On November 17, 1732, the first English headed to colonize Georgia set off from Gravesend, England, down the Thames. Their supplies included ten tons of beer.
On November 17, 1777, Congress submitted the Articles of Confederation to the states for ratification.
Abraham Lincoln began the first draft of the Gettysburg Address on November 17, 1863.
Herman Talmadge was sworn in as Governor of Georgia on November 17, 1948, ending the “Three Governors” controversy. Click here for a review of the “Three Governors” episode by Ron Daniels.
Richard Nixon declared before a television audience, “I’m not a crook,” on November 17, 1973.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Former Georgia Governor Carl Sanders has died.
Moving forward in Washington
Longtime Jack Kingston spokesman Chris Crawford will serve as Chief of Staff to newly-elected Congressman Buddy Carter, while David Perdue started hiring Washington staff last week. Congressman-elect Rick Allen is working on hiring a chief of staff.
Allen said he had three strong candidates to interview for chief of staff. Coming off a victory over Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow of Augusta that surprised many in Washington, Allen is the only Georgia newcomer taking over for a member of the opposite party. That means if there are any staff holdovers from the previous regime, they likely would be handling case work in the district — given Washington staffers’ party segregation.
Meanwhile, the new kids in the House and Senate are trying to learn their ways around Washington.
Georgia’s freshmen come from varied backgrounds. [Buddy] Carter, a pharmacist, spent a decade under the Gold Dome in the state House and Senate. Almost the entire time, [Barry] Loudermilk, a 50-year-old small-business owner and Air Force veteran, sat directly behind Carter.
Representative-elect Jody Hice, 54, of Monroe has never held elected office, but the former minister and talk show host has been involved in political causes for years. Starting in 2003 he battled the American Civil Liberties Union over a Ten Commandments display at the Barrow County Courthouse, and he ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2010.
Representative-elect Rick Allen, 63, of Evans spent his adult life building a successful construction company in Augusta. He ran for Congress and lost in 2012 before coming back this year.
Senator-elect David Perdue, 64, had a career spanning the globe that includes CEO stints at Fortune 500 companies before making his first run for office this year.
For now they’re all newbies, getting lost in the Capitol and searching for a place to work.
The House Republican Caucus in Washington adopted a rule that would require Chairmen of major committees or subcommittees to step down from that post (but not their seat in Congress) if they run for another office.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) could face the choice of either being chairman of the powerful, tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee or running for president.
House Republicans passed an internal rule this morning requiring that committee or subcommittee chairmen offer to give up their gavel if they run for another elected office, unless GOP leaders give them a waiver.
“If you’re running for a major office, you don’t have the time to do the job anymore,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R., Okla.), who introduced the measure.
Not all House lawmakers thought the rule change was needed. Rep. Jack Kingston (R., Ga.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services and Education panel, said he was able to fulfill the duties of his post during his unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate this year. He lost to Sen.-elect David Perdue in the GOP primary.
“When I decided to run for Senate, I offered to give up the gavel, but we decided to play it by ear. I did all the hearings; I did not miss any of them,” Mr. Kingston said. “I just don’t know you need a blanket rule, because if you do, you deny yourself some real institutional knowledge.”
Unidentified staff aides say that Kingston himself is part of the reason for the new rule:
Aides said the rule arose from frustration that Rep. Jack Kingston, chairman of the Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee, would not introduce or act on the panel’s important spending bill while running in a divisive GOP primary for Georgia’s Senate seat. Kingston’s predecessor, former Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., did the same thing in the 2012 campaign cycle.
When unnamed staff are the source for a quote, I always suspect that it’s internal politics or axe-grinding.
Looking ahead under the Gold Dome
Today begins the “pre-filing” season in which state legislators can start dropping bills to be taken up in the 2015 Session of the Georgia General Assembly, which will convene on the second monday in January – January 12, 2015.
After a series of public meetings, State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) is drafting a medical cannabis bill.
Peake said recently he expects to have a draft bill soon and it will allow for a limited number of businesses to obtain a state license to grow and process marijuana for the sole purpose of providing the cannabis oil under a system in which people of all ages with certain medical conditions would be able to obtain it under the supervision of a doctor. The amount of the psychoactive compound known as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, would be limited and facilities would be subject to regulations, lab testing and security measures.
“I feel very confident that my colleagues want to move forward with a public policy that provides a very tightly restricted, very regulated delivery system for cannabis oil in Georgia,” Peake said, adding he’s aware of 15 families who have left Georgia for Colorado and other states for access to the cannabis oil and three children have died while lawmakers have been debating the issue. “We can’t move fast enough.”
Law enforcement’s top concerns include security at the facilities and specific civil and criminal penalties for violators. The Georgia Sheriffs’ Association also indicated they would oppose a bill if law enforcement agencies weren’t granted warrantless access to the facilities for monitoring. Association President, Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin, said members worry the bill could send mixed messages to the public.
“We want to be there to help,” Griffin said at an Oct. 1 hearing. “That is our job to help people, but we are also very, very concerned about the perception that this bill would lead to people thinking you could smoke marijuana for medical purposes.”
Peake said he feels confident the bill will address those concerns. Much more difficult might be confronting concerns of some in the medical community who first want to see the results of various clinical trials underway nationally and soon in Georgia. Dr. Cynthia Wetmore, director for clinical and translational research at Children’s Health Care of Atlanta, advised lawmakers to be cautious.
“To give something as powerful as cannabidiol oil really needs to be done initially within the confines of a clinical trial so there are medical professionals able to help these children monitor liver function, monitor their psychiatric outlook so we are able to do it safely,” Wetmore said at a Nov. 12 hearing. “I would only do it within the realm of a clinical study until it’s proven safe.”
State Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) expects to be back for another attempt at passing a state Religious Freedom bill in 2015.
State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, tells CL that he plans to reintroduce another “religious freedom” bill when state lawmakers convene in January. McKoon says his proposal will help protect the right to free exercise of religious beliefs across the state.
“Religious pluralism is one of the foundation stones of this country,” McKoon says. “Sending a message that people of every faith are welcome in this state, and don’t have to worry about government trampling their right to free exercise, is something we should want to champion.”
McKoon says his bill will contain similar language to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 21-year-old federal law designed to block measures that limit a person’s free exercise of religion, which currently doesn’t exist at the state level in Georgia. The state senator’s law wouldn’t be the first in the country: 19 states have adopted RFRA laws that mirror the federal measure following a 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision that weakened the law’s protections at both the local and state level. In addition, more than a dozen other states have passed similar legislation to bolster religious rights.
The Chamber took a first step that will put the very powerful organization in opposition to “religious liberty” bills certain to be re-introduced when the General Assembly convenes in January.
The Chamber’s policy statement, while not yet finalized, is intended as a signal to Republican leadership in the state Capitol. An early line in the sand.
“Practices that open the door to discrimination or create the perception that Georgia supports a discriminatory business environment would threaten our competitiveness,” Chamber spokeswoman Joselyn Baker said. “It would likely discourage some investments, and possibly affect our ability to attract the kind of quality workforce that we need for the future.”
The ACCG’s top legislative priorities include increased funding for counties to implement new reforms to the juvenile justice system, changes to property tax administration and transportation funding.
ACCG is recommending that state lawmakers study funding and staffing for juvenile courts.
It also suggests moving the deadline for the submission of county tax digests from Aug. 1 to Sept. 1; authorize superior court clerks to investigate complaints against the state Board of Equalization, which handles tax appeals; and allow tax commissioners to send tax bills electronically to save on mailing costs.
With regard to transportation funding, the ACCG suggests increasing the state motor fuel tax to provide additional revenue to the Georgia Department of Transportation, as well as transferring additional revenue from this tax out of the general fund to specifically fund transportation projects.
The Georgia Craft Brewer’s Guild has hired lobbying firm Thrash Group, helmed by consultants Mo Thrash and John Haliburton, and launched an online crowdfunding campaign to raise $30,000 for their legislative reform efforts.
Nancy Palmer, executive director of the trade guild, said the members’ top priorities are allowing off-premise sales for brew pubs and on- and off-premise sales for production breweries.
Under the Peach State’s current laws, brew pubs like Savannah’s Moon River Brewing Co. — or any restaurant that brews its own beer — can sell beer on premises but not in to-go containers for off-premise consumption.
The laws are even more restrictive for production microbreweries such as Southbound and Service Brewing Co. They prohibit any form of direct alcohol sales to consumers, meaning no pint glasses, growlers, kegs or six-packs.
These breweries are allowed to hold tastings and tours but can’t charge or even serve peanuts to customers to accompany their beer samples.
“We want to rectify all of that. We want retail sales direct to consumers for both breweries and brew pubs,” said Palmer.
Georgia is one of just five states that does not allow any form of retail at production breweries, and Palmer said it’s hurting Georgia’s competitiveness, especially in the Southeast.
“It’s important to note that though our industry is growing, and it is, that we’re not growing at the rate that national trends suggest that we should be,” said Palmer.
After the successful passage of the statewide referendum to ensure that University System of Georgia facilities remain property-tax exempt, even if operated by a private company, Corvias Campus Living will enter into a major agreement to develop and manage student housing.
Corvias Group, announced today that Corvias Campus Living, the company’s student housing division, has been chosen by the Board of Regents (BOR) of the University System of Georgia (USG) to develop, construct, manage and maintain student housing in the first phase of an unprecedented Public-Private Partnership (P3). Phase 1 will include 3,683 new beds and 6,195 existing beds totaling over 3 million square feet across nine of the USG’s 31 campuses.
“Quality, safe, affordable housing for students is our priority,” said Chancellor Hank Huckaby. “We expect our initiative will generate innovation, operating efficiencies and best practices in student housing to improve the quality of the on-campus housing experience for our students.”
The partnership represents a unique approach in student housing because it is the first time a state system has initiated the privatization of student housing through a portfolio of campuses. Corvias has approached this as an opportunity to listen, understand and create solutions that are unattainable through traditional real estate or P3 structures.
Looking back at 2014 Elections
Daily Beast reports that in some other states, Democrats switched their strategy in the waning days of the 2014 Elections.
The Daily Beast has learned that in the crucial swing states of Iowa, North Carolina, and Colorado, the DSCC made a decision in September to put an increased emphasis on persuasion, talking undecided voters into supporting Democratic candidates rather than turning out its base voters. In other words, instead of going after the type of people who reliably vote Democrat but don’t reliably show up on Election Day, they focused on voters who were somewhat more likely to vote but hadn’t firmly made up their minds
These undecided, persuadable voters were identified via a computer model that ranked and ordered voters as targets of persuasion not just through volunteer contact but through direct-mail paid media as well. The problem was that, at least in Iowa, this model was imperfect.
According to information obtained by The Daily Beast, the universe of persuasion targets in the Hawkeye State according to this model included 33 percent Republicans and 50 percent independents. These voters were contacted by volunteers and received at least 10 different pieces of direct mail in addition to whatever television and radio advertisements they saw or listened to. Initial data indicate that more than 60 percent of voters in this group who actually turned out on Election Day supported Republican candidates.
This was compounded by making overly optimistic assumptions about independent voters who had signed up for absentee ballots in Iowa.
Huffington Post is digging into why polling was different this year.
As HuffPollster noted in reporting on Gallup’s troubles in 2012, past investigations of polling misfires typically identified not one big culprit, but a series of smaller issues all creating a statistical bias in the same direction. While firm conclusions about this year’s results are still premature, here are three theories that may explain why polls tended to understate Republicans in the days and weeks leading up to the election.
These hypotheses are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they all derive from the same basic idea: that polls may have been out of sync with an underlying Republican advantages on political fundamentals, which drove both turnout and trends in voter preferences.
First, Republican Senate candidates benefited from a modest upward trend over the course of the campaign. As HuffPollster reported before the election, polls showed all but one of the Republicans in the most competitive Senate races improving their standing against their Democratic opponents between early September and Election Day.
These trends followed a pattern predicted by political analyst Sean Trende and by Republican pollster Patrick Lanne. Both noted that in recent elections, particularly 2006, vote totals for incumbent senators “have tended to converge on the president’s job approval” rating, as Trende put it in September. “If a candidate is above the president’s job approval,” he wrote, “the tendency is that he or she finds his or her vote share is stagnant.” While the trends Trende predicted were not always strong or consistent, they generally played out over the course of the fall campaign. On average, across the nine most competitive Senate races, Republicans gained more than twice the support (+6.5 percentage points) as their Democratic opponents (+2.5 points) as the undecided vote steadily fell.
A second theory, essentially an extension of the first, holds that whatever vote remained undecided at the end of the campaign “broke” heavily or even entirely to the Republican candidates. “Often in wave elections,” Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown explained, “virtually all the undecided or extra party voters go the same way.”
This theory works, at least in terms of simple arithmetic, in most of the Senate contests that produced the biggest errors on the margins. In Kentucky, Iowa, Georgia, Virginia, and Louisiana, allotting 80 percent of the undecided to the Republican candidate would reduce the error on their share of the vote to a percentage point or less.
A third theory is that the mechanisms pollsters used to select likely voters or model the likely electorate overstated participation by Democrats. “Part of the reason why the public polling in 2014 was so bad,” Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg explained at a post-election panel in Washington on Thursday, “they basically took anybody who was willing to take a poll. When you have turnout at 36.6 percent and you take anybody who is willing to take a poll, you have got a lot of people in your surveys who are non-voters.”
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