Georgia Political News for February 25, 2012 Weekend Edition

25
Feb

Georgia Political News for February 25, 2012 Weekend Edition

Today’s adoptable dog is “Pooky,” a female Great Pyrenees at the Walton County Animal Shelter. She’s available immediately from an owner turn-in and the previous owner said she’s very sweet with kids and other dogs. As long as you don’t keep livestock, the problem that led to her being surrendered won’t affect you. Turns out she like chasing chickens and goats.

If you think Pooky looks like a match but you need more information about the breed, head over to Great Pyrenees Rescue and learn about the big, fluffy white dogs.

Here’s the weirdest speech from the floor of a state legislature we’ve ever seen. Pray it doesn’t get reprised in the Georgia debate on abortion.

Tonight you can join me at the “Daniel Needs a Kidney Fundraiser and Mixer,” From 6-10 PM at the Georgia Democratic Party’s Headquarters. Republican attending the event have been promised partisan amnesty for the evening.

Saturday voting is in full effect today. Early voting this year has been reduced from 45 days to 21 days. Voters may request an absentee ballot for the March 6th Presidential Preference election through this Friday, Mar. 3d.

In Memoriam

Lance Cpl. Corey A. Little, who graduated from Sandy Creek High School in Fayette County and attended Southern Polytechic, gave his life in a helicopter crash during night training along the Arizona-California border. Please join us in thanking the family of Lance Cpl. Little and praying for them. He is survived by his pregnant wife, Nicole, brother Nickolas and mother Wanda.

This morning, Capt. Nicholas Whitlock who was killed a week ago in Africa in the service of the United States Air Force, returns to Coweta County, where his funeral will be held on Sunday at First Baptist Church in Newnan. His family asks that donations in his memory be made to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, provides full scholarship grants and educational and family counseling to the surviving children of special operations personnel who die in operational or training missions and immediate financial assistance to severely wounded special operations personnel and their families. Surviving Captain Whitlock are his wife, Ashley Oddi Whitlock of Destin, Fla.; parents, Jimmy and Clare Whitlock of Newnan; brothers, James and Robert Whitlock of Newnan; grandparents, Wendell and Elva Whitlock of Newnan and Henry and Clare Schade of Florida; two nieces and a nephew. We pray for the family.

Captain Whitlock flew in surveillance and intelligence gathering operations in a plane based on the Pilatus PC-12, a popular plane among private aviators.

Legislative News

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers‘s (R-Woodstock) Senate Bill 153, passed the Senate unanimously and will require that employees of local school systems who lose their jobs for finanancial reasons and through no fault of their own will be provided written documentation of that fact. This is a great bill, and I’d like to see the concept extended to all government employees who lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

The Senate passed SB 474 by Sen. Fran Millar (R-Pronounced “Miller”), which reduces the length of eligibility for unemployment benefits in order to help pay back more than $700 million borrowed from the Federales. The bill passed 34-13 on a party line vote with Democrats criticizing the bill. Several senators questioned whether state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler was doing enough to address the debt.

Senate Bill 474, introduced by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R- Upper Left Hand Corner) would created under GRTA a regional transit council including local elected officials to coordinate local transit systems. The outlook for the bill looks dim as elected officials from Fulton and DeKalb counties are walking away.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp asked the Senate to withdraw SB 445 from consideration. The bill aimed to reduce the expense and time of applying for professional licenses.

Georgia counties are concerned that juvenile justice reform might cost them more money.

Senator Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) sent out a weekly review for his constituents that reviews legislation he introduced and major Senate bills.

Senator Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) told the AP that he will not seek to pass a “personhood” constitutional amendment this year, preferring to support house legislaiton aimed at reducing abortions.

Executive Branch News

Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Robert C. McBurney to the Superior Court for the Atlanta Judicial Circuit (Fulton County). McBurney will take over the seat vacated by the resignation of former Judge Marvin Arrington; he served as senior litigation counsel with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia and has received the FBI Director’s Award for Outstanding Counterterrorism Investigation, Council of Inspectors General Award for Excellence and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association National Award for Prosecutorial Excellence.

Gov. Deal also announced that Georgia State University will match scholarships provided by the new privately-funded REACH need-based scholarship, joining Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia.

The Georgia Department of Labor, under Commissioner Mark Butler, will hold a career expo for veterans seeking employment on Feb. 29, 2012  from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Clairmont Presbyterian Church, 1994 Clairmont Rd in Decatur. For more information about the expo, contact the North Metro Career Center at (404) 679-5200.

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black launched the Georgia Grown Executive Chef Program during the annual Taste of Georgia Legislative Reception. The program is designed to recognize culinary excellence and promote Georgia-grown crops.

The chefs participating in the inaugural 2012 program include: 
- Holly Chute, Executive Chef, Georgia Governor’s Mansion;
- Michael Deihl, CEC CCA AAC, Executive Chef, East Lake Golf Club;
- Kevin Gillespie, Executive Chef, Woodfire Grill Atlanta; and
- Hilary White, Executive Chef, The Hil, A Restaurant at Serenbe

Campaign news

President Obama’s trip to Georgia on March 16th will include an event at Tyler Perry Studios.

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson was in Athens yesterday attending the Georgia Libertarian Party’s state convention as he seeks the Libertarian nomination for President.

Republican candidates for the 2d Congressional district will debate on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 7 PM at the Century Fire Station, located at 934 U.S. Highway 19 South, in Leesburg, Ga.

Local News

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Charter Review Commission Chair John Shinkle disagree whether to place a $500 “basic city services” fee on the November ballot. Tomlinson believes the fee will result in higher property taxes for 83% of homeowners and will only apply to those who would otherwise pay less than $500 in property taxes.

The Haralson County school system has applied to the state board of education to operate as a charter school system.

The City of Dunwoody has hired former DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson to investigate leaks of information regarding a proposed real estate transaction. The transaction was discussed privately in executive session, which is allowed under state law.

Railroads, Ports and Freight

The Georgia Department of Transportation and Department of Economic Development released a report that details the state’s priorities for expanding the intermodal freight system. Included in the report are the fact that the logistics industry contributes 18 percent of Georgia’s gross state product, and includes more than 5000 companies employing more than 110,000 Georgians and generating $50 billion in annual sales.

Norfolk Southern has delivered some of the heaviest components for Plant Vogtle nuclear reactor units 3 and 4. The 3600-ton steam condenser is arriving in pieces as prefabricated parts. The parts are transferred through the Port of Savannah after an ocean voyage from Korea.

January saw drops in total imports for most US Ports, but the Port of Savannah saw a 3 percent increase, while February and March are expected to continue the trend of increasing freight traffic there.

The largest ship ever to call on the Port of Savannah arrived yesterday and is expected to leave today. MCS Roma could only call on the port and depart with a partial load and near high tide because of the need to deepen the river channel that allows access to the port. Here’s a video of the ship.

Earlier this week, United States Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss briefed Acting U.S. Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project and its needed role in creating jobs in Georgia during a tour of the facility. Blank said. “The Port of Savannah is an important part of that bi-partisan priority. I enjoyed learning about the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project firsthand. Building a state-of-the-art, modern port is key to creating an economy that’s built to last.”

Random

According to a poll by proponents of horse racing, 72 percent of Georgians favor allowing a statewide referendum on horse racing that includes pari-mutuel betting. I’m betting against it.

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