2-year old, 51-pound male Labrador Retriever and Black Mouth Cur mix who is available for adoption from Washington Wilkes Humane Animal Shelter in Washington, GA. Raelynn is current on vaccinations, friendly, energetic and ready to play. He gets along with other dogs and kids.

17
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 17, 2017

On January 17, 1733, Georgia’s Trustees in London voted to ban Jews from the colony.

On January 16, 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, prohibiting alcoholic beverages, when Nebraska became the 36th of the 48 states then in the Union to ratify the Amendment.

Martin Luther King, Jr. began the Chicago civil rights campaign on January 17, 1966.

At 4:30 PM on January 16, 1991, the Persian Gulf War began as air attacks against Iraq launched from US and British aircraft carriers, beginning Operation Desert Storm.

On January 16, 1997, a bomb exploded in a Sandy Springs abortion clinic, later determined to be the work of Eric Rudolph, who also bombed Centennial Olympic Park in 1996, a lesbian bar in Atlanta in February 1997, and a Birmingham abortion clinic in 1998.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia General Assembly is not legislating this week, but they’re doing something just as scary – budget meetings continue on the current year Amended Budget.

9:45 AM Joint Budget Hearings 341 CAP

Trump Inaugural

Trump Sparkling Wine

I’m not sure how all the Trump brand sparkling wine hasn’t been bought off the shelves. These were at the Brookhaven Total Wine store yesterday. I didn’t see a price on the shelf, but they typically see for about $25.

Congressman John Lewis won’t be attending the Trump inaugural this week.Continue Reading..

13
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 13, 2017

Bogart

Bogart is a 10-month old male Labrador Retriever & Pointer Mix who is available for adoption from Warner Robins Animal Control in Warner Robins, GA. He is a friendly and beautiful dog that looks like he is smiling.

Chachi

Chachi is a young male Viszla mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Houston County, Inc in Warner Robins, GA.

Tilly1

Tilly is a young female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Warner Robins Animal Control in Warner Robins, GA.

Tilly is a wonderful young yellow lab mix. She is loving and sweet, but does not understand how to walk on a leash just yet. However, she is willing to learn and is waiting patiently for a forever home to make her feel safe and loved.

Tilly2

13
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 13, 2017

On January 14, 1639, representatives of three cities in Connecticut adopted the “Fundamental Orders,” the first written Constitution in an American colony and one of the first founding document to cite the authority of “the free consent of the people.”

On January 13, 1733, the ship Ann (sometimes spelled “Anne”) sailed into Charles Town harbor and was met by South Carolina Governor Robert Johnson and the Speaker of the Commons House of Assembly. Aboard the ship were James Oglethorpe and the first 114 colonists of what would become Georgia. Later that year they would land at a high bluff on the Savannah River and found the city of Savannah.

On January 14, 1733, Oglethorpe and the other colonists departed Charles Town harbor for what would become Savannah, and the State of Georgia.

An elected Provincial Assembly first convened in Georgia on January 15, 1751. The Assembly did not have the power to tax or spend money, but was to advise the Trustees.

The state of New Connecticut declared its independence of both Britain and New York on January 15, 1777. In June of that year they would decide on the name Vermont. Vermont would be considered part of New York for a number of years, finally being admitted as the 14th state in 1791.

The Continental Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris to end the Revolutionary War on January 14, 1784. The Treaty was negotiated by John Adams, who would later serve as President, and the delegates voting to ratify it included future Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe.

On January 14, 1835, James M. Wayne took the oath of office as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. A Savannah native, Wayne had previously served in the Georgia House of Represestatives, as Mayor of Savannah, on the Supreme Court of Georgia, and in Congress. His sister was the great-grandmother of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts, and his home is now known as the Juliette Gordon Low house. When Georgia seceded from the Union, Wayne remained on the Supreme Court.

On January 14, 1860, the United States House “Committee of Thirty-Three” introduced a proposed Constitutional Amendment to allow slavery in the areas it then existed.

The donkey was first used as a symbol for the Democratic Party on January 15, 1870 by cartoonist Thomas Nash.

democrat-donkey-cartoon

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Julian Bond was born on January 14, 1940 in Nashville, Tennessee, and was one of eleven African-American Georgians elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965.

On January 14, 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation No. 2537, requiring Japanese-Americans, including American-born citizens of Japanese ancestry, as well as Italians and Germans to register with the federal Department of Justice. The next month, Roosevelt would have Japanese-Americans, including my grandfather, Joe Yamamoto, interned in concentration camps in the western United States.

On January 13, 1959, Ernest Vandiver was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia.

On January 13, 1966, President Lyndon Baines Johnson appointed Robert C. Weaver head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), making Weaver the first African-American cabinet secretary in U.S. History.

On January 13, 1982, Hank Aaron was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

This day in 1987 saw the inauguration of Governor Joe Frank Harris to his second term in office.

On January 13, 1998, Governor Zell Miller presented his $12.5 billion FY1999 budget to the Georgia General Assembly, including $105,000 to provide CDs of classical music for every baby born in the state. According to the New York Times,

“No one questions that listening to music at a very early age affects the spatial, temporal reasoning that underlies math and engineering and even chess,” the Governor said[]. “Having that infant listen to soothing music helps those trillions of brain connections to develop.”

Mr. Miller said he became intrigued by the connection between music and child development at a series of recent seminars sponsored by the Education Commission of the States. As a great-grandfather and the author of “They Hear Georgia Singing” (Mercer University Press, 1983), an encyclopedia of the state’s musical history, Mr. Miller said his fascination came naturally.

He said that he had a stack of research on the subject, but also that his experiences growing up in the mountains of north Georgia had proved convincing.

“Musicians were folks that not only could play a fiddle but they also were good mechanics,” he said. “They could fix your car.”

Legislators, as is their wont, have ideas of their own.

“I asked about the possibility of some Charlie Daniels or something like that,” said Representative Homer M. (Buddy) DeLoach, a Republican from Hinesville, “but they said they thought the classical music has a greater positive impact.”

“Having never studied those impacts too much,” Mr. DeLoach added, “I guess I’ll just have to take their word for that at the moment.”

In 2003, on January 13 at the Georgia Dome, Sonny Perdue took the oath of office as Georgia’s second Republican Governor, the first since Reconstruction.

A little over three years ago, on January 10, 2014, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution released a poll of the Georgia Governor’s race that showed Nathan Deal with 47 percent to 38 percent for Jason Carter. The nine-point Deal advantage was as close as the AJC polling firm would come all year to correctly predicting the point spread in the General Election.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

COMMITTEE MEETINGS

8:30 AM HOUSE APPROP GEN’L GOVERNMENT

9:00 AM HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS HEALTH 341 CAP

9:00 AM< HOUSE APPROP HUMAN RES 606 CLOB

Click here for live video feeds of today’s committee meetings.

Governor Nathan Deal announced his Administration Floor Leaders:

SENATE
Senator Butch Miller (R-Gainesville)
Senator P. K. Martin IV (R-Lawrenceville)
Senator Larry Walker III (R-Kathleen)

HOUSE
Rep. Terry Rogers (R-Clarkesville)
Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula)
Rep. Trey Rhodes (R-Greensboro)

Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) introduced Senate Bill 17, the “Mimosa Mandate,” to allow local governments to move the time for alcohol sales in restaurants from 12:30 PM to 10:30 AM. From the AJC:

Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairwoman Renee Unterman, R-Buford, does not drink, but said Senate Bill 17 is meant to correct what she considers a fairness issue: While privately owned restaurants in Georgia are banned from serving alcohol before 12:30 p.m. on Sundays, government-owned buildings — such as the Georgia World Congress Center — do not face such restrictions and are free to pour.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, has blocked similar efforts over the past two years, saying it would upset what he has called a “fragile compromise” between legislative leaders and the faith community over allowing any alcohol sales on Sunday mornings.

Still, the move so early in this year’s legislative session — Unterman filed the bill on Thursday, the session’s fourth day — has buoyed the hopes of supporters, which include the Georgia Restaurant Association. The association has estimated that at least 4,000 Georgia restaurants would likely take advantage if the law changed.

One in eight DeKalb County homeowners has seen water bills triple according to analysis by the AJC.

Congressman Hank Johnson (D-DeKalb) is holding a “Fourth District Day of Resistance” on Sunday.

Johnson will be joined Sunday by DeKalb CEO Mike Thurmond, state Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), Georgia NAACP President Francys Johnson, according to a news release.

Johnson is co-hosting the event from 2 to 4 p.m. with Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry at the Clarkston Community Center.

“Joined by faith leaders, environmentalists, seniors, students and immigration reform supporters among others, Johnson and Terry will gather to support Bernie Sanders’ nationwide call to oppose the Republican budget,” Johnson’s news release said.

State Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming) introduced House Bill 54, to expand the Rural Hospital Tax Credit from 70 percent to 90 percent. From the AJC:

A highly touted tax credit program designed to save rural hospitals has thus far been a major disappointment, and now state lawmakers are scrambling for a fix.

Deemed a “lifeline” for struggling rural hospitals, the tax credit program went live Jan. 3, but thus far, donors have applied for less than 2 percent of the available credits. State Rep. Geoff Duncan, R-Cumming, who sponsored legislation last year that created the program, introduced a new bill Thursday aimed at making the credits more attractive. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate.

The key to HB 54 is increasing the value of the tax credit from 70 percent of the donation to 90 percent. Duncan said many corporate donors have balked at only getting a 70 percent return on their contributions.

“Our rural communities cannot afford for this not to be a success,” said Duncan, who is considering a bid for statewide office in 2018.

State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) introduced House Resolution 36, to authorize a statewide referendum on medical cannabis.

From the Macon Telegraph:

“Its clear we’re going to have a hard time passing a cultivation bill (in the state Legislature) for the next two years. So why not put it in front of the voters, where every poll shows there’s clear evidence that voters support this?” Peake asked, just before handing his legislation to staffers on the state House floor.

Virginia Galloway, regional director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a national conservative group, said she thinks Georgia’s cannabis laws already put it in a dangerous place.

“I want double-blind placebo testing, just like is done on every other drug. And then we can make good policy decisions,” Galloway said.

She also sees medical cannabis as the first step down a road to recreational legalization.

The problem with recreational marijuana, she said, is “all those people standing over there who have lost family members to drug addiction,” pointing down the marble stairs of the state Capitol, toward folks making speeches for an addiction recovery awareness event.

What’s not yet set are the rules for any medical cannabis cultivation in Georgia: where would it be grown, who could grow it, where and how would it be sold? Would it mean just liquid products, or would it include things to smoke, eat or vape?

Peake’s own preference is for cultivation of specially bred cannabis in secure greenhouses by a handful of licensees, following the model of states like Minnesota.

Those questions would be answered in a separate bill. But Peake wants a vote on the broad idea of medicinal cultivation first. Then if there were a successful 2018 referendum, a newly elected governor and set of lawmakers would work on the rules in 2019.

Peake also introduced House Bill 65, to add several conditions to the list of those eligible for medical cannabis and to remove the “severe or end stage” requirement on conditions already eligible.

(3)(A) Cancer, when such diagnosis is end stage or the treatment disease produces related wasting illness, recalcitrant nausea, and vomiting;
(B) Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage;
(C) Seizure disorders related to diagnosis of epilepsy or trauma related head injuries;
(D) Multiple sclerosis, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage;
(E) Crohn’s disease;
(F) Mitochondrial disease;
(G) Parkinson’s disease, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage; or
(H) Sickle cell disease, when such diagnosis is severe or end stage;
(I) Tourette’s syndrome;
(J) Autism spectrum disorder;
(K) Intractable pain;
(L) Post-traumatic stress disorder;
(M) Alzheimer’s disease;
(N) Human immunodeficiency virus; or
(O) Acquired immune deficiency syndrome

and

(5) ‘Intractable pain’ means severe, debilitating pain that has not responded to previously prescribed medication or surgical measures for more than three months.

12
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 12, 2017

London

London is a young male Labrador Retriever and Basset Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coco’s Cupboard in Concord, GA. London is a sweet playful boy.

Regan

Regan is a young male Pit Bull Terrier & Labrador Retriever Mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coco’s Cupboard in Concord, GA. Regan is a sweet boy who love to please.

McCoy

McCoy is a 7-month old Labrador Retriever and Hound mix boy who is available for adoption from Coco’s Cupboard in Concord, GA. He will make a great family dog! He’s amazing with children and loves other dogs of all sizes.

12
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 12, 2017

On January 12, 1775, St. Andrews Parish on the Georgia coast passed a series of resolutions that included approving the actions of patriots in Massachusetts, three resolutions critical of British government actions, and a renunciation of slavery. The resolutions also appointed delegates to a provincial legislature at Savannah and urging that Georgia send two delegates to the Continental Congress to be held in Philadelphia the next year.

Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia on January 12, 1971.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

State of the State

Yesterday, Governor Nathan Deal delivered the State of the State address to the General Assembly.

You can read the full text of the Governor’s address here. Here are the economic toplines from the address.

That first year, 2011, I was just entering office as your governor. Our state was still in the grip of the Great Recession. Businesses were going bankrupt, homes were being foreclosed upon, jobs were being lost, our unemployment rate was 10.4 percent. Our rainy day fund was dangerously low at roughly $116 million – hardly enough to operate state government for two days.

The result: that 10.4 percent unemployment rate has dropped to 5.3 percent. Our Rainy Day Fund has increased to approximately $2.033 billion. With prudent budgeting, we have maintained a AAA bond rating. We have set new records in trade, film production and tourism.

We have laid the groundwork to improve our transportation infrastructure dramatically over the next 10 years. We have made our communities safer and offered hope to those with addiction or behavioral disabilities through our accountability courts. We have reduced the rate of recidivism and saved the taxpayers of Georgia millions of dollars, a great example of eliminating the negative. New private sector jobs have reached more than 575,000 and for four consecutive years, Georgia has been named the best state for business.

The budget for FY2018 is based on projected revenue growth of 3.6 percent over the amended FY2017 budget. It will allow us to sustain the important programs that are currently in place as well as address new areas that require attention.

11Alive notes several healthcare measures Deal mentioned:

Deal said he wants state lawmakers to expand mental health coverage for children younger than four in the state’s Medicaid and PeachCare programs.

Deal also wants to allow pharmacists to dispense an overdose-reversing drug over the counter. [Narcan/Naloxone]

Deal said he will ask state lawmakers to expand mental health coverage for children younger than four in the state’s Medicaid and PeachCare programs.

Fox5 Atlanta discusses education issues in the State of the State:

The governor announced that his budget proposal includes two percent pay raises for teachers that will be built into the state pay scale as well as raises for caseworkers with the Division of Family and Children Services, or DFCS, at an average of 19 percent.

“Currently, the greatest negative in the education landscape of Georgia is the number of children trapped in failing schools,” Deal said.  “Two years ago, there were 127 chronically failing schools with roughly 68,000 enrolled students. Now that we have the data from the last school year, we find that there were 153 schools that had a failing score for three consecutive years. Those 153 chronically underperforming schools served almost 89,000 students last school year.”

According to Governor Deal, the majority of the schools the state classifies as failing are elementary schools and that is where he wants to focus state reforms.

“Our prospects for addressing this issue will place an emphasis on elementary schools.  If we can reverse this alarming trend early on, if we can eliminate this negative that directly or indirectly affects all of us, we will see our reading comprehension scores, our math skills, our graduation rates and the quality of our workforce in general improve,” Deal told lawmakers.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

The governor dived deep into healthcare issues into his speech, urging the General Assembly to not move too quickly on Medicaid reforms because of expected changes to health care laws at the national level, including a likely repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

“We are very fortunate that former Georgia state senator and Congressman Tom Price is nominated to become the Health and Human Services secretary,” Deal said. “Hopefully very soon, the authority to make decisions regarding our state Medicaid program and how to design it in such a way that best fits the needs of our citizens will be returned to Georgia.”

There is one action related to Medicaid that Deal asked legislators to take however: Renewing the bed tax.

The bed tax, also known as hospital provider fee, is set to expire this year. While it generates about $311 million each year to help pay for Georgia’s Medicaid program, it also lets the state have access to another $600 million from the federal government. In all, $10.5 billion is expected to be spent on Medicaid in the next budget.

Deal said it is important for the General Assembly to renew the Department of Community Health Board’s authority to collect the hospital provider fee.

“If that authority is not renewed, the more than $900 million dollars now available to us for the Medicaid program will have to be made up elsewhere in our allocations,” Deal said. “Therefore, I encourage you to reauthorize the authority expeditiously so that we do not have to take away from other portions of the budget.”

Deal also announced plans to work with Sen. Renee Unterman and Reps. Sharon Cooper and Katie Dempsey to improve Medicaid and state health benefits coverage for people with autism up to the age of 21. He is also planning to ask the legislature to approve $2.5 million in the budget to provide Medicaid and PeachCare to kids who have behavioral and mental health issues.

Deal is planning to have the state take out another $3 million in bonds to fund construction of a facility that will serve veterans who have suffered traumatic brain injuries or PTSD. The state previously took out $3 million in bonds last year for the facility.

Other veterans-related initiatives include training for state employees on state-provided services to help veterans, and hiring a women veterans coordinator who will work with female veterans on issues including sexual assault and counseling.

Georgia Health News has more information on the healthcare related aspects:

Deal unveiled a record $25 billion spending plan for fiscal 2018, which begins July 1.

He also cautioned lawmakers not to take “giant leaps’’ on state health care policy until the U.S. Congress acts on Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Republicans who control Congress, along with Donald Trump, who becomes president next week, have pledged to repeal the ACA.

Deal said in his address that his budget plan would include about $2.5 million to expand children’s mental health services under Medicaid and PeachCare. Currently, he said, that coverage is only available to children of age 4 and older. It would be extended to younger children under Deal’s proposal.

Deal also advocated that mental health services be improved for military veterans. “They have given of themselves to protect us,’’ Deal said in his address. “It is only fitting that we should protect them in kind.”

As expected, Deal pushed for the renewal of the hospital provider fee, which would plug a large hole in the state’s Medicaid budget. The funding would help draw more than $600 million from the federal government.

“If that authority is not renewed, the more than $900 million dollars now available to us for the Medicaid program will have to be made up elsewhere in our allocations,’’ Deal said. “Therefore, I encourage you to reauthorize the authority expeditiously so that we do not have to take away from other portions of the budget.”

The budget plan contains $17.9 million to raise Medicaid pay for primary care doctors and OB/GYNs.  “Without adequate funding for our physicians, we will not be able to maintain the proper quality of providers in our Medicaid program,” Deal said.

And the governor said he aims to enhance coverage for autism treatment in Medicaid and the State Health Benefit Plan for those up to age 21, with $20.8 million set aside for this proposal.

Legislative Committee Meetings

1:00 PM APPROPRIATIONS FULL COMMITTEE MEETING 341 CAP

1:15 PM APPROPRIATIONS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT-TIME CHANGED TO 1:15P 406 CLOB

1:15 PM APPROPRIATIONS HUMAN RESOURCES 403 CAP

2:00 PM APPROPRIATIONS PUBLIC SAFETY 515 CLOB

2:00 PM APPROPRIATIONS HIGHER ED 341 CAP

2:00 PM APPROPRIATIONS GENERAL GOVERNMENT 415 CLOB

3:00 PM APPROPRIATIONS EDUCATION 341 CAP

State House Committee Chairs

The State House Committee on Assignments announced 2017-18 Committee Chairs:

Committee chairmen for the legislative term are as follows:

  • Agriculture & Consumer Affairs – Rep. Tom McCall
  • Appropriations – Rep. Terry England
  • Banks & Banking – Rep. Greg Morris
  • Budget & Fiscal Affairs Oversight – Rep. Chuck Martin
  • Code Revision – Rep. Buzz Brockway
  • Defense & Veterans Affairs – Rep. Bill Hitchens
  • Economic Development & Tourism – Rep. Ron Stephens
  • Education – Rep. Brooks Coleman
  • Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications – Rep. Don Parsons
  • Ethics – Rep. Randy Nix
  • Game, Fish & Parks – Rep. David Knight
  • Governmental Affairs – Rep. Ed Rynders
  • Health & Human Services – Rep. Sharon Cooper
  • Higher Education – Rep. Rick Jasperse
  • Human Relations & Aging – Rep. Tommy Benton
  • Industry & Labor – Rep. Brian Strickland
  • Information & Audits – Rep. Darlene Taylor
  • Insurance – Rep. Richard Smith
  • Interstate Cooperation – Rep. Matt Dollar
  • Intragovernmental Coordination – Rep. Jan Tankersley
  • Judiciary – Rep. Wendell Willard
  • Judiciary (Non-Civil) – Rep. Rich Golick
  • Juvenile Justice – Rep. Mandi Ballinger
  • Legislative & Congressional Reapportionment – Rep. Johnnie Caldwell
  • MARTOC – Rep. Tom Taylor
  • Motor Vehicles – Rep. Bubber Epps
  • Natural Resources & Environment – Rep. Lynn Smith
  • Public Safety & Homeland Security – Rep. Alan Powell
  • Regulated Industries – Rep. Howard Maxwell
  • Retirement – Rep. Paul Battles
  • Rules – Rep. John Meadows
  • Science & Technology – Rep. Ed Setzler
  • Small Business Development – Rep. Chad Nimmer
  • Special Rules – Rep. Buddy Harden
  • State Planning & Community Affairs – Rep. Jimmy Pruett
  • State Properties – Rep. Gerald Greene
  • Transportation – Rep. Kevin Tanner
  • Ways & Means – Rep. Jay Powell

Chairmen of the subcommittees of Appropriations are as follows:

  • Economic Development – Rep. Penny Houston
  • Education – Rep. Robert Dickey
  • General Government – Rep. Amy Carter
  • Health – Rep. Butch Parrish
  • Higher Education – Rep. Earl Ehrhart
  • Human Resources – Rep. Katie Dempsey
  • Public Safety – Rep. Andy Welch
  • Transportation & Infrastructure – Rep. Jason Shaw

The Committee on Assignments also appointed members of two working groups of the House. Working groups differ from standing committees in that they are term-limited and will expire at the end of this legislative session. These working groups have been tasked with working on legislation relating to military affairs and medical cannabis, respectively.  The chairmen of these two working groups are as follows:

  • Medical Cannabis – Rep. Allen Peake
  • Military Affairs – Rep. Dave Belton

Maggie Lee of the Macon Telegraph looks at the new Medical Cannabis Working Group:

House Speaker David Ralson, R-Blue Ridge, announced the formation of the group on Wednesday. The chair will be Macon Republican state Rep. Allen Peake, author of the state’s medical cannabis possession law.

“I think the naming of this committee just reinforces that this is a real priority for the House, a real priority for Speaker Ralston. And I think that’s a good thing for a lot of Georgia citizens who could potentially benefit,” Peake said.

The new group will be able to hold hearings, and its members will be able to file bills.

Peake has announced two medical cannabis legislative plans this year. First, he will ask fellow lawmakers to set up a 2018 statewide referendum on the cultivation of medical cannabis in Georgia. Second, he wants to open Georgia’s medical cannabis registry to people who have more diagnoses, including post-traumatic stress disorder, autism and chronic pain.

Asked about Peake’s in-state cultivation proposal, Ralson said during a news conference last week, “What I think is important is that we be able to fulfill the promise that was contained in the original (medical cannabis registry) legislation providing access to Georgians.”

Georgia Chamber Focuses on Rural Areas

At the Eggs & Issues breakfast earlier this week, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce announced a new focus on economic issues in rural Georgia.

A key element in the plan will involve reaching out to rural Georgia by forming a new committee to address rural issues and, for the first time, opening a regional office to focus on strengthening the rural economy.

“We can’t have a healthy economy if over half of our counties lose population and close hospitals,” chamber President Chris Clark said during the chamber’s annual Eggs and Issues breakfast at the Georgia World Congress Center.

And from Maggie Lee at the Macon Telegraph:

The chamber will work on legislation to help businesses in rural Georgia, he said, such as making it easier to navigate the complex business of providing broadband internet. The chamber will also hold more events statewide and open a regional office in Tifton that will focus on rural economic prosperity.

“I am excited about the emphasis on rural Georgia,” said Nipper Bunn, chairman of the board of the Forsyth-Monroe County Chamber of Commerce, who was watching from a table at the side of the packed room.

“It seems as though we’ve had ‘two Georgias’ for quite a while,” Bunn said, using a political phrase that’s been around more than two decades. One of the Georgias consists of the mostly urban and suburban counties that attract the most new residents, jobs and investments. The other Georgia is the rest of the state.

11
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for January 11, 2017

jello

Jello is a young male Basset Hound mix who is available for adoption from Saving Georgia Dogs Rescue in Barnesville, GA. He is very sweet and very low to the ground. He is friendly with other dogs and is looking for a forever home.

tally

Tally is a 2-year old, 60-pound female Giant Schnauzer mix who is available for adoption from Saving Georgia Dogs Rescue in Barnesville, GA.

batman

Batman is a male German Shepherd and Collie mix who is available for adoption from Saving Georgia Dogs Rescue in Barnesville, GA. He is a sweet boy, and would make a wonderful companion.

11
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 11, 2017

Marvin Griffin of Bainbridge was inaugurated as Governor of Georgia on January 11, 1955.

Marvin Griffin Monument

The first inauguration of Governor Joe Frank Harris was held on January 11, 1983.

On January 11, 1989, President Ronald Reagan gave his farewell speech.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

sots

Governor Nathan Deal delivers the State of the State address today at 11 AM in the House Chamber. You can watch the live feed online at GPB.Continue Reading..

10
Jan

Adoptable (Official) Dogs for January 10, 2017

gatsby

Gatsby (above) and Denver (below) are young male Boxer mix puppies who are available for adoption from Animal Ark in Columbus, GA.

The two boys and their littermates came into the rescue after their mother was killed by a car and the puppies were discovered under a house.

denver

molly

Molly is a young female Shepherd and Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Ark in Columbus, GA.

10
Jan

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for January 10, 2017

Georgia and American History

On January 10, 1868, the Georgia Equal Rights Association was formed in Augusta.

On January 10, 1870, the Georgia General Assembly convened and seated African-American legislators who had been expelled in 1868.

Eugene Talmadge was sworn-in to his first term as Governor of Georgia on January 10, 1933.

Talmadge fired elected officials who resisted his authority. Others were thrown out of their offices. Literally.

After Julian Bond’s election to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, the chamber voted against seating him ostensibly because he had publicly state his opposition to the war in Vietnam. On January 10, 1967, after the United States Supreme Court held the legislature had denied Bond his right to free speech, he was seated as a member of the State House.

Governor Nathan Deal was sworn-in as the 82d Governor of Georgia on January 10, 2011 while snow shut down the planned public Inaugural.

Georgia Politics

Senator David Shafer was reelected yesterday as President Pro Tempore and David Ralston was reelected as Speaker of the House.

Today, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce hosts Eggs & Issues at the Georgia World Congress Center. This morning’s event includes U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, Governor Nathan Deal, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, and House Speaker David Ralston.

Governor Nathan Deal will deliver the State of the State address at 11 AM on Wednesday in the Georgia House Chamber. At 1:30 PM, Deal Chief of Staff Chris Riley and Budget Director Teresa MacCartney will deliver a media briefing on the Governor’s proposed state budget.

State House leaders passed an adjournment resolution setting the schedule of legislative days through February 2d.

adjournment-resolution

Tuesday, January 10……….Legislative Day 2
Wednesday, January 11…..Legislative Day 3
Thursday, January 12……..Legislative Day 4

Monday, January 23……….Legislative Day 5
Tuesday, January 24……….Legislative Day 6
Wednesday, January 25…..Legislative Day 7
Thursday, January 26……..Legislative Day 8

Monday, January 30……….Legislative Day 5
Tuesday, January 31……….Legislative Day 2
Wednesday, February 1…..Legislative Day 3
Thursday, February 2……..Legislative Day 4

Committee Meetings

2:00 PM JOINT EDUCATION AND YOUTH 606 CLOB

Senate Committee Leadership Announcements

Sen. Brandon Beach (R – Alpharetta) will serve as chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.
Sen. Ellis Black (R – Valdosta) will serve as chair of the Senate Retirement Committee.
Sen. Mike Dugan (R – Carrollton) will serve as chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee.
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R – Rome) will serve as chair of the Senate Finance Committee and as vice chair of the Senate Retirement Committee.
Sen. Burt Jones (R – Jackson) will serve as chair of the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee.
Sen. William Ligon (R – Brunswick) will serve as chair of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and as vice chair of the Senate Ethics and Reapportionment and Redistricting Committees.
Sen. Jesse Stone (R – Waynesboro) will serve as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Ben Watson (R – Savannah) will serve as chair of the Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee.
Sen. Lee Anderson (R – Grovetown) will serve as vice chair of the Senate Agriculture and Science and Technology Committees.
Sen. Matt Brass (R – Newnan) will serve as vice chair of the Senate Economic Development Committee.
Sen. Dean Burke (R – Bainbridge) will serve as vice chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Sen. John Kennedy (R – Macon) will serve as vice chair of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.
Sen. P.K. Martin (R – Lawrenceville) will serve as vice chair of the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations and Higher Education Committees.
Sen. Blake Tillery (R – Vidalia) will serve as vice chair of the Senate State Institutions and Properties Committee.

The Georgia State House now counts among its members the first Latina state legislator and the first openly gay male legislator.

State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) would prefer to decouple local Macon-Bibb elections from primary elections.

“This past election cycle, I didn’t even get to vote for myself in the Republican primary,” state Rep. Allen Peake said. That’s because a couple of key county races were going to get decided in the Democratic primary, and he wanted to vote in them instead of his own shoo-in primary.

“If I wanted to have a say-so in who was going to be the next … sheriff and tax commissioner, … then I needed to vote in the Democratic primary. And that’s crazy,” Peake said.

So he’s filing a bill in the state Legislature that could give each county’s group of lawmakers the right to erase the “D” or “R” behind the names of candidates for tax commissioner, sheriff, district attorney, coroner, and Superior Court clerk.

For a Republican would-be coroner or tax commissioner, Macon-Bibb County looks like a tough place to win office. As a whole, the county tends to vote blue, according to the last couple of years of election results.

Conversely, in red-voting Houston County, it can be hard for Democrats. The races that Peake’s bill addresses were all Republican walkovers last year.

So Peake sees a problem: voters who don’t get a say in a particular local race because the party they prefer doesn’t run a candidate.

But state Sen. David Lucas is against the idea of taking away party labels in a place that’s solidly blue.

“So now Mr. Peake wants to do what he’s always done and that is to try and destroy the Democratic Party,” Lucas said.

On Josh McKoon

State Senator Josh McKoon has lost his committee chairmanship in the Senate.

Following through with a plan put in place less than two weeks ago, the Georgia Senate Republican leadership stripped controversial Columbus state Sen. Josh McKoon of his leadership position, McKoon confirmed late Monday.

It was done as part of a new rules package put in place on the first day of the 2017 session.

McKoon, starting his seventh year in the Senate representing District 29, had been chairman of the Judiciary Committee for four years. In late December, the Republican caucus met in Atlanta to set the rules for the 2017 General Assembly session. The group then decided to eliminate one of the three judiciary committees.

Rep. Richard Smith, R-Columbus, said there were two high-level meetings in which he was told that McKoon’s behavior was an issue and it was going to cost the Columbus region state funding. McKoon has contended that the CSU funding was not necessary for 2016 and will likely be in the 2017 budget.

The Senate also made a change that impacts the timing of bills making their way through the process in the closing days of the 40-day session. Called “Crossover Day,” the deadline for bills starting in the House to reach the Senate and starting in the Senate and reaching the House was changed to the 28th day of the session. In year’s past it was Day 30.

There’s been plenty of crowing about it by his enemies.

Those who think this rebuke, if that’s what it is, will silence McKoon are probably mistaken. After all, “The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.” I’d be surprised if McKoon loses any popularity on the GOP Speaker’s circuit or among his district’s Republican primary voters.

But beyond that, we may have lost sight of a relatively recent bit of political history. Think with me all the way back to 2008, when a well-respected Chairman of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee challenged the reigning Speaker of the House. The upstart lost that race, and as a result, also lost his committee chairmanship, being demoted to Vice Chair of House Judiciary.

Less than two years later, the House member who lost his Chairmanship took the gavel and State Rep. David Ralston was elected Speaker of the House, where he still commands the rostrum.

I’m not comparing Sen. McKoon to Speaker Ralston, but the Senator’s current position isn’t entirely unlike the situation that the Speaker faced back in 2008.

Campaigns and Elections

Republican Chuck Payne and Democrat Debby Peppers face off in a Special Runoff Election for State Senate today.

The special election is being held because Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Charlie Bethel, a Republican from Dalton who had just been re-elected to the Senate in November, to the Georgia Court of Appeals. Bethel began those duties earlier this month. The district includes all of Whitfield and Murray counties and parts of Gordon and Pickens counties.

Payne, a former chairman of the Whitfield County Republican Party, received the most votes in the five-way special election on Dec. 13 with 1,792 (36.1 percent). Peppers, a former member of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners, received the second most votes with 1,361 (27.42 percent). Since no one received a majority of the vote, state law required that the two candidates who received the most votes meet in a runoff to decide the winner.

During the campaign, Payne has focused on his conservative credentials while Peppers has said she will be an independent voice in the Legislature if elected. The special election is nonpartisan, but the candidates could list a party preference. Payne listed his party affiliation as Republican on the ballot. Peppers did not list an affiliation but has said she will caucus with the Democratic Party if elected.

State Rep. Chuck Martin has dropped out of the Sixth Congressional District special election to be held later this year, according to Kyle Wingfield of the AJC.

“When you really look at it, to run and win, you have to leave the community you love to do the job,” Martin said. “I felt like I would lose touch with my family and community. That’s just not me.”

The former Alpharetta mayor said he knew the race would be extremely competitive. “I had good feedback” about possibly getting in the race, he said. “I think we would have had support.”

At the end, he said, the prospect of starting over from the standpoint of building relationships and political capital was too much.

“I was never going to be in Washington 10 or 12 years from now,” he said. That wouldn’t have been my plan. It has re-energized me for what we’re doing down here (in the state legislature), though.”

Roy Daniels, a physician from Cobb County, joins the candidate field for Senate District 32, which Judson Hill will vacate in his run for Congress. Click here to visit his website.

Daniels joins the previously announced Dr. Kay Kirkpatrick and lawyer Gus Makris.

 

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