Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 10, 2014

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 10, 2014

Solomon’s Masonic Lodge, the first in Georgia, was organized on December 10, 1735. Upon his return to the colony, James Oglethorpe would join the group.

John Jay was elected President of the Continental Congress on December 10, 1778.

A Special Convention met in Milledgeville to determine the state’s reaction to the Compromise of 1850, a series of five bills passed in Congress attempting to deal with issues between slave states and free states.

The [Georgia] platform established Georgia’s conditional acceptance of the Compromise of 1850. Much of the document followed a draft written by Charles Jones Jenkins and represented a collaboration between Georgia Whigs and moderate Democrats dedicated to preserving the Union. In effect, the proclamation accepted the measures of the compromise so long as the North complied with the Fugitive Slave Act and would no longer attempt to ban the expansion of slavery into new territories and states. Northern contempt for these conditions, the platform warned, would make secession inevitable.

This qualified endorsement of the Compromise of 1850 essentially undermined the movement for immediate secession throughout the South. Newspapers across the nation credited Georgia with saving the Union.

Emory College was incorporated on December 10, 1836, as Governor William Schley signed legislation chartering the school.

The Atlanta City Council appointed the first Board of Education on December 10, 1869.

The Spanish-American War was ended on December 10, 1898, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

Cecil Burke Day, founder of Days Inn, was born on December 10, 1934.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1964 in Oslo, Norway, becoming the youngest recipient of the award.

Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 2002.

Georgia Politics

James W. Webb has been appointed Solicitor-General for Elbert County by Gov. Nathan Deal.

Deal also tapped Col. Thomas Carden to lead the Georgia Army National Guard as Assistant Adjutant General.

In January, Carden will replace Brig. Gen. Joe Jarrard, the Georgia Army National Guard commander who is set to take over as adjutant general that month.

Jarrard is replacing Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth as part of a cabinet reshuffling for Deal’s second term. Butterworth is leaving his post to oversee the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

Gov. Deal also delivered the keynote address at the Biennial Institute in Athens yesterday.

Deal brought the Biennial to a close Tuesday with a speech describing how cooperation between the state’s executive and legislative branches helped produce Georgia’s current economic vitality. He also detailed Georgia’s successes regarding criminal justice reform and outlined some specific policy initiatives he hoped the legislature would undertake during the 2015 session.

Deal concluded by describing how Georgia has established an international reputation as the best U.S. state to locate new business and industry. “That is the reputation that precedes us, and that is the reputation I intend to build upon for the next four years,” he said.

As far as transportation funding, the Governor is holding his cards close to his vest,

“It is timely for us to take a serious look at it,” Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday at a state transportation summit. “The question of whether it’s going to be new revenue, and the source of that revenue, is the most important question we need to answer.”

The answer to that question is likely to dominate the legislative session that begins Jan. 12. And Georgia’s political class is far from united on the solution.

Most lawmakers seem willing to embrace less-controversial changes, such as shifting the fourth penny of a motor fuel sales tax back to transportation projects. But that will require a budgeting balancing act and only raise a portion of the funds advocates say they need. Boosting that total even more would require more sweeping changes.

Deal said he’s willing to consider just about anything — “everything should be on the table,” he said — but his role in the debate remains unclear. He rarely spoke of transportation issues on the campaign trail, and he seems torn on the question of how much new funding is necessary.

At Tuesday’s summit, he questioned the accuracy of estimates calling for at least $1 billion in new revenue for infrastructure on Tuesday, and he cited a CNBC ranking that lauded Georgia as a transportation hub.

“We know we have deficits,” he said. “But on a comparative basis, maybe we should not be condemning ourselves too severely.”

Implementing police body cameras and dash cams statewide would carry a $125 million price tag, according to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

A report obtained last week by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution estimated that at least an additional 7,400 vehicle cameras and an additional 12,800 body cameras would be needed to supplement those already in use across Georgia.

“I don’t think you’ll see any pushback on using body cameras — our sheriffs certainly see the benefit, and I think they’re going to be widely accepted,” said J. Terry Norris, the executive director of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association. “If they think this is good public policy, they should recommend it. But any mandate that comes down from the state that makes a cost for a local (agency), we have issues with that.”

Recreational marijuana under a bill proposed by State Senator Curt Thompson (D-Gwinnett) is not likely to go anywhere in the 2015 Session of the Georgia General Assembly.

“It’s already, good bad or indifferent, the largest cash crop in Georgia,” Thompson said Wednesday. “You’ve got presidents and former presidents of both political parties, down to average Joes, that have used this product.” Thompson says marijuana convictions can ruin the careers of otherwise-responsible people.

“This is the start of a conversation,” Thompson said.

One pocket of opposition will come from what may seem an unlikely source: the sponsor of the medical marijuana bill.

“I’ll fight with just as much vigor to oppose any recreational use of marijuana in our state,” said Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon).

Speaking of Rep. Allen Peake, PolitiFact rated “true” his claim that cannabis oil high in CBD and low in TCH does not get users high.

The key difference in allowing the oil, supporters say, is that it is high in cannabidiol and low in tetrahydrocannabinol.

Both are compounds found in the marijuana plant that act on cell receptors that control neurotransmitters in the brain and the immune system from various organs, such as the spleen.

Cannabidiol, known as CBD, is an antioxidant and not psychoactive. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is the long-known mind-altering part of pot.

Cannabis oil is made from strains of marijuana already bred to be high in CBD and low in THC. For medical use, the oil is made with less than 3 percent THC and is orally ingested. Children’s doses tend to be at 1 percent THC, or lower.

We rate Peake’s statement True.

DeKalb County will fight to keep a cash cow center of educational excellence that the City of Atlanta is eying for annexation.

The move by residents around Emory University is designed to take three schools, plus other property, into Atlanta, which has its own school system. One of the schools, Druid Hills High, has 1,386 students, most of whom would be kicked out if Atlanta Public Schools got possession, DeKalb says, as they don’t live in the area that would become part of the city. Also, students within the annexed area would no longer have access to DeKalb County magnet and charter schools or special education services.

Dan Drake, a school district official, said only 311 Druid Hills High students would go with the school into Atlanta. The other 1,075 live outside the annexation area and would be left behind, along with about 40 teachers. “The problem is, we don’t know at this point where those students and teachers will be housed,” he said.

Whether Atlanta can take the schools and other properties is in dispute, but if Georgia law does allow it, it “would result in the disenfranchisement and displacement of 2,922 students,” Superintendent Michael Thurmond said Monday. He said he would earmark $2.5 million from reserves to hire legal and government affairs experts who can help in “protecting what is naturally ours.”

The report is clearly aimed at undermining support for annexation, a movement that gained steam after Thurmond’s administration denied a petition by parents in the area to control their own schools.

Kathleen Baydala Joyner at the Fulton Daily Report has a closer look at the drone bill by Rep. Harry Geisinger (R-Fulton).

House Bill 5 — would regulate use of unmanned aircraft, creating civil and criminal penalties for people who use them to snoop.

“I don’t want to prevent anybody from using a drone,” said bill sponsor Rep. Harry Geisinger (R-Roswell), a consultant. “It’s a privacy issue.”

HB 5, which is patterned after laws in Texas, would prohibit generally the use of drones to capture footage of people on private property without their consent. The bill also defines lawful uses to include scholarly research, satellite mapping and authorized law enforcement surveillance.

Gwinnett County district attorney Danny Porter, who is the legislative liaison for the state’s District Attorneys’ Association, said prosecutors may have some concerns.

“We’re willing to meet with the sponsor, depending on how [the bill] progresses,” Porter said. But the bill “isn’t high on our priority list.”

Porter said his understanding of the bill is it would allow law enforcement agencies to fly drones over private property only if they have search warrants based on probable cause.

“We think it should be a lesser standard of evidence,” he said.

The Cherokee County legislative delegation has rescheduled its Town Hall from 6 PM tonight and it will now be held at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12th at the Towne Lake Hills Clubhouse at 1007 Towne Lake Hills East in Woodstock.

The town hall will be a forum for residents to hear a brief presentation from lawmakers. Residents will then voice their concerns and opinions on what priorities the state legislature should set when it convenes in January.

State lawmakers representing Effingham County spoke to the local Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues breakfast, according to the Savannah Morning News.

State Rep. Bill Hitchens, R-Rincon, said Georgia has surpassed California as the No. 1 film-producing state in the nation. “When you’re doing better than Hollywood, that’s pretty good,” he said.

He said 50 films are being produced in the state right now, most around Atlanta. With Moon River Studios building in Effingham, the county has an opportunity to get more involved in that industry.

“Prosperity has come back again,” with people building houses and the district building a new Rincon Elementary School, he said. “We’re in pretty good shape, apparently.”

State Rep. Jon Burns, R-Newington, said the state also is very competitive in

gaming, which is another part of Moon River’s plans.

State Sen. Jack Hill, R-Reidsville, said Georgia is the fourth-largest state in the country in job creation, “which is what it’s all about.”

“Over the next 10 years, we’re very primed for some great things to happen with the port,” he said. “If it’s ever going to happen, it’s going to happen over these next 10 years.”

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